On July 28 at noon, Highland will gather in Fellowship Hall for a meal together and our Quarterly Church Conference. In addition to receiving our regular financial and membership reports, we will be considering important by-law amendments. Childcare for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers will be provided.
At our June Congregational Conversation, members discussed by-law proposals about membership and the rights of Affiliates at Highland Baptist Church. Following reminders from our pastor that we have faced difficult issues in our past and have found our way through them, Ryan Davis, chair of the Affiliates Task Force, offered a short presentation as to how and why these issues are being considered. Susan Pierce, chair of Deacons, presented the proposals for questions and comments. Numerous questions and clarifications were made. Members also expressed why they felt the church should approve or reject these changes, as well as their reservations regarding specific elements of each proposal.
Because this topic has been discussed for some time now in the life of Highland, here is a brief summary of what has transpired since the question was first raised. The church approved revised Bylaws in Fall 2011 but recognized there was additional work and discussion needed to further clarify and define the new category of Affiliates. The Affiliates Task Force was created, and as this group began to look at the rights and definition soon realized that many aspects were intertwined including baptism.
The Affiliates Task Force conducted interviews and research with staff, church members, Deacons, Ministry Council, other churches and Baptist organizations.
In January, the Affiliates Task Force hosted an educational event with Bill Leonard and James Leo Garrett speaking on both sides of the required believers’ baptism topic.
A Congregational Conversation was held in March with participants discussing related questions. Following that Conversation, the next step was for the Deacons to discern and present a proposal to the church for discussion.
After much prayer and discussion over the past three months, the Deacons are ready to present the proposed changes to the Bylaws for church vote on Sunday, July 28. We encourage all to attend. This is one of the most important discussions in our church history, and we recognize there are passionate views regarding the proposed changes. Please pray for our congregation as we enter into this decision-making time. Proposed bylaw changes can be found at the link below.
There are also significant changes that need to be made to our Ministry Group Manual which require a church vote for approval, and these will be also be brought to the Quarterly Church Conference.