Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

It is my contention that the mothers I’ve been blessed to be loved by are the best that have ever been assembled for any little boy. All my life I have been surrounded by a unique cadre of women that have poured their lives into me and each have deeply influenced the character and nature found in the man I have become. My mom, Linda Carol Bowling Adkins is, to this day, the most kind, supportive and tender mother I have ever known. When I'm sick I still think of her making me a "nest" and sitting on the side of the couch while she would rub my head and tuck in the covers around me. She'd make me tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich (my sick meal) and was the general who would subdue my illness at the wave of her hand.

Her mother, Orpha Cordella Smith Bowling (who has been with Jesus for quite some time and is greatly missed) was a strong, hard-working and funny woman who took great pride in gathering her family together and cooking big meals. She was more like a pioneering frontier woman who ran her home well and delivered her first child while her husband was in North Africa fighting a war. I can testify that my mom's tender side was balanced by the example of the firm hand she learned from her mother. I can embarrassingly say that I (inappropriately and disrespectfully) got in my mom's face once... ONCE. When I got up off the floor I made the decision I would never get in her face again. ;) She has been our caretaker, our nurse, our cheerleader, our rudder, our disciplinarian, our teacher and our adviser. I am a blessed man to have had her nurture and shape me.

My dad’s mom, Patsy Ruth Stidham Adkins (who is presently suffering from Alzheimer’s) was the picture of a humble, loving, Christ-like and submissive wife. Her home was spotless as she cared for her three boys and her Evangelist husband (who traveled extensively and was outside of the home far more than anyone would have wanted). She was a servant. If you looked up “graciousness” in the dictionary you would find her picture. As a young girl she was even the conduit that led her mother, Mary Virginia Summerville Stidham (my great-grandmother) to the Lord when, as a little girl, she would get up, dress and go to church even without her family… until the day that Great-Gran decided to follow her little girl to church. The rest, as they say, is history. I believe that my call to ministry is due in part to these godly women who prayed fervently for every family member, friend, neighbor, acquaintance and complete stranger they heard needed prayer. I can close my eyes and picture walking into my Great-Gran’s house. I hear WEMM on the radio (the one that sat on top of her refrigerator). I see her over in the corner of her kitchen cleaning up after her tea and can hear that she is talking to Jesus about her family. I’d come in quietly just to hear who she was praying for. I miss her terribly as well as her daughter, Patsy (my Mamaw Adkins). I am heartbroken that this disease has taken her from us. Her encouragement to live the way Jesus would want me to live still rings in my ears.

And then there is my sweet Michelle Lynette Slater Adkins. Anyone who knows me at this point in my life can testify that I would not be who I am were it not for the mother of my children. If the women above shaped the first 23 years of my life and set the foundation for who I would be, this one woman has broadened the last 18 years of my life and helped to grow me in ways that I would have never imagined. I must also recognize my dear mother-in-law, Janet Louise Burgess Slater, who helped to shape my Michelle into the woman that would help to shape me. I am eternally grateful for her influence, care and love for my sweet bride. Michelle swooped into my life and changed me. I learned about travel, compassion, giving, selflessness, priorities, forgiveness, friendship, love and so many other things that just sound so cliché. This is the woman who told me that she believed in me and believed that I could indeed finish that little two-year degree that I had been struggling to finish. She told me that not only did she think I could do that, but that I could go on to do more (remember this girl had a master’s degree before I even had a degree). She encouraged me, supported me, believed in me and has pushed me to be the best I can be. Now, after 4 degrees and working on a 5th, this woman is still there caring for and encouraging me all the while blessing my home beyond what I deserve and is helping to shape our two little boys into the men they will become just like those women did for me so many years earlier. Thanks to her I am a blessed man indeed. Who deserves such a life?

These unique women have shaped me into the man I am. Whatever good that may be in me can for the most part be attributed to them. Whatever mistakes I've made has come about due to my disregarding their instruction or meandering away from their guidance. To these women and to all the other moms that are sacrificially giving of their lives for the benefit of their children, I say to you, “Happy Mother’s Day!” Your children will be blessed if you can be half the mom these moms have been to me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I'll be speaking to the LBC Executive Board

     Tomorrow morning, May 6th at 9am I will speak to the Administrative Committee of the Executive Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC) regarding the motion I presented on the floor of the LBC meeting in November of last year. The motion posits that according to the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Executive Director of the LBC is prohibited from a seat on any of the four Boards of Trustees of the Convention. I presented this motion due to what I had witnessed while serving on the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College only after prayerful consideration and deliberately and carefully researching and examining the guiding documents of our Convention.
     My motion was referred to the Executive Board for examination. I had expected to receive an invitation to speak to my motion however after 5 months had passed and an upcoming meeting of the Executive Board was looming, I took the advice of another pastor and made an official request to speak. Although I hoped to address the full Board I was granted the request to speak to the Administrative Committee of the Executive Board (they were the group tasked with consideration of the motion).
     I sent the 23 members of that committee a 10 page pdf (which includes much of the material previously published on my personal blog). I received back a kind request from one member for a boiled down 1-page summary of the problem and my proposed solution. The following is that concise explanation which I have recently sent to the Administrative Committee:

