Pastor behind 1997 action calls it 'very successful'

Southern Baptist Convention messengers are expected to vote today on ending an eight-year boycott of the Walt Disney Corp., said the Rev. Bobby Welch, convention president.

Welch, who was re-elected without opposition to a second one-year term Tuesday, predicted that the convention's resolutions committee would present the Disney issue for a vote although no resolution seeking the end of the ban has been formally submitted. Under convention rules, resolutions must be submitted to the committee 15 days before the annual denominational meeting.

But the committee can present its own resolution to the 11,700 messengers or delegates, Welch said. "I would not be one bit surprised if (a resolution) does come out," Welch said at a news conference. He would not say whether he supported ending the boycott.

The Rev. Wiley S. Drake of Buena Park, Calif., who initiated the boycott at the 1997 annual meeting, said he would support ending it.

"The boycott was very, very successful," Drake said. Drake's First Southern Baptist Church is close to Disneyland in Anaheim. Drake said the recent resignation of Michael Eisner as president of Disney convinced him to support the lifting of the boycott. Drake blamed Eisner for problems at Disney.