Executive Board approves CBU trustee recommendation

Published May 29, 2019

FRESNO — A recommendation to allow up to four evangelical trustees for California Baptist University was approved by the California Southern Baptist Convention Executive Board during its May 9-10 meeting.

The recommendation, which would change Article IV, Section 1 of the CSBC Bylaws, would allow up to four non-Southern Baptist church members to serve as trustees. The recommendation also calls for an increase in the number of trustees from 36 to 40.

The Board also approved seven new churches for affiliation with the Convention, allocations for the 2019 California Mission Offering and the discontinuation of paying premiums for life and dental insurance for CSBC retirees.

The CBU trustee recommendation will be presented to messengers for consideration at the CSBC annual meeting, Oct. 22-23 at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon. The recommendation requires a 2/3 vote of messengers present and voting to be enacted.

Qualifications for the new category of trustees for the university include being a member of an evangelical church and agreement with “The Baptist Faith & Message.”

Currently, both CBU and The Baptist Foundation of California have two categories of trustees elected by CSBC. One is for those who are members of CSBC churches and the other designated as “global trustees,” members of Southern Baptist churches within the United States or churches cooperating with their respective Baptist convention outside the US. In both instances, the majority of trustees for the institutions is California Southern Baptists. The new category would be only for CBU and not affect the Foundation.

CBU trustees attending the Board meeting were Walter Price, a member of Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont, and Steve Davidson, a member of Clovis Hills Community Church in Clovis.

“We (trustees) hold the school in trust for you and all California Southern Baptists,” Price said. He added that CBU wants to continue the trust of a university committed to the Great Commission, “but we also know there are godly people, people who are in evangelical churches … people who can be of extreme help with their wisdom and with their money.”

Price gave examples of two Christian couples, neither of whom are Southern Baptist, that have donated millions of dollars to the university, and have encouraged their children and grandchildren to attend CBU.

When asked why the number of trustees was being increased from 36 to 40, Davidson said, “We understand there will be concern about Baptist control and oversight. By increasing the number the percentage (of evangelical trustees) will be smaller.”

Though the recommendation calls for “up to four” evangelicals, Davidson said it is unlikely for “all to be filled at one time.”

The trustee representatives told Executive Board members the evangelical trustees would be “vetted like any other trustee nominee” by the Convention’s committee on board nominations and recommended to messengers for election.

The Board approved seven churches for CSBC membership including Redemption Bible Church, Bakersfield; Delight in the Word Bible Fellowship, Hayward; Iglesia Cristiana Altar de Dios, Northridge; Palo Cedro Community Church, Palo Cedro; Chinese Independent Baptist Church, San Francisco; Immanuel Bible Church, Santa Monica; and Iglesia Bautista Biblica Peniel, Sun Valley.

Approval was given for broad allocations for the 2019 California Mission Offering: 40 percent, or $200,000, for church planting; 28 percent, or $140,000, for evangelism, missions and disaster relief; and 10 percent, or $50,000, for associations. Other allocations include 9 percent, or $45,000, for church revitalization; 7 percent, or $35,000, for small church ministries; and 6 percent, or $30,000, for promotion.

Board members approved a recommendation to no longer pay premiums for life and dental insurance for retired employees, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Discontinuation of the benefits will realize savings of almost $48,500 annually. Background information detailed the necessity of the action to help balance fixed expenses due to flat Cooperative Program giving over the past decade.

Bill Agee, CSBC executive director, said some years ago the Convention determined to pay for post-retirement benefits including life and dental insurance.

“This is okay if you have a lot of money,” he explained, “but it’s not okay if you don’t.”

A notation on the annual CSBC audited financial statements records, “Although there is no plan requirement for the Convention to provide these postemployment benefits, the Convention has paid 100% of these costs in the past and will continue to do so if current operating funds are available.”

Providing post-retirement benefits for employees is at the “discretion of the Executive Board which reserves the right to modify or eliminate coverage with 90 days advance written notification,” according to the Convention’s Policy and Procedures Manual.

The Board’s finance committee asked Convention administration to provide three options at the September Board meeting to further address the $128,000 allocated in the budget for other CSBC post-retirement benefits.

The finance committee also reported its intent in January 2020 to address other unfunded expenses related to Ministry Resource Center depreciation, the GuideStone Church Protection Plan, CSBC post-retirement benefits, and Jenness Park Christian Camp operations, loan and depreciation.

The next Executive Board meeting is set for Sept. 12-13 in Fresno.