Concise Explanation of my Motion

from Jay Adkins

I have covered every aspect of my motion in detail and with painstaking care. I’ve taken such care to ensure that no stone has been left uncovered and to attempt to answer every question I imagine could be asked of me. I have also been asked by an Administrative Committee member to produce a one-page summary of my concern and my proposed solution. I offer that to you today. Here are the facts: 
  1. According to the Bylaws of the LBC (specifically Article 4, Section 10) no salaried employees of the Convention are eligible for election as a voting member of Boards or Committees unless it is provided somewhere else in the Constitution or Bylaws.
  2. In Article 3, Section 9 of the Bylaws there is an allowance for the Executive Director to serve as an ex officio member of the Committees of the Convention… not on the Boards. (Compare that to the allowance made for the President of the Convention in Article 8, Section 4 of the LBC Articles of Incorporation where he is given ex officio on both the Committees and Boards) Further, there is a clear distinction between Committees and Boards throughout the LBC Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. The most clear distinction is made in Article 2 of the Bylaws where the delineation is made between the 7 Standing Committees and the 4 Boards of Trustees.
  3. Therefore, the Executive Director (and any other salaried employee) is in fact prohibited from a seat on any of the 4 Boards of Trustees.
  4. The Charters of the 4 Boards of Trustees now read (2 of which were relatively recently changed) to allow the Executive Director to sit as a member of the 4 Boards.
  5. The allowance in those Charters stand in direct contradiction with the Bylaws of the LBC.
  6. The LBC is the Sole Member of each of the 4 referenced entities. The “connectionalism” that Sole Membership provides affords the convention, in part, “the prerogative to unilaterally recommend the alteration or even the abolition of its entities.”1
  7. The Bylaws of the entities of the Sole Member cannot be allowed to supersede the Bylaws of the Sole Member itself.

    My Proposed Solution:
         I would like it to be clarified and then enforced 1) that according to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Executive Director of the LBC does not have a position on any of the four Boards of Trustees (Louisiana College, the Baptist Message, the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and the Foundation Board), 2) that the Convention respectfully requests that the four entities appropriately amend their Charters as to not contradict the LBC Bylaws and finally 3) that from this time forth the Executive Director be instructed to interact with those entities as an invited guest while maintaining a friendly and collegial relationship with those entities.
         Otherwise, we must change our Bylaws to allow the Executive Director to serve on the Boards.

    [1]David Hankins, The Relation of the Southern Baptist Convention to Its Entities. accessed from on April 30, 2014.

     For me, this issue is about the following things. First, Vigilance in protecting the Rule of Order. If we are to have guiding documents we are obliged to follow them. If they are insufficient we should adjust them accordingly. Second, we should Practice good Hermeneutics when it comes to interpretation of our guiding documents. We seem to have no trouble pronouncing anathema on those who would not correctly interpret constitutional law, but in matters of denominational hermeneutics we seem to lean heavily on interpretation given to us by our leaders. We should take hermeneutical care in denominational life by employing the wise proverb, “trust but verify.” Third, I would offer a Caution against Apathy related to Minutiae. Look, I know what it is like to be underwhelmed by the droning on and on of facts and figures. In fact, I am never a good listener when it comes to numbers. Put me in a room with financial guys talking money and my eyes glaze over. I am no help in that area. However, if I am in the room and have responsibility for my part of that discussion, I must engage and attempt to contribute. Let us not abdicate our responsibility when we are bored and uninterested. Finally, we should Encourage healthy Critical Thinking. Fundamentalists still today, trumpet the “liberalism” of textual criticism suggesting that such criticism is negative and seeks to tear down what is good. Friends, those of us who went to seminary know the great blessing that is textual criticism and we are indebted to those professors who taught us how to do it correctly. Because of textual criticism we can have answers for those who seek to discredit scripture. Healthy critical thinking is a great gift to us from the God who holds all intellect and reasonable thought. Isn’t our faith one that should seek understanding? Let’s not just do something because that is “the way it has been done,” or because sister so-and-so thinks it is the right way to do it.
      I look forward to speaking with and answering questions from the Administrative Committee tomorrow morning. Please pray for clear thoughts, open minds and reasonable dialogue.

PS. I have not forgotten that I said I would write about the most recent Louisiana College Board meeting. I will do that soon. I have been waiting for this week to pass (and for a few other things) before I spoke about what happened on Tuesday, April 15th. Please be patient.