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Bobby Welch says evangelism ‘absolutely must unify us’


OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–The battle for the Bible is over in the Southern Baptist Convention, but SBC President Bobby Welch nevertheless is preaching about unity wherever his “Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for Evangelism” bus tour stops.

Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., is not overly concerned about “peacemaking” in the SBC. For him, issues that fostered the conservative resurgence in the SBC are settled.

“Our convention continues to be a place where good and thoughtful people can and will disagree about this or that. And that’s OK,” Welch said. “But if there is one matter Southern Baptists must agree on, one matter that absolutely must unify us, it’s that those who don’t know Jesus need to hear about Jesus.”

Concerning his bus tour’s kickoff of the “Everyone Can” push for Southern Baptists to “Witness, Win and Baptize … ONE MILLION!” in one year, Welch noted: “We’re trying to use this bus and the tour as a pointed needle pulling a unifying thread so we can stitch together this mosaic we call the Southern Baptist Convention.

“I want every Southern Baptist to be wrapped up in the fabric of our fortune and our future. And that’s evangelism,” Welch said.

Two of three scheduled rally points for Welch’s bus tour on Sept. 10 were at First Baptist Church of Dallas and First Baptist in Denton, Texas. Whereas FBC Dallas is aligned with the new Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and FBC Denton is aligned with the old-line Baptist General Convention of Texas, both churches are intentionally evangelistic, baptizing hundreds annually.

“We have great reason to believe that all Southern Baptists are ready to move to this unity of purpose in evangelism,” Welch said. “It is a heartening experience to see that states [with two Baptist conventions] like Virginia and Texas are both willing to enthusiastically and wholeheartedly embrace the Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for Evangelism.”

The last stop of the day was at Oklahoma’s largest Native American church, Glorieta Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Competing with Friday night high school football and a statewide Promise Keepers event, the Everyone Can rally at the church drew more than 200 people, many from Native American Baptist churches in Oklahoma.

“Our ethnic Southern Baptist churches are equally as important as all others in the SBC,” Welch said. “The Lord’s Great Commission exempts no one from the Gospel, whether they be the messengers or the masses.

“The Bible says there will be people in heaven from every nation, tribe, people and language. And I believe Christians from every nation, tribe, people and language are needed to tell those of their own culture and others about our Savior, Jesus Christ,” Welch said.

A break in the bus tour is scheduled until Sept. 16, when Welch will visit the SBC’s North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga.
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  • Norm Miller