FORT WORTH (BP) — Organizers of the 2014 Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Bible Conference and Annual Meeting made clear from the outset that they desired for prayer and spiritual awakening to serve as the focus and priority. Throughout the three-day event, Nov. 9-11, that spirit of brokenness and desperate prayer appeared to wash over the gathering at MacGorman Chapel on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
Dedicated prayer times peppered the entire SBTC meeting, from Sunday night to Tuesday. Leaders repeatedly assured attendees that they believe a fresh movement of God — and one that will truly shake American churches from a national slumber — will come only when Christians get on their knees, humble themselves and desperately seek God. Speakers reminded leaders that they bear the responsibility of modeling and leading out in that change.
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention President Jimmy Pritchard challenged messengers to contend “as one man” for spiritual awakening during his president’s address, Nov. 10.
“We are spoiled,” Pritchard said. “The Great Commission has shifted to be the Great Convenience. Our problem is not in structure. It’s in our heart.”
Pritchard said a call to spiritual awakening is born out of prayer and announced that he will be holding times of prayer in every region of Texas during 2015.
“We’ll find out if we really want spiritual awakening by who comes to those prayer meetings,” Pritchard said, adding, “Talk is cheap.”
Attendance at this year’s meeting included 981 registered messengers from 360 churches and 930 registered guests for a total of 1,911 representing 391 churches. Participation was estimated at well over 2,000 considering the number of unregistered seminary participants. The SBTC is made up of more than 2,500 affiliated churches.
In addition to extended times of prayer for revival and spiritual awakening, messengers also conducted business, adopted resolutions, approved a 2015 budget, and elected officers.
During the annual meeting, messengers completed a two-year process of approving revisions to the SBTC constitution and bylaws, which included updated language for consistency and clarity, methods of affiliation, messenger representation and quorum requirements.
Bylaws revisions can be made at a single annual meeting, but changes to the constitution require approval at two consecutive annual meetings.
During the 2013 annual meeting in Amarillo, messengers approved revisions to both, with bylaws changes dependent on the final approval of the constitution. Messengers approved the constitution again during the 2014 meeting, completing the revisions approval process.
Messengers also approved a motion to increase the size of the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation board of directors from seven to as many as 12.
The SBTC executive board also honored Jimmy Draper with the Paul Pressler Award for Distinguished Denominational Service. Draper received the honor for his excellence in leadership and service as a pastor in eight Southern Baptist churches, as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1982-84, and as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources from 1991-2006, and as interim president of Criswell College from 2013-14.
Messengers passed seven resolutions that addressed compassionate evangelism, gambling, gender identity, legislation supporting women’s and children’s health, pornography and religious liberty as well as a resolution of appreciation to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for hosting the meeting.
Messengers approved a 2015 budget of $27,488,059, which is a 1.25 percent increase from 2014. This budget is funded by $27,136,059 in Cooperative Program gifts and $352,000 from partnerships with the North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources.
The convention continues to send 55 percent of its budget for SBC Cooperative Program ministries, while designating 45 percent for Cooperative Program ministries in Texas.
Election of Officers
Jimmy Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney was re-elected for a second term as convention president. Sookwan Lee, pastor of Seoul Baptist Church in Houston was elected vice president. Dante Wright, pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock, was re-elected as recording secretary. All nominees ran unopposed.
2015 Annual Meeting
The 2015 Bible Conference and Annual Meeting of the SBTC will take place Nov. 8-10 at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston. Messengers approved Mark Estep, pastor of Spring Baptist Church in Spring, to deliver the 2015 convention sermon, with Bill Jones, executive director of the Neches River Baptist Association, as the alternate.