Monday, November 13, 2000

Baptists to pick president

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — Kentucky Baptists will elect a new president at their annual meeting in Bowling Green Tuesday and Wednesday — and it looks as if it could be a controversial vote.

        The Kentucky Baptist Convention is a direct state affiliate of the Southern Baptists. During their June convention in Orlando, Fla., members voted to approve a resolution sup porting capital punishment, said the Boy Scouts of America have the right to reject gay troop leaders and declared that women should no longer serve as pastors.

        These issues have caused a division in Southern Baptists, with several denominations breaking away from the convention. These same issues also appear to be influencing Kentucky Baptists in their vote for a president.

        Both candidates for president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention describe themselves as theological conservatives, but that is where the similarities end.

        Retired missionary Jim McKinley of Louisville has drawn support from moderates because he says he wants to work with a broad range of Baptists and doesn't want a potentially divisive vote on Southern Baptists' new statement of faith.

        The other candidate, Pastor Kevin Ezell of Louisville has been endorsed by a group that wants to align the Kentucky convention more closely with the conservative leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention.

        Moderates, who are urging support for Mr. McKinley, say they fear the Kentucky convention faces a conservative takeover effort similar to the one that has occurred on the national level.

        Conservatives say the changes to the “Baptist Faith and Message,” or statement of belief, endorsed by the national convention provided a clear Christian message and bolstered the authority of the Bible. Moderates say the statement puts the Bible above Jesus Christ and treats women as second-class citizens by calling for male authority in families and churches.

        Organizers expect more than 2,000 church representatives to attend.


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