Published December 1, 2011
LAWRENCEVILLE — While both candidates for office of GBC president campaigned on the need to be more inclusive of Georgia Baptists who have not served on key committees, newly-elected GBC President John Waters of Statesboro went a step further.
On his personal blog on Oct. 8 the south Georgia pastor released “Five Public Commitments to GBC Pastors,” which proposed ground rules for “new levels of participation and inclusion” in state convention life. Included in that statement was the pledge to work against a political network which, he said, worked against a sense of transparency and inclusiveness.
Of particular notice was the pledge not to support personally any At-Large member who had recently served, or the appointment of any member of “that person’s staff or member of his/her immediate family.”
On Nov. 8 just days prior to the Nov. 15 election, Waters spoke again on his campaign website about the “wearisome trend of ‘recycling ’ existing leadership on prominent committees while there remained a pool of more than 3,000 pastors and tens of thousands of laypersons – men and women, ethnic and Anglo – who had not served.
Waters acknowledged to The Index after his election that he had been a part of that network that could have been more open to appointing key committee members from different walks of Georgia Baptist life. But he felt the time had come to abandon those exclusionary practices and sense of disenfranchisement.
His second of five points, where he discussed those ideas, follows.
I will call for new levels of participation and inclusion.
“With 1.5 million Georgia Baptists in our state, we must end the exclusionary practices whereby our appointed leadership is continually drawn from the same small circle of friends. I will lead Georgia Baptists in overcoming the sense of disenfranchisement that frustrates both younger and older pastors alike, and I will call for new faces to serve on key committees and places of appointment in our state convention.
“Although I will respect the choices of local associations regarding their members on the Executive Committee, I will not personally support any At-Large appointment of a person who has recently served. Nor will I support the appointment of that person’s staff member or a member of his/her immediate family, practices which have become commonplace in recent years. It is time for a new day of inclusion where new people are offered the chance to serve.
“Additionally, I will work with Dr. White and the incoming Chairman of the Executive Committee to address the growing perception that key committees often do nothing more than ‘rubber stamp’ decisions that are already made. To include others also means to involve them in the decision-making process, and I will call for greater participation in the decisions that we make together as Georgia Baptists.”
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