PHOENIX (BP)–President George W. Bush shared a message with Southern Baptists by videotape on June 17, citing many shared values with the SBC and asking for God’s blessing on the convention.
Bush spoke from Washington to Southern Baptists convening in Phoenix for the annual meeting of the nation’s largest non-Catholic denomination, encompassing more than 16 million members.
Tim Goeglein, special assistant to Bush and deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, introduced Bush’s greeting and said the White House has been overwhelmed by e-mails and letters — many from Southern Baptists — saying they are praying for the administration.
“On behalf of all of us in the Bush administration, thank you,” Goeglein said. “… [E]ach and every day in the White House, we lift up all of you in prayer as well.”
Bush told the crowd in his taped message, “You and I share many common values” such as “fostering the culture of life” and upholding marriage and family as sacred institutions that should be preserved and strengthened.
The president also cited agreement with many Southern Baptists who are opposed to judges who legislate from the bench, who are against human cloning and who support faith-based charities.
He said his administration seeks to bring hope to oppressed people, noting the allotment of $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa and elsewhere and a proposed emergency famine fund.
“In this time of testing we turn to prayer, with confidence that we are not walking alone. We pray for the families who have suffered recent loss. We pray for the men and women who serve around the world to defend our freedom and for their loved ones back at home. We pray for the wisdom to know and do what is right. … May God bless the Southern Baptist Convention and may God continue to bless America.”
Prior to Bush’s address, Jerry Colangelo, managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks major league baseball franchise and Phoenix Suns pro basketball team, welcomed Southern Baptists to Phoenix.
Colangelo, known widely as an evangelical Christian, came to the platform with Bible in hand and said his Italian heritage made him partial to the Book of Romans.
Reading from Romans 8 and Romans 12, he cited the justification and glorification of the “called” and the proper exercise of the gifts the Apostle Paul described as distributed to the body of believers.
“I think that kind of summarizes why you are all here today,” Colangelo said, noting that he is mindful of the visibility God has given him, trying daily to exercise the “responsibility and accountability that goes with that platform.”
John Avant, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga., delivered the traditional welcome, saying a pastor friend of his from Phoenix has testified to the authenticity of Colangelo’s faith.
Addressing Southern Baptists, Avant described the SBC’s emphasis on “Empowering Kingdom Growth” as a call to “holy living, sacrificial service and global witness.”