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Jack Graham to religion writers: SBC is ‘strong & compassionate’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Calling the ministry of Southern Baptists “strong and compassionate,” SBC President Jack Graham gave a state of the denomination report to religion reporters from across the nation Sept. 20.

People are reassessing their priorities, Graham said of the post-9/11 era, and words such as “faith,” “family” and “liberty” are returning to the collective vocabulary. In this time, he said, it is important Southern Baptists define their beliefs.

“In a world full of fear, I pray Southern Baptists will bring a message of hope, love and life to the world,” said Graham, pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, during the annual meeting of the Religion Newswriters Association in Nashville, Tenn.

“We stumble over ourselves sometimes,” Graham said. “We’re strugglers in the journey. We don’t stand to say we have all the answers, but we do stand to tell the world that Jesus has all the answers.

“If we come across as confrontational,” Graham added, “please know that we want to speak the truth in love and we want to speak with accuracy the message of the Bible. … We believe the Bible — the Old Testament and the New Testament — is the timeless truth of biblical principles that provide the foundation for a stable society.”

Graham described Southern Baptists as “big believers in absolute truth” in an age of relativism, “and we believe moral relativism and doctrinal ambiguity are a detriment to our faith.”

The greatest cultural issue of our time, Graham said, is the restoration of the family. Graham said the divorce rate indicates that “Christians are being shaped by the culture as opposed to being shaped by God’s Word.” He said the church needs to minister to those who are divorced while aggressively upholding God’s standards.

At present, Graham said, the church offers more information than transformation in this area. Echoing former SBC President Tom Elliff, Graham asked, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Southern Baptists could divorce-proof their families?”

Graham told the religion newswriters that Southern Baptists baptized more than 400,000 people in the United States last year and, with overseas Baptists, another 395,000 people. That means one baptism about every 40 seconds, Graham said.

“Just look at your watch and somewhere in the world someone is being baptized into a new life in Christ,” Graham said.

Southern Baptists plant five new churches each day, he said, noting the convention fields more than 11,000 missionaries worldwide.

The Religion Newswriters Association is a professional association of newswriters in print, electronic and broadcast media.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: GRAHAM ADDRESSES WRITERS and WRITERS HEAR SBC PRESIDENT.

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  • Jon Walker