ATLANTA (BP) — If Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings were tallied like college or NBA basketball games, Barry McCarty would be the leader in minutes played. In the course of 29 annual meetings, no one has accumulated more platform time in the SBC’s annual sessions than the well-known chief parliamentarian.
The Atlanta native — who became a Southern Baptist on Sunday (Aug. 16) and is joining the faculty of an SBC seminary — has logged some 540 hours on the platform. But that is only a small part of what the convention parliamentarian actually does. McCarty customarily spends a significant amount of time with the SBC presidents in preparation for the convention business sessions.
McCarty has now served under 16 SBC presidents, beginning in 1986 with Charles Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta. His parliamentary expertise has been invaluable in helping convention leaders navigate through some rather stormy business sessions, particularly during the Conservative Resurgence.
McCarty also is a preacher, teacher, pastor and educator. He holds a Ph.D. in rhetoric and argumentation from the University of Pittsburgh, has served as president of Cincinnati Christian University and until recently was senior pastor of Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta.
Throughout his ministry McCarty had served the Lord in the Stone-Campbell tradition that sought to restore Christian unity through abolishing creeds and returning to the principles of the early churches described in the New Testament.
“In reading Baptist history,” McCarty recounted, “I discovered that the desire to recover New Testament Christianity was also what the Anabaptists were striving to do during the Protestant Reformation.”
At the most recent SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, McCarty was asked by one messenger, “Barry, when are you going to become a Southern Baptist?”
The affable parliamentarian responded, “Well, it may be sooner than you think.”
Began with 2000 BF&M
McCarty developed a love for Southern Baptists through the years and a growing appreciation for the Baptist Faith and Message as a confession of sound biblical doctrine.
“My confidence in the BF&M 2000 began 15 years ago when I assisted the SBC in its adoption,” said McCarty, a man of deep convictions who holds tenaciously to the infallibility of God’s Word. “Paige [Patterson], who was the convention president in 2000, and I had numerous conversations about that confessional document and how it would be presented to the messengers at the Orlando convention.
“I immersed myself in the content of the Baptist Faith and Message and grew to love the way it summarized the Christian faith. I especially appreciated its clear statement on salvation by grace through faith, while also affirming believer’s baptism as the biblical testimony of a saving faith in the work of Christ.”
McCarty cited three primary reasons for his decision to become a Southern Baptist. “First,” he noted, “while Southern Baptists are not a creedal people, they are a confessional people. And at this point in history the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is the best statement of faith I know of.
“Second, right now no one is speaking to our culture on the great moral issues with as much clarity or biblical integrity as Southern Baptists,” McCarty said.
“Third, at this point in history no one is doing more to penetrate lostness around the world than Southern Baptists.”
“Dr. Barry McCarty has been a like-minded believer for 15 years,” said Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “One of my greatest joys is to welcome him to Southern Baptist life in a new way. He has helped us pull our bacon out of the fire so often, and now he becomes one of us. This is the beginning of a great new chapter in the lives of Barry and Pat McCarty.”
‘We want in’
On Aug. 16, McCarty his wife Pat were baptized and welcomed into the membership of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. The McCartys selected Sherwood because of their friendship with pastor Michael Catt, the influence of Sherwood’s Refresh Conferences, and the prayers the church has lifted to God on their behalf.
“On Sunday,” McCarty told Georgia Baptists’ Christian Index newsjournal in an Aug. 14 article, “we are going to give four offerings to Sherwood Baptist Church. We are going to give our tithe, which will go to the local church, to the Georgia Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention through the Cooperative Program. We will give three gifts over and above our tithe: one to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, another gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and a gift to Mission Georgia [state missions offering].
“We get it. We understand how our convention works and we want in on all of it.”
Pat McCarty also is familiar with Southern Baptist life. When Barry served as a pastor in Dallas, she was employed by GuideStone Financial Resources, the SBC’s financial services arm. And during Barry’s pastorate in Atlanta, Pat served as an employee of the SBC’s North American Mission Board.
By month’s end Barry McCarty will have an opportunity to serve Southern Baptists in a new way — as a professor of preaching and rhetoric at Southwestern Seminary. He turned down other ministry opportunities to accept the position at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus, and it’s easy to sense his delight over the new season of ministry the Lord has provided.
“I would like for evangelicals across the nation to know my reasoning for becoming a Southern Baptist,” McCarty said, “and I would say to them, ‘If your church is having a love affair with the culture rather than lovingly speaking truth to the culture, you may need to become a Southern Baptist.’
“Southern Baptists are the strongest voice for New Testament Christianity in our generation. I want to be part of that voice.
“When the seminary presidents gave their report at this year’s convention in Columbus,” McCarty said, “Southern Seminary President Al Mohler said, ‘Ground zero for where we will be standing in 30 years is the seminary campuses right now.’ That is why I want to pour myself into the next generation of pastors and missionaries as a professor at SWBTS.”
Patterson remarked, “Everyone knows the prowess of Barry McCarty as a parliamentarian. But his greatness as a preacher and a rhetorician has been unknown to most Southern Baptists. He is a gracious pastor, a powerful preacher and a consistent witness for Christ. As professor of preaching and rhetoric at Southwestern, he makes our teaching of preaching the finest we could ever have imagined. This day, I am grateful to God that he has accepted this role.”
On August 26, 2010, The Index published an article on McCarty with the title: “The stranger among us is a wonderful friend of Southern Baptists.” The journey to becoming a Southern Baptist reminds him of the sojourners who are adopted by the tribes of Israel in Ezekiel 47:23, which says, “And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God.”
“I am a longtime sojourner who wants to claim my inheritance in this tribe, among the people known as Southern Baptists,” McCarty said.