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‘Kingdom Forever’ is SBC focus for June 15-16 meeting in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Southern Baptists will gather in Indianapolis June 15-16, continuing their Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative by focusing on the theme “Kingdom Forever.”

The theme, drawn from Matthew 6:13 — “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” — is the second consecutive year in which the theme has centered on the EKG (Empowering Kingdom Growth) initiative, which began in 2002. The initiative asks all Southern Baptists to examine if they are Kingdom-focused.

“The Southern Baptist Convention is an opportunity for us to share with the world what God is doing in our lives, in our churches and through the people known as Southern Baptists,” SBC President Jack Graham said. “… This gathering will challenge us all to renew our passion for the Great Commission and issues of eternal impact.”

The annual meeting will feature “Kingdom Challenge” sermons by such speakers as David Jeremiah and Franklin Graham, singing by the Gaither Vocal Band, and will coincide with the release of “EKG: The Heartbeat of God,” written by EKG national strategist Kenneth Hemphill. The book traces the history of God’s Kingdom from biblical days through today.

Some significant business matters will be presented to messengers, including:

— The Baptist World Alliance. Messengers are scheduled to vote on a recommendation adopted by the Executive Committee to withdraw from the Baptist World Alliance. The committee, as well as a study committee on SBC/BWA relations, has cited various theological concerns with the Baptist World Alliance.

— Sole membership. A motion pertaining to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and sole membership may be considered. The seminary remains the only SBC entity not to adopt the corporate model of sole membership, which would clarify that the SBC owns the seminary. Recently New Orleans trustees voted to present 2 alternatives to messengers in 2005 instead of adopting the recommendation of the Executive Committee to name the convention as sole member of the seminary’s corporation.

— Annuity Board name change. Messengers will consider a proposal to change the Annuity Board’s name and expand its ministry opportunities. It has been approved by the Executive Committee. The entity’s name would change to GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, and it would be permitted to serve evangelical ministry organizations outside the SBC.

“Southern Baptists of Indiana are excited about hosting our larger Southern Baptist family for the convention meeting in Indianapolis this June,” Stephen P. Davis, executive director of the State Convention of Baptist in Indiana, said. “… People all over the mid-west will discover what Southern Baptists are all about, so all of our north central state conventions will benefit. And best of all, Hoosier hospitality will shower our Southern Baptist family with Christian love.”

Jack Graham will preside over his final convention, having served his second one-year term. He will deliver his president’s address at approximately 11:10 a.m. on Tuesday, June 15. That afternoon, around 2:30, messengers will elect a new president. Bobby Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., is expected to be nominated to succeed Graham.

Following a pattern begun last year, this year’s convention will feature “Kingdom Challenge” sermons by prominent national and Southern Baptist leaders.

David Jeremiah, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in California, will speak at 3:13 p.m. Tuesday, while Jay Strack, president of Student Leadership University in Florida, will speak at 8:38 that night.

Roy J. Fish, evangelism professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, will deliver the third Kingdom Challenge message at 10:09 a.m. Wednesday, with Franklin Graham capping the night at 8:53 p.m.

Both night sessions likely will be attended heavily.

The Tuesday night session features a message by Strack, followed by the North American Mission Board report (9:08 p.m.).

Wednesday night’s schedule includes the International Mission Board report (7:53 p.m.), the Gaither Vocal Band (8:23 p.m.) and Franklin Graham.

Steve Gaines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gardendale, Ala., will deliver the convention message at 11:29 a.m. Wednesday.

The Executive Committee will deliver a report at 9:55 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Part of its report will be the de-funding of the Baptist World Alliance.

LifeWay Christian Resources will present its report at 3:33 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission at 6:49 p.m. that night. The Annuity Board will present its report at 11:04 a.m. Wednesday.

The Woman’s Missionary Union report will take place at 2:14 p.m. Tuesday.

All six Southern Baptist seminaries will present a separate report, with three taking place each day. On Tuesday messengers will hear reports from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (2:48 p.m.), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (4:22 p.m.) and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (8:08 p.m.). Wednesday’s reports will include Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (9:44 a.m.), Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (10:29 a.m.) and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (6:15 p.m.).

The week prior to the convention, hundreds of Southern Baptists will come together for “Crossover Indiana,” an evangelism-focused strategy that uses block parties, door-to-door visits and other efforts to spread the Gospel in and around Indianapolis. In addition, in an effort to plug new believers into churches, harvest revival services will be held June 10-12 in churches across the region.

“We are so fortunate to have the pre-convention activities of Crossover, which will greatly boost God’s kingdom work here,” Davis, the Indiana Baptist official, said. “Our pastors and churches are very appreciative of the host of volunteers who will be arriving early to help us penetrate the Indianapolis area and beyond with a tremendous evangelistic effort. We are expecting an increase in new church starts as a result.”

The annual SBC Pastors’ Conference and Woman’s Missionary Union meeting will be held June 13-14. Paige Patterson, Adrian Rogers and Stephen Olford are among the speakers at this year’s Pastors’ Conference, which will focus on the theme, “Jesus Came Preaching.” WMU’s theme is “Christ Followers.”

Messengers wishing to propose resolutions must submit them at least 15 days prior to the annual meeting, giving the Resolutions Committee a two-week period in which to consider them. Detailed guidelines on submitting resolutions are available on the Internet at www.sbcannualmeeting.net.

For the second consecutive year, online registration is available to churches and their messengers. Churches can register their messengers online at the SBC website, www.sbc.net, to avoid waiting at the counter upon arrival at the convention while a registration volunteer types in various lines of information.

More than 40 percent of messengers to the 2003 annual meeting in Phoenix registered online, and more are expected this year.

By registering online, the SBC website gives a church a “messenger reference number” form to be printed out and presented by each messenger at the SBC registration booth in exchange for a nametag and a set of ballots. The appropriate church-authorized representative must complete all online registration.

On the Sunday before the convention various Southern Baptist leaders and pastors, such as Jimmy Draper and Chuck Kelley, will be preaching at churches in and around Indianapolis. A schedule of the speakers is available by clicking on “events” at www.sbcannualmeeting.net. In addition, driving directions from the convention center to the churches are available on the website.

C. Barry McCarty of Dallas will serve as the chief parliamentarian at the annual meeting. Jimmy E. Jackson of Huntsville, Ala., and John Sullivan of Jacksonville, Fla., also will serve as parliamentarians.

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  • Michael Foust