US megachurch restores Southern Baptist commitment after it suspended financial support following Russell Moore's Trump attacks
A US megachurch that said it would suspend its $1 million annual contributions to the Southern Baptist Convention after criticism of Donald Trump by Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore has said it will now restore its financial support.
Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas said in February it would set aside or 'escrow' the money usually sent to the Cooperative Program, which funds the work of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The move came in response to 'various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC)'.
Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, was accused of 'disrespectfulness' to Trump supporters during the US election campaign, by Prestonwood's pastor Jack Graham. Moore had repeatedly voiced his opposition to Trump's candidacy, calling the Trump phenomenon 'reality TV moral sewage'.
'After a time of prayerful evaluation, Prestonwood is renewing our commitment to Southern Baptist missions by giving to the Cooperative Program without designation,' Prestonwood executive pastor Mike Buster told Baptist Press.
'For more than 40 years, Prestonwood has been a steadfast supporter of the Cooperative Program and its mission to advance the Gospel through this vital giving program. We are grateful for the Southern Baptist Convention and our longtime ministry partnership and look forward to fulfilling the Great Commission together in the days ahead,' he said.
'I am so delighted to hear of this news,' SBC Executive Committee president Frank Page said following the church statement.
'In an earlier conversation with Dr Graham, he promised that Prestonwood would be back in to CP sooner than later, and he is a man of his word.'
In March, Moore gave a conciliatory statement 'seeking unity in the Southern Baptist Convention'. He said: 'I love and respect Jack Graham and Prestonwood Baptist Church. This is a faithful church with gifted leaders and a long history of vibrant ministry working and witnessing for Christ.'
Tweeting in response, Graham called Moore's statement 'gracious and unifying'. Graham is a member of President Trump's Evangelical Executive Advisory Board.
In written comments on April 26, Moore said: 'Prestonwood Baptist Church is a faithful, vibrant, missions-minded congregation. I'm grateful to God to partner with them as we seek to reach our world for Jesus Christ.'