MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Samford Relationship Study Group – a task force of Alabama Baptist leaders appointed by the State Board of Missions (SBOM) during its May meeting – has acknowledged a decision by the Executive Committee of the Samford Board of Trustees for the university to forego allocations from annual State Convention Cooperative Program budgets, beginning in January 2018.
State Convention President, John Thweatt, chair of the Samford Relationship Study Group, stated: “We will bring a recommendation to the August meetings of the State Board of Missions Budget Advisory Committee, SBOM Executive Committee and SBOM Trustees to accept the decision from the Samford trustees’ executive committee.”
The Samford announcement was made following discussions between the Study Group and Samford leadership after the university’s Faculty in April voted for recognition of a student group, Samford Together, which is seen by State Convention and SBOM leadership as an LGBT-oriented organization.
Concerns have been publicly expressed through a Joint Statement from Thweatt and SBOM Executive Director Rick Lance and later affirmed and approved by State Board trustees. Those concerns were the basis for A Call to Prayer by Thweatt as State Convention president.
Before meeting with representatives of Samford, Thweatt, acting as chair of the Study Group, communicated in an email to Samford President Andrew Westmoreland that “if the Samford trustees vote to deny permanent recognition for this student organization and revoke its provisional status, then we will recommend to the Executive Committee and State Board of Missions that the allocation proposed for Samford University in the 2018 budget will remain as planned, and we will be able to continue our Great Commission relationship. If the trustees decide not to deny permanent recognition and revoke its provisional status we will not recommend any allocation for Samford University in the 2018 budget.”
In a Samford press release, Westmoreland stated he would not seek formal recognition of Samford Together by the university’s trustees.
In response to the Samford Trustees’ resolution and Samford’s press release, Thweatt issued the following statement from the Samford Relationship Study Group:
“If our recommendation is approved during the SBOM’s August meetings, then the 2018 Cooperative Program budget will be reduced by $3 million – the approximate amount that would have been Samford’s likely allocation in 2018. This will, in effect, be a base budget that better reflects current Cooperative Program receipts.
“The matter of recognition of the student organization is in the hands of the leadership of Samford University. They know our concerns about the organization as expressed in person and in print.
“In the coming days, the leaders of Alabama Baptists and Samford University hope to ascertain what areas of ministry cooperation – that do not involve Cooperative Program allocations – could be developed for the future which will honor our 175 years of ministry together.
“As always, we will pray for Samford, its leadership and its students as they work together in a university community in these challenging times.”