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SBC DIGEST: ‘Road to Indy’ getting shorter; Finn named ERLC senior fellow

Southern Baptists gearing up for outreach, business in Indy

By BP Staff

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – As the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting gets closer, registration continues to trend up, and plans are taking shape for the business itself as well as the events surrounding the gathering.

As of Tuesday (April 9), registration stands at 4,200. According to Jonathan Howe, interim president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, that preregistration number harbingers 10,000-12,000 messengers. With guests, there should be a total of 15,000-17,000 people gathering in Indianapolis.

The last time Southern Baptists gathered in that city in 2008, there were 7,277 messengers.

On his “Road to Indy” video series, Howe hosts guests who share specific things for Southern Baptists to be planning for and looking forward to at this year’s annual meeting.

This week’s episode features Roger