EDITOR’S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP) — One of the most powerful features in our upcoming Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus, Ohio, will occur in our final afternoon session on Wednesday, June 17. This is not the year to leave the annual meeting early!
The Stakes Are Rising
The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments this week for and against redefining marriage in America. Marriage between a man and a woman is a God-ordained institution; the courts in our land do not need to attempt to redefine what God Himself has already clearly defined.
Yet, this week the stakes continue to rise regarding marriage in our nation. If the Supreme Court rules to redefine marriage, the continual attack that is already taking place on religious liberty will escalate.
Hear me clearly: If we lose the freedom of religion, then all the freedoms we have today will begin to diminish.
What is at stake is great. This is undeniable. We do not control the Supreme Court. At this point, our number one role must be to pray. Regardless of the outcome, may God have mercy on America and teach us how to live daily.
Preparing our churches for the future
It is incumbent upon us to do all we can with all we have to prepare our churches for the future. The Supreme Court may rule on this issue within days of or during our convention in Columbus and, regardless of the outcome, our churches need to be prepared. We must respond to the issue and toward those who may have differing opinions in a way that would represent our Lord Jesus Christ in the highest manner. Unquestionably, things are changing, and the way we address this issue must be done with the truth of God in one hand and the love of God in the other hand.
Our Southern Baptist churches must rise in this moment and minister to people of all ages who are wrestling with all the challenges of the sexual revolution in America. Children and teenagers need help. Parents need help. Adults of all ages need help. Pastors, Christian leaders and churches need help.
Since this need is so pressing, I appealed to our 2015 Committee on Order of Business to allocate some time for us to address it on Wednesday afternoon during the SBC annual meeting. I am thankful to Dr. Andrew Hebert, our chairman, and the members of this committee who provided us with an answer to this need.
We created an SBC Presidential Panel for a session titled “The Supreme Court and Same Sex marriage: Preparing Our Churches for the Future.” I prayerfully thought about who could contribute to this conversation and sought counsel from others. I am absolutely thrilled with who God has put together. I will lead this panel with five gifted people, each of whom has valuable insight into this discussion.
The Presidential Panel includes:
— R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
— Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Nashville
— Rosaria Butterfield, writer, speaker, educator, pastor’s wife and author, Durham, N.C.
— Ryan Blackwell, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, San Francisco
— Matt Carter, senior pastor, The Austin Stone Community Church, Austin, Texas
While most of us are very familiar with the giftedness and contributions of Dr. Mohler and Dr. Moore, the other three leaders also will bring a special perspective. Recently, I listened to the powerful testimony of Rosaria Butterfield concerning this issue. You will not want to miss her insight. Additionally, my 31-year-old dear friend, Ryan Blackwell, has pastored San Francisco’s First Baptist Church for four years. Matt Carter has pastored in the capital city of Texas since 2002 and speaks into the lives of people weekly who live and navigate through cultural issues.
Spread the word and join us for the final session of our 2015 Southern Baptist Convention. Do not miss any session of the SBC, including this final session. Let’s experience our convention all the way through the final prayer with a great expectation for God to encounter us powerfully.