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SBC missionaries agree to guidelines, will return to the field

 

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Southern Baptist missionaries Wyman and Michelle Dobbs will be allowed to return to their work in West Africa after telling the International Mission Board’s overseas leadership they are committed to following the IMB’s five levels of partnership and planting indigenous Baptist churches.

The couple’s assertion that they were starting a “baptistic” church in partnership with non-SBC missionaries among the Fulbe Fouta people of Guinea became public in mid-April. The Dobbses had signed a church-planting partnership document called the “Tinka Agreement” in 2003, which had not been endorsed by the West Africa regional leadership and did not adequately communicate the five levels of partnership to which IMB trustees had committed.

In addition to the Dobbses, that agreement was signed by mission representatives from the Assemblies of God, Christian Reformed Church, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Pioneer Bible Translators, WEC International, Youth With a Mission and the Swiss Evangelical Alliance Mission.

West Africa mission leadership came to an impasse with the Dobbses in determining their commitment to the appropriate level of partnership and a clear commitment to planting indigenous Baptist churches. They recommended the couple resign or be terminated after the Dobbses refused to follow the guidelines.

The Dobbses appealed the decision in an April 29 meeting with Gordon Fort, IMB vice president for overseas operations. Fort agreed to let them return to the field after he conferred with Randy Arnett, West Africa regional leader. The couple is currently on stateside assignment in Oklahoma and is scheduled to return to Guinea in February 2007.