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Leadership controversy with character and grace.
Spring 1998



Character Forged from Conflict

Someone has said, "Without conflict, there would be no New Testament." Out of controversy arose revelation from God.

And without conflict, where would most denominations be?

Take the Southern Baptist Convention, whose resolution last year to boycott Disney was their most recent cause of conflict.

A Southern Baptist, Jim Henry, pastor of First Baptist Church of Orlando, was put in a particular dilemma by the resolution: his church is a five-minute ride from Walt Disney World. A recent past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Henry explains, "Hundreds of people in our church are employed there, so the whole Orlando community was watching me." The Sunday after the resolution passed, Henry had to address the issue from the pulpit.

From racism in the sixties to boycotts in the nineties, Jim Henry has gone through conflict and emerged still passionate about church ministry. Leadership editors David Goetz and Ed Rowell called on Henry to find out how conflict has forged his character.

Recently you were in the center of conflict over the decision to boycott Disney. How did you respond?

Jim Henry: I couldn't come home from the Convention and act like it didn't happen—though I wish I could have taken a sabbatical. (Laughter) I knew I was going to come to loggerheads with a lot of my brothers and sisters.
I prayed about it. When I addressed the issue the Sunday after the resolution passed, I gathered all of the reasons of both sides and tried to present them fairly, because people were asking, "What do we do? How do we respond?" I presented the biblical perspective, as I saw it, and said, "Here's where I'm standing. But you're going to have to decide for yourselves."

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