QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS REGARDING THE SGBF:
Bro. Tom Henry
From past Chairman, Tom Henry of Bible Baptist Church (Spring, 05)
EDITOR: You are the Chairman of
the Sovereign Grace Baptist Fellowship? What exactly is the Sovereign
Grace Baptist Fellowship - how would you describe it?
are a fellowship of pastors and churches who share a genuine love for, and a
strong conviction concerning, the blessed doctrines of God's Free and Sovereign
Grace, and wish to cooperate together in the promotion of these blessed truths
at home and abroad. We currently have an Annual Meeting involving anywhere from
20-30 pastors, and we would heartily welcome any and all who share our passion
for the Old Gospel and God's honor and glory which it exalts.
What other doctrines and
values tie the Fellowship together in unity?
We are Calvinistic,
baptistic, and evangelistic. Under these banners we march together, leaving the
individual conscience free regarding matters about which we might have
legitimate differences. We have adopted a modified New Hampshire Confession
of Faith upon which articles we are generally agreed. We are not interested
in entering into "doubtful disputations" over "I-dotting" and "T-crossing", but
rather, we focus on forming strong fellowship ties around the basic foundational
truths of God's grace.
What exactly is the
Fellowship doing to further its cause? What are its activities?
One important point of
agreement from the very beginning was the need to give the Fellowship a voice to
let others know what we are trying to do. This need is being met by the
quarterly publication of "The Sovereign Grace Messenger", made possible
through the contributions of the Fellowship churches. Also, within our
Fellowship exists the Sovereign Grace Baptist Seminary. The S.G.B.S. was
founded in January 2002 as a ministry of Bible Baptist Church, one of our SGBF
churches in St. Louis under the direction of Pastor Holmes Moore. Though the
seminary is a local church ministry, it has received much support from the
Fellowship churches and pastors. We have also undertaken some mission projects
both at home and abroad.
recently, the great value of the Fellowship was seen in the effort put forth by
its pastors and churches to raise support for Brother Trevor Johnson, a
missionary out of one of its own churches. These are some of the important steps
that we have taken which whet our appetites to do more, and with God's help, we
Meeting provides opportunities for the pastors of the Fellowship to introduce
men and projects to the other pastors for consideration. It is a platform and a
forum for likeminded churches to gather and cooperate on broad endeavors for the
sake of the Gospel. Our last meeting, hosted by Grace Baptist Church of Madison,
Alabama (Pastor Dean Olive) provided just such a forum.
Where do you hope and
pray that the fellowship heads in years to come?
I think it is headed in
the right direction. One hope in which I think we all share is that God will
raise up more sovereign grace missionaries and pastors in our churches, and
allow us to train and send others forth. We want to have part in establishing
Sovereign Grace Baptist Churches at home and abroad.
My hope is
that we can also somehow be able to reach into the black community. There
exists some good solid Sovereign Grace black pastors laboring to build churches
within the black community. I would like to see us lend a hand in these efforts
in whatever way the Lord may enable us.
What are your
responsibilities as Chairman of the Sovereign Grace Baptist Fellowship?
Since the Fellowship
currently meets only once a year, my duties mainly involve communication -
staying in touch with members of the Executive Committee regarding Fellowship
matters that arise between meetings. I also correspond with the host-pastor,
whose church will host the next upcoming Annual Meeting, helping in whatever way
I can with the planning and program. Finally, after a preliminary meeting with
the other officers, I serve as moderator at the Annual Meeting.
Does the Fellowship
infringe upon the independence or autonomy of the local church?
We have gone to great
effort to ensure that the autonomy of the participating churches is not
compromised in any way. The purpose of a Fellowship as opposed to an Association
is to avoid concentrating authority in some separate centralized location
instead of the local church. Our cooperation is not cooperation in the sense of
having some sort of organization or society separate from the oversight of the
local churches. There is no organizational entity unto itself, ruling over
itself, separate from the local church. All missionary work rightly springs out
of the local church and is never divorced from the local church. All
participation is strictly voluntary. Each pastor and church has the right to
either participate or not to participate in any event, venture, or project of
the Fellowship. The Fellowship intends to facilitate the efforts of local
churches and aid them in cooperating with other local churches for broader and
more expansive endeavors that are difficult or even impossible for one
congregation to do by itself.
Tom Henry, A young Preacher at his study (1970)