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Resolutions provide means for SBC to speak its mind

SALT LAKE CITY (BP)–Whether the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Salt Lake City will be remembered for the resolutions it passes — as in the 1997 SBC resolution targeting The Disney Company for economic action — isn’t Michael Whitehead’s primary concern.
“Our desire is that we would speak only such words that are edifying according to the need of the moment as we speak to Southern Baptists about biblical convictions and as we speak to non-Southern Baptists about what Baptists believe,” Whitehead, chair of the SBC’s 1998 Committee on Resolutions, said.
Acknowledging the committee’s work draws a tremendous amount of media attention, Whitehead, vice president of business affairs and assistant professor of church and law at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo., said committee members will work to be “discreet and precise in statements they make to the public and in the words used in resolutions.” But don’t look for the committee to deliver form instead of substance. Whitehead said the committee would not be overly “cautious” in recommending resolutions to the convention floor for action, noting the committee’s members are known for their “aggressive and vigorous” interest in applying biblical principles to daily life.
“The large amount of attention a resolution like the Disney resolution draws does not intimidate these folks and would not cause them to pull any punches on speaking to issues they think this convention wants to address,” Whitehead said. He explained the resolutions process is the means “by which the convention expresses its opinions on contemporary issues.” Proposed resolutions received by the committee in advance of the SBC ranged from support for covenant marriage to outrage over television programming to concern over women in combat. Whitehead said the committee also expects to receive messengers’ resolutions on the morality of public officials, condemning coercive evangelism, encouraging evangelism to Roman Catholics and asserting the exclusivity of the Christian gospel.
According to the bylaws of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Committee on Resolutions is charged with preparing and submitting to the convention resolutions which “the Committee deems appropriate for adoption” and to report to the SBC “on all matters submitted to it by the Convention.”
Resolutions provided to the committee in advance of the SBC annual meeting must still be submitted on the first day of the convention by a registered messenger, according to the bylaws.
In addition to Whitehead, committee members are Eunice Smith of Alabama, Bob Oxford of Colorado, Roger Ellsworth of Illinois, James Smith of Kentucky, Evodna Springer of Louisiana, Michael Trammell of Maryland, Clark Stewart of Mississippi, James Wells of Missouri and Forrest Claunch of Oklahoma. –30-
FIRST-PERSON Love, hurt & tears felt for Temple Square missionaries By Joni B. Hannigan SALT LAKE CITY, June 7–“Are people angry at us because of our beliefs?” Maria inquired, guiding me toward a simple but spectacular circular room. An impressive, bright statue of Jesus Christ was centered against a backdrop of a bright blue sky painted with the stars and planets of the universe.
Pausing for a moment to face her squarely, I reached out and squeezed her arm. “Certainly not, Maria. We love you. I love you so much that it hurts to know that you are being deceived,” I said, looking to the left of Maria to include her partner, Consuelo, in my declaration.
“Sister” Maria is a 26-year old Mormon missionary from the Caribbean. Her companion, 21-year old “Sister” Consuelo, was from Puerto Rico. Both young women introduced themselves to me in Salt Lake City’s Temple Square while I was reading through literature placed in the foyer of Assembly Hall. After asking me if I was a Southern Baptist, the young women offered me a guided tour of the immaculate grounds and buildings at the home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As we walked, scores of attractive young women guided visitors into the Mormon Tabernacle and then on to the visitors center with its impressive oil paintings, piped-in scripture readings, mellowed wooden benches and plush carpet. Inside the tabernacle, Maria spoke in hushed terms about the hard working men and women of the LDS church and of the building’s impressive acoustics.
Asking me personal questions about my family, my job and where I came from, the missionaries looked surprised when I asked them about their assignment, where they were from and how they got involved in the LDS church.
Whenever I asked them a question, they took the opportunity to point to another feature of the building. After inviting me to come on Sunday to listen to the choir, they accompanied me outside into a fragrant garden near the visitors center.
“Have you ever read the Book of Mormon?” Maria began.
“I have reviewed parts of it,” I responded.
“What did you think?”
Both she and Consuelo looked at me expectantly. After a moment of hesitation, I decided to be honest. Uttering an earnest prayer within my heart, I looked directly at both women and said, “I do not believe it to be a true or historical account of anything related to God’s teachings.”
Maria nodded with a knowing smile. “Ah, you are a teacher and you need things to be proven. I believe it is true because I have faith.”
“No, don’t misunderstand me,” I said gently. “I have faith — but I also know that God gives us intelligence and discernment. He created us that way. The Book of Mormon is full of contradictions and falsifications. God’s way to salvation through Jesus Christ is simple — and it’s all in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Nothing contradicts. Why would we need more?”
Catching the eye of a guide, Maria urged me on to the visitors center , up the stairs through a gallery of beautiful paintings depicting the life of Christ and into an observatory-like room. We talked while we walked. Maria told me she loved Jesus Christ and the heavenly Father. We discussed a handful of doctrines. Maria seemed surprised when I continued to quote Scriptures to her about God, about Jesus Christ, about the Bible and about the need to stay away from false prophets and teachings.
“Joseph Smith was a good man and a true prophet. He received visions from God,” Maria entreated.
“He did many things,” I began, looking at the hope in her eyes. Then I felt compelled to speak the truth.
“He was a false prophet,” I whispered, “and he has misled many people.”
That’s when Maria and Consuelo led me up the stairs toward the statue.
“Isn’t Jesus wonderful?” Consuelo said.
“Yes, Consuelo,” I smiled. “He is wonderful, but so simple. He doesn’t need all of this — just the simple truth contained in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
“God gave us his Son, Jesus Christ, because we are incapable of working for our salvation,” I told her. “It’s because God loves us unconditionally and doesn’t need whatever we can do. I believe it’s only through grace that we can receive all that God offers.
“I love you and God does too,” I said, hugging both girls when Maria shoved a map of the rest of the square into my hands. “I’ll pray for you.”
Walking away, my troubled and watery eyes took in little of the elaborate surroundings or the excited and eager young faces lining the paths. As I assured Maria, I’m not angry, just hurting.

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  • Dwayne Hastings