"John Calvin claimed church succession came through the Baptists." Bishop Bossuct in a letter to Calvin LINK
The 2011 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is now HISTORY, and there can be no doubt that the SBC has indeed made history in three significant ways at this two-day event.
First, the 2011 Annual Meeting in Phoenix had the lowest attendance since 1944 when SBC messengers met in Atlanta, Georgia. The 1944 attendance was 4,301. In case you are wondering how large the SBC membership was back then, Ed Stetzer has provided a graph of membership growth in the SBC beginning in 1950. According to that chart, the Southern Baptist Convention had approximately 7 million members in 1950.
As reported by Bryant Wright, president of the SBC, the total number of messengers certified at the 2011 Phoenix gathering was 4,065 when the first order of business took place. By the end of the first day, that number had grown to 4,780. Perhaps they used the old SBC busing tactic to increase attendance. When the vote for the 2nd vice president took place the second and final day of the meeting, attendance had swelled to a whopping 4,804!!!
According to the SBC’s official website, there are a supposed 16 million Southern Baptists who worship in 42,000 churches throughout the United States. See excerpt from the SBC website below.
About Us – Meet Southern Baptists
“Since its organization in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has grown to over 16 million members who worship in more than 42,000 churches in the United States. Southern Baptists sponsor about 5,000 home missionaries serving the United States, Canada, Guam and the Caribbean, as well as sponsoring more than 5,000 foreign missionaries in 153 nations of the world.
The term "Southern Baptist Convention" refers to both the denomination and its annual meeting. Working through 1,200 local associations and 41 state conventions and fellowships, Southern Baptists share a common bond of basic Biblical beliefs and a commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world.”
Incredibly, a scant .03 percent (.0003) of the supposed 16 million Southern Baptists participated in the official business of the denomination this week. It would be fascinating to know how many of the 42,000 SBC churches had just one member present in Phoenix. Why the dismal numbers? From my perspective, it appears that many of the SBC churches have been marginalized by the top brass and see no point in participating in the annual meeting.
SBC Messengers Elect Black Pastor to Number Two Post
Who besides me remembers when the SBC first courted black congregations in an attempt to increase membership? I recall reading about it in my local newspaper a number of years ago. Perhaps it occurred in 1995 when the SBC finally apologized for its defense of slavery. Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines were heavily promoting Darrell Gilyard during that time. Adrian Rogers predicted that Gilyard would be “the next Billy Graham”. We covered Gilyard’s fall from grace and have several articles in the “Categories” section. Shame on Southern Baptist leaders who knowingly protected Darrell Gilyard! They know who they are…
In recent days the SBC has garnered the attention of the news media by electing its first ever black pastor, Fred Luter, as First Vice President. Here’s what led up to Luter’s nomination according to an Urban Christian News article.
Here is an excerpt from the Urban Christian News article:
“Danny Akin, President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., has already announced that he will nominate Luter.
"To my knowledge, no one has announced to run against him," Akin said, "and I would be very surprised if anyone does."
Akin called Luter a "much-loved, much-respected pastor" who "can be elected on his own merits regardless of skin color."
The move to elect Luter comes at the same time the SBC is making a push for greater participation among what it sometimes calls its "non-Anglo" members in the life of the convention, particularly in leadership roles.
Luter's church is one of an estimated 3,400 black churches in the nation's largest Protestant denomination, a small minority of more than 45,700 total SBC-affiliated churches with about 16 million members total.
Akin said his nomination of Luter was not related to a resolution on diversity scheduled to be presented at this year's annual meeting but "just coalesced beautifully."
This historic vote caught the attention of the New York Times, which reported on the historic vote as follows (link):
“The widely admired pastor of a largely black church in New Orleans, was elected first vice president of the Convention at its annual conference in Phoenix on Tuesday, the highest position yet held by an African-American. Church leaders said Mr. Luter was the overwhelming favorite to be elected president at the assembly next year.
“It’s a historic development for the Southern Baptist Convention and a sign of its future, if it’s going to reflect America,” said R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., referring to Mr. Luter’s rise to prominence. Beyond the symbolism, the president controls appointments to key governing committees.
With 16 million members, the Convention is the country’s largest Protestant denomination, but the numbers are dwindling. Its traditional constituency is aging, and recruitment has not kept pace with the country’s demography. Church leaders say that as the population becomes more diverse, they must act more aggressively to draw in minority churches and followers.”
Yes, predictions are already being made that Luter will be elected the next SBC president since he hails from New Orleans – the venue of next year’s annual meeting.
SBC Slams NIV 2011
Finally, the Southern Baptist Convention made history by rejecting the newly released NIV 2011. Interestingly, early in the second day, the Baptist Press reported “There is no proposed resolution concerning the NIV 2011." See BP blog.
However, near the end of the second day a resolution came to the floor from one messenger, namely Tim Overton, not the Resolutions Committee. According to the Baptist Press blog, “Overturn's appeal for messengers to consider the resolution passed by at least a 2-to-1 margin, and the resolution itself got only a handful of opposing votes.”
You can read the entire resolution at this SBC link.
Here are the specific resolutions:
"RESOLVED, That the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 14-15, 2011 express profound disappointment with Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House for this inaccurate translation of God’s inspired Scripture; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage pastors to make their congregations aware of the translation errors found in the 2011 NIV; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we respectfully request that LifeWay not make this inaccurate translation available for sale in their bookstores; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we cannot commend the 2011 NIV to Southern Baptists or the larger Christian community."
When the internet version of the NIV 2011 was first released back in the fall of 2010, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) publicly denounced this translation of the Bible. Of course, that was not surprising since they are staunch advocates of the ESV. Now the SBC has joined them in their opposition of the NIV 2011. Remember, CBMW is housed at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
For a different perspective, you might enjoy reading this Christianity Today article which discusses the NIV 2011.
Is anyone surprised that the SBC, which owns LifeWay, would not want anyone to purchase this latest NIV Bible published by Zondervan. Family Christian Stores, which are owned by Zondervan, are in direction competition with the SBC’s marketing outlet – LifeWay Christian Stores.
There is still so much more to discuss about the SBC Annual Meeting that just concluded. All next week we will be discussing what occurred from our perspective.
In the meantime, have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend!