2021 SBC Annual Meeting Day 2

June 16, 2021
Brothers and sisters,
Here are five reasons why you might love coming to the SBC Annual Meeting in the future (always the second week of June):

  1. You delight in word studies
  2. Parliamentary rules fascinate you
  3. You are tickled by Southern accents
  4. You love to worship with and meeting others in the larger body of Christ
  5. You are inspired hearing stories of the Gospel of Jesus at work around the world

Next year, SBC is coming into our backyard, so there’s even more reason to go! Go as an official messenger, or as a guest, or even as a volunteer. It will take an army to host a convention for 10,000 people over 4 days. Stay tuned; the torch was passed from Nashville to the Anaheim team for 2022.

Here are some helpful links to learn more about this past week:

  1. News about the Annual Meeting at BaptistPress.com.
  2. Official Book of Reports and Daily Bulletins containing the full script of resolutions at SBCannualmeeting.net under “Messengers.”
  3. Our final team video debrief (thanks once again to Patrick who did some speaking in Chinese)

Some personal observations and reflections:

  1. Elections – Beside newly-elected President Ed Litton, we voted on the remaining positions of two vice-presidents, recording and registration secretaries. Admittedly, we knew very little about the candidates, aside from what was said in the nomination speeches. We were casting our votes, trusting that each candidate was the godly and faithful man as each nominator said he was. And, like the priests with their Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30), we trusted the Lord for the outcome. You can be sure that you will know a lot more about brother David Lin when we vote on him as our pastoral candidate!
  2. Issues – As the churches in the days of the New Testament were troubled by the sins of rivalry, false teaching, idolatry and self-righteousness, so also is the SBC today. While the overall tone (as I expressed yesterday) was respectful and orderly in the annual meeting, we could easily tell there were a number of difficult issues facing the SBC, from within and without.
    1. One of the longer debates was on a resolution about abortion. On the one hand, we all could agree that abortion is wrong, an evil that kills unborn lives. (speakers often quoted Proverbs 24:11 (CSB)11 Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling toward slaughter.) On the other hand, the messengers could not agree on the language about how to end it. Could we accept incremental abolition of abortion, or ought we resolve to only accept complete abolition? In the end, it came down to an amendment to add a single word—“alone”—which eventually led to the passage of the resolution.
    2. Another issue that arose was the sin of sexual abuse in churches, and the alleged mishandling of the investigation by the Executive Committee (EC) of the SBC. In the end, several resolutions and amendments were proposed and passed, not only condemning the sin of sexual abuse but also calling for an independent task force to oversee the investigation into the alleged mishandling. There is no doubt that sexual abuse is a grave sin, and that churches must do all they can to care for victims of abuse. But there are still questions that remain to be answered about the responsibilities of churches and the EC, and about the disqualification of abusers from the church.
    3. Finally, the perennial issue of racism. The SBC has spoken loudly against the sin of racism, affirmed the unity of all people as imagers of God, and passed a landmark resolution in 1995 on racial reconciliation. The SBC has also spoken loudly against theories of racism that are rooted in constructs that are antithetical to Scripture (e.g. Critical Race Theory—CRT). The tension, however, is that in speaking so loudly against CRT, it can be interpreted—at best—as ignoring the pain of racial minorities, and—at worst—as covering up for racism. I believe those speaking from the stage, including President Greear, did well to provide a good perspective: we in the SBC hate the sin of racism and denounce all unbiblical theories like CRT, but even more, we love Jesus, love every person as an imager of God, proclaim His Gospel, and pray to be a Revelation 7:9 church of people from every nation, tribe, people and language. Don’t believe the mainstream press when they declare that “Race Theory Splits Baptists.” We are not divided on CRT; we are 100% against it.
  3. Public Speaking & Democracy – Messengers had opportunities to speak from the floor, commenting on resolutions or making motions. They were a relatively diverse bunch: small-church pastors, lay leaders, mostly men but some women too, and even a 10-year old child(!). They stood up to speak before 15,000 people, with spotlights on them and their faces projected onto big screens. And though some were admittedly nervous, they were all well-prepared, spoke eloquently and made sound arguments. I found myself admiring their passion and bravery for doing something I could not do. I know it sounds ironic coming from me, but I was in awe! And, frankly, because they dared to speak up, we were able to vote more intelligently. These speakers flipped my vote several times! In a congregational form of church government (as we have in Baptist churches), an educated membership is vitally important to voting well. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote (in describing the American people): “…wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government;…whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”

My apologies for the one-day delay in getting this blog out. To be completely honest, sleep has been short all week, and my brain was too fuzzy last night to finish this before crashing in bed! See you this Sunday for Father’s Day. Until then, enjoy the team video. I am…
Together on Mission with you,
Pastor Godfrey