Can We Cooperate?
First, perhaps a little background. I’m a Southern Baptist. I’m a Presbyterian (PCA). Wait, what? Well I am an ordained SB preacher since the mid 1980s. Raised in mostly a SB church, I was then really saved through the ministry of a SB church in my mid-twenties. Then came a Baptist seminary (MABTS) followed by positions in several SB churches.
In the early 1990s I “defected” to the PCA (and graduated from Covenant Seminary with an MDiv) and became ordained as a Teaching Elder (TE) and pastored for seven years in the PCA before burnout took its toll. Since then I have demitted the TE ordination and have served as a Ruling Elder (RE) for eight years in the PCA.
My position on a crucial issue, baptism, is that I can affirm both credo and paedobaptism. I could sprinkle (pour) or immerse. And of course, I am Reformed.
With that background, now my question. Can we cooperate? For 2 1/2 years I have been the Executive Director of a faith based non-profit caring for orphans in Haiti. We partner with evangelical Haitian churches (Baptist) and have as our statement of faith (SOF) the SOF of The Gospel Coalition.
Here is our vision statement (our name removed so as not to appear to be a shameless promotion):
[We] exists to provide loving care for orphans in Haiti, in a Christian gospel context. [Our Org] seeks to meet the incredible housing, educational, and physical needs for Haiti’s orphaned and abandoned children.
[Our Org] partners with the [Another Org] and Haitian evangelical churches to build “villages” for orphan care. This includes housing, food, clothing, education, and clean drinking water.
The schools we build will serve the orphans and children from the surrounding community. In addition, this helps the local people establish micro-business enterprises such as sewing centers, agricultural projects, bakeries, and clean water centers. These not only provide sustainable resources for the orphans, but jobs for Haitians and a means of income to support the “villages.”
The reason for the question is this: We already have several church partners. Some are Baptist and some PCA. My experience of old is that many SBs are rather slow to partner with orgs and churches not SB. The BF&M says on cooperation:
Christ’s people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.
So what do you think? Can we cooperate? To what extent?