About 40 moderate Southern Baptists met at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport last week to discuss plans "to resist fundamentalist control of our local churches, our state conventions and our national convention," they said.
Norman Cavender, a layman from Claxton, Ga., said the closed-door meetings held Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 had been in the planning stages for several weeks and were not in response to the Nov. 16 meeting of conservatives in Atlanta. Participants in that closed-door meeting, including Southern Baptist President Adrian Rogers and his three immediate predecessors, said they assembled "to discuss appropriate responses to the widespread political activity of the 'moderates' throughout the Southern Baptist Convention."
The moderates said in a formal statement that their meeting was called "to react for the growing number of Baptist people who are fed up with fundamentalist control of the SBC."
They said they were "looking for ways to retrieve our national convention from the hands of the fundamentalists and return it to the mainstream Baptist people."
The meeting came shortly after a number of major defeats for fundamentalists in some of the most critical state conventions of the denomination.
Cavender said there was "a good chance" that moderate Southern Baptists would unite to support the Rev. Richard Jackson, pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church, for the presidency at the SBC's 1988 national meeting in San Antonio in June.
Although Cavender said the Dallas-Fort Worth gathering did not endorse a candidate, he said a priority for moderates is "winning the presidency back from the fundamentalists."
According to the statement issued after the meeting, the recent series of Southern Baptist state conventions "demonstrated that mainstream Baptist people back home have rejected political fundamentalism."