NASHVILLE (BP) – A six-month update on the status of various committees connected to his role as Southern Baptist Convention president included Bart Barber’s recommendation to add a Tuesday evening session to next summer’s annual meeting.
The June 11 evening session will focus on reports from three ad-hoc committees approved in New Orleans earlier this year. Barber, who is completing a second one-year term and would not be available for nomination, also recommended the presidential election take place that Tuesday night.
Those ad hoc committees are the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF), which messengers approved for another year, the Cooperation Group and the Great Commission Resurgence Evaluation Task Force.
Southern Baptists in Indianapolis June 11-12 will gather around a theme out of Romans 15:5-6, Barber added.
“It seems to me that one of the most prominent tasks before Southern Baptists at this moment is our need to fasten ourselves to the truth with chains that cannot be broken without abandoning the biblical mandate to ‘please [our] neighbor,’ ‘live in harmony,’ ‘welcome one another’ and ‘overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,’” he said, quoting from the passage.
Session to meet ‘frequent request’
Barber said he has asked fellow members on the Committee on Order of Business to consider adding the Tuesday session as “it has been a frequent request from the messenger body to allow more time for us to conduct our business.”
The upcoming annual meeting would be a good time for that, he added, considering the three ad-hoc committee reports in addition to normal business.
“It is my belief that we will find it difficult to conduct all of our work within the time afforded by only four business session,” he said.
“I am but one member of that committee,” Barber noted, on the need for fellow committee members to agree for the addition to be made
The suggestion would make five business sessions for Southern Baptists, joining the morning and afternoon sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Barber spoke to the status of each of the ad-hoc groups.
“[The ARITF’s] efforts represent the commitment of our broader Convention to help make our churches safe places for survivors and the vulnerable safe from abuse,” he said.
The work is “aimed at providing long-term solutions” for churches and entities to prevent abuse and “respond appropriately” to all cases of abuse, Barber added.
Concerning the group’s work, ARITF member Brad Eubank said this month that he has heard “a genuine desire to get this right” when speaking with fellow pastors and abuse survivors.
The Cooperation Group, Barber noted, “is on track to announce recommendations well in advance of the annual meeting in Indianapolis.”
Chaired by Texas pastor Jared Wellman, the group recently completed its research phase and will reconvene in January.
The group’s work addresses “the beating heart” of the SBC, said Barber – the cooperative spirit of all Southern Baptist churches and agencies. Reasserting a cooperative ideal “is the great task of this moment” amid churches who are also autonomous, he noted.
The Great Commission Resurgence Evaluation Task Force is chaired by Louisiana pastor and SBC First Vice President Jay Adkins. Preparation and study by the group thus far has led them to a phase of interviewing “key leaders who were involved in or affected by the implementation of the GCR recommendations.”
Deadline for submitting committee nominations approaches
In October Barber asked Southern Baptists to help in finding nominees for seats on the Registration Committee, the Committee on Committees, the Tellers Committee and Committee on Resolutions. The deadline for submitting those nominations runs through the end of the year, ending at midnight on Jan. 1.
After a recommendation is made, that individual will receive an email inviting them to complete an application to serve on that committee. So far, four out of ten people who have been recommended did not complete the application form.
The SBC’s governing documents do not require the president to take such steps, only to consult with other SBC officers in making the appointments.
The recommendation process has provided statistics of those who have completed applications.
- Men comprise 93.09 percent of applicants.
- Ethnic breakdown of applicants
- White/Caucasian 87.91 percent
- Hispanic 4.65 percent
- Asian-American 4.19 percent
- American Indian or Alaska Native 2.33 percent
- Black .93 percent
- Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 0 percent
- The self-reported average Cooperative Program giving percentage among applicants is 7.4 percent.
- The self-reported average weekly attendance of the churches represented is 453.
State conventions from which no applications have been received to serve on one of the four committees are Alaska, the Dakotas, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Montana, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Deadlines for the actual appointments go into the second half of the SBC presidential year.
Members of the Committee on Resolutions will be announced first, Barber said. In New Orleans, messengers adopted changes to the committee’s work that led to a published report and proposed resolutions in advance of the annual meeting.
“This change will give each messenger time to read the proposed resolutions, think about them and pray before voting,” Barber said.