LAFAYETTE, La. (ABP) — Louisiana Baptists, meeting Nov. 10-11 in Lafayette, approved the sale of the state's retirement center and elected, with no opposition, a slate of officers endorsed by conservatives during the annual meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Messengers also affirmed resolutions opposing homosexuality, child abuse and video poker. Other resolutions affirmed Christian marriage and the Louisiana Moral and Civic Foundation.
The decision to sell the Baptist Retirement Center in Arcadia passed easily on a show-of-ballots vote. It ended months of struggle by the Louisiana Baptist facility to address pressing financial needs.
The retirement center has been experiencing considerable financial pressures and trustees announced plans earlier this year to try to return it to solid footing. However, by August pressure had increased and the center's trustees voted to sell the facility instead.
A tentative sales agreement for $5 million was signed with Danny Prince of Paramount Healthcare. Prince is a member of First Baptist Church of Ruston. The LBC executive board approved the sales agreement in October. However, the agreement had to be finalized by convention messengers last week as well.
“This decision did not come easily,” said center trustee chair Bobby Dye, pastor at Central Baptist Church in Bossier City. “The unanimous vote of the board, however, indicated it was the right thing to do.”
Messengers also elected a trio of convention officers, all by acclamation.
Philip Roberston, pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville and a former president of the LBC executive board, was chosen as convention president to succeed Steve James of Lake Charles. George Bannister, pastor of First Baptist Church in Scott, was elected first vice president and Bendel Johnson, a member at Summer Grove Baptist Church in Shreveport, was elected second vice president.
All three were endorsed by the Louisiana Inerrancy Fellowship, which distributed newsletters urging election of the trio during last week's convention.
Meanwhile, the election of Robertson by acclamation broke with a long-standing tradition. Usually, once a president has completed his second one-year term, there is a contest to name a successor. Since the mid-1980s, those “open year” elections have been hotly contested, the closest decided by four votes in 1989.
This year, however, Robertson was the only candidate nominated. While there was some speculation about a last-minute opponent, nothing materialized. Instead, the convention saw a rarity — all three officers were elected by unanimous ballot.
In other action, messengers overwhelmingly rejected a motion that would have allowed local associations to select their own representatives to the convention's executive board. Currently, members of that board are proposed by the committee on nominations and elected by messengers. Messengers voted 755 to 199 not to change the current practice.
In other convention business, the 1,235 messengers approved a reduced state Cooperative Program budget for 2004. It totals $22 million, which represents a reduction of $1.9 million from the current mark. The reduction comes as giving for this year continues to fall well behind budget and lag behind last year's record pace as well. The Southern Baptist Convention will receive 35.25 percent of receipts, up from 35.0 percent.