News Articles

New president, doctrinal review top SBC June 13-14 sessions in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–The election of a new president and possible revisions to the historic Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement are on the agenda for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, June 13-14 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla.

The theme of the meeting, “Partners in the Harvest Worldwide,” is taken from Matthew 9:37-38: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers.” The theme also ties into this year’s 75th anniversary celebration of the SBC’s Cooperative Program channel for funding missions and ministry initiatives.

SBC President Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., is completing his second one-year term in office.

To date, James Merritt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Snellville, Ga., is the only named nominee for the SBC presidency. His name will be placed before messengers by Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Dallas.

An SBC official predicted messenger registration of 16,500 messengers for the 143rd session of the SBC in its 155-year history.

“A lot of Southern Baptists will take this opportunity to vacation in central Florida as well as attend the annual meeting,” said Lee Porter, longtime SBC registration secretary.

And in an effort to attract younger Southern Baptist messengers, the North American Mission Board is hosting a youth rally on June 11 beginning at 7 p.m. in the convention auditorium. Evangelist David Nasser will speak and the contemporary group Foreverafter will lead in worship.

On June 12, students are invited to attend a leadership conference, with a morning session led by NAMB President Robert E. Reccord, who will speak on principles of leadership, and Scott Grissom, a student evangelism associate for NAMB, who will lead campus evangelism training. Evangelist Jay Strack will lead the afternoon session, and the conference will conclude with a hands-on event at the “Titanic” exhibit at Universal Studios.

For more information or to register, visit the www.studentz.com/sbc Internet site.

Messengers at the Tuesday-Wednesday SBC annual meeting will hear preaching, singing and reports from SBC entities as well as vote on various important matters, including possible recommendations from the Baptist Faith and Message study committee.

Messengers to the 1999 SBC in Atlanta gave Patterson approval to form a study committee to review the Baptist Faith and Message, a statement of Baptist beliefs drafted in 1963 and amended to include an article on the family in 1998. The study committee’s recommendations will be made public following its meeting in May.

Messengers will be asked to adopt a 2000-01 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget for SBC entities in the amount of $167,996,385. More than $8.4 million over the current year’s budget, the proposed budget will retain the same distribution percentages to 12 SBC entities.

Also on the agenda is a proposed change in the Annuity Board’s mission statement and ministry assignments. In February, the SBC Executive Committee approved a proposal for the Annuity Board to expand its ministry assignments to include personal investing for Southern Baptist ministers and employees. The Annuity Board also would be allowed to offer institutional investment management services for Southern Baptist organizations.

If messengers approve the measure, it would clarify the Annuity Board’s responsibilities “to assist the churches and other denominational entities by making available retirement plan services, life and health coverage, risk management programs, and personal and institutional investment programs.”

In addition to Patterson bringing the annual message of the SBC president, the convention sermon will be preached by Bailey Smith, an Atlanta-based evangelist and former SBC president.

The two evenings of the annual meeting will feature missions presentations by the International Mission Board on Tuesday and the North American Mission Board on Wednesday.

The week prior to the SBC, the annual Crossover evangelistic effort coordinated by NAMB and Florida Baptists, will penetrate metro Orlando with the gospel. Hundreds of teenagers and adults will participate in mission opportunities through out the city.

In addition, a number of satellite meetings, such as the annual Pastors’ Conference and Woman’s Missionary Union meeting, will be held Sunday and Monday prior to the SBC annual meeting.

The two-day schedule for the annual meeting will mean messengers wanting to introduce resolutions for consideration must do so before the start of the Tuesday afternoon session. Messengers who want to have resolutions considered are urged to send them to the Resolutions Committee before the annual meeting.

The registration area, at the main entrance to the Orange County Convention Center, will open at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 11, and at 8 a.m. on the following Monday through Wednesday. It will close shortly after 9 p.m. each night.

According to SBC Bylaw 8, the church’s clerk or moderator must sign the familiar messenger card, “the best credential,” Porter said. The messenger card may be obtained from state convention offices, or in some states, the local association office. A messenger is similar to a delegate elected by a local church but traditionally has not been instructed by the church.

Porter emphasized that most state conventions do not automatically send the cards to churches. The churches must request the messenger cards from their state convention offices.

If a messenger comes to the meeting without a properly completed card, Porter said the person must go before the convention’s Credentials Committee. The Credentials Committee will open after 8:30 a.m. on Monday, June 12. Porter said any messenger who does not have a messenger card should bring a letter from the church and meet with the Credentials Committee.

The registration desk will also be able to accommodate messengers who need to send messages either by telegram or fax, and it will serve as the convention’s lost and found office, Porter said.

The qualifications for messengers wanting to register for the convention are found in Article III of the SBC Constitution. Messengers of the convention are members of missionary Baptist churches cooperating with the convention as follows:

“1. One messenger from each church which (1) Is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work. Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior. And, (2) Has been a bona fide contributor to the Convention’s work during the fiscal year proceeding.

“2. One additional messenger from each such church for every 250 members; or for each $250 paid to the work of the Convention during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting.

“3. The messengers shall be appointed and certified by the churches to the Convention, but no church may appoint more than 10.

“4. Each messenger shall be a member of the church by which he is appointed.”

Porter said the convention does not register “alternate messengers.”

Other amenities provided by the registration desk include nametags and a service to locate messengers’ hotel rooms. Porter said messengers should include the name and number of their hotel on their registration cards.

Visitors from churches are also encouraged to come to the meeting, Porter said. The Orange County Convention Center provides ample space for both messengers and guests, he added.

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes