Sunday, June 28, 2009

This Week at Baptist Press: Southern Baptists Continue to Buck Political Correctness on Hot Button Issues; Focus on Evangelism Draws Most Attention

Church messengers overwhelmingly supported the formation of the "Great Commission Task Force" at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), authorizing SBC President Johnny Hunt to appoint the members but, the somewhat controversial "Great Commission Resurgence Declaration" was neither discussed nor voted upon.

"Baptist Press" (BP) covered the Southern Baptist Convention, held June 23 - 24, in Louisville, Kentucky. The meeting was held at the Kentucky Exhibition Center as a way to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the report said.

BP noted several issues which were discussed at the 2009 Convention, but stated the "Great Commission Task Force" drew the most discussion and interest.

"...the Great Commission Task Force was the leading issue, not only in the minds of messengers but also for several of the meeting's preachers. Evangelist Billy Graham, 90 years old, even sent a personal greeting to messengers in which he said he had read about the "call to a Great Commission resurgence" with much interest," the BP report said.

According to BP, the Convention's messengers also got an update about the "God's Plan for Sharing" evangelism initiative; passed a resolution encouraging Southern Baptists to pray about considering fostering or adopting orphaned children; "approved an Executive Committee recommendation to cease the "cooperative relationship" with Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, over the issue of homosexuality;" re-elected Johnny Hunt to his second term as president and; "passed a resolution that calls the election of President Obama a step toward nationwide racial reconciliation but that heavily criticizes him for some of his policies."

International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin asked church messengers an interesting question pertaining to the number of missionaries the SBC members support:

"Are we saying that 5,000 missionaries are enough ... to evangelize the rest of the world while we support over 100,000 pastors, church staff and denominational workers in our own country?" he asked."

In regards to the resolution concerning President Obama, BP reported the messengers share "our nation's pride in our continuing progress toward racial reconciliation signaled" by the president's election. But the resolution says messengers "decry" Obama's assistance to "pro-abortion" groups. It also expresses "strong opposition" to Obama declaring June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month." The resolution also calls on Southern Baptists to pray for President Obama, and according to BP, Hunt led them in a prayer for the President immediately after passage of the resolution.

In another action sure to be controversial in some circles, Southern Baptists ceased their association with a Fort Worth, Texas church over the issue of homosexuality. BP's report said Broadway Baptist Church has at least two gay couples in their membership, and the church has allowed some of the openly gay members to serve on church committees. "Supporters of the Executive Committee recommendation (to cease Southern Baptists' cooperative relationship with the church) said that while the convention fully supports ministering to the homosexual community, the church -- by its actions -- was in violation of Article III of the SBC Constitution, which states that churches "which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior" are not in friendly cooperation," BP reported.

Click here to read more about the resolutions passed at the Southern Baptist Convention and other Convention news.

Related: Story Collection on the 2009 Great Commission Resurgence, Source: "Baptist Press"

"SBC president releases ‘Great Commission Resurgence’ declaration," Source: "Florida Baptist Witness"

"Hunt: Unhealthy SBC needed ‘shock’ of Great Commission Resurgence declaration," Source: "Baptist Courier"


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