By Ryan Hutchinson, Elder
This past week was the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). First Baptist Church of Durham, NC (FBC Durham) cooperates with the SBC in their efforts to provide theological training and cooperative North American and International missions efforts. As a cooperating church, we join around 45,000 other Baptist churches that work together to see our task of fulfilling the Great Commission accomplished. Our primary means of involvement in the SBC is financial through our support of the Cooperative Program. However, we also participate through sending messengers to the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Most churches that cooperate with the SBC have the opportunity to send up to 10 messengers to the Annual Meeting. The messengers represent the church and vote on various matters. This year from FBC Durham we sent four messengers: Nathan Finn, Steven Gillum, Ryan Hutchinson, and Kevin Schaub. All total there were a little over 5,000 messengers at this year’s annual meeting, which is low from a historical perspective.
The Annual Meeting of the SBC, while stretching over two days, has three major components: elections, motions and resolutions, and entity reports. I will give a brief update from two of these areas.
While there are many positions on which the messengers vote, the most important position is that of the President of the SBC. The President is elected to a term of one year and can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. This year we elected Dr. Fred Luter to his second term as President of the SBC. Dr. Luter is a pastor in New Orleans, LA, and has led the convention well. The election of the President is important since he sets the tone of the Annual Meeting and appoints the Committee on Committees that influences the nominations to all of the other SBC entities.
The other significant elections are those that are to serve on the Boards of the various SBC entities. The election of these individuals are important because as Board members they set policy for the respective entity, elect a President for the entity, if vacated, and help to ensure that the mission of that entity stays true to their Biblical moorings and the stated mission of that entity as approved by the SBC. You can see a listed of who was nominated to serve in open positions on the various boards as printed in SBC Bulletin Tuesday – Part 2.
2. Motions & Resolutions
Any messenger to the Annual Meeting of the SBC has the ability to make any motion they desire during the times to introduce motions. Most of the time the motions deal with a ministry assignment of a particular SBC entity so that motion is referred to their Board for response rather than voted on by the convention. Two of the recommendations that are voted on each year is how the Cooperative Program dollars are allocated to each entity, and the operating budget for the Convention. You can find both of these starting on Page 32 of the SBC Book of Reports.
In addition to motions, the SBC also considers Resolutions. The resolutions that are approved by the SBC are all non-binding. This means that while they express the will of the messengers no church is required to follow them. This is because SBC is not a hierarchical system like other denominations, but is made up of autonomous (independent) Baptist churches. Therefore, local churches are not required to follow any of the decisions made by the SBC.
The resolution that received the most secular attention was Resolution #6 – On the Change of Membership Policy of the Boy Scouts of America. This resolution addresses the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to not discriminate membership based on sexual orientation. You can find the text of the resolution along with the other resolutions considered as a part of SBC Bulletin Wednesday – Part 3. In summary, Resolution #6 states that Southern Baptists express our “continued opposition to and disappointment in the decision of the Boy Scouts to change its membership policy.” The resolution does not call for Southern Baptists to wholesale stop sponsoring Boy Scout troops. The resolution does say that for churches that stay involved to stay engaged in the discussion regarding Biblical moral standards, and for those that do end their sponsorship to not abandon ministry towards boys.
You can watch the proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the SBC online by clicking here. The sessions from the Pastors Conference are on the Sunday and Monday tabs. The actual Annual Meeting sessions are on the Tuesday and Wednesday tabs.
Next year the Annual Meeting is in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 9–10, 2013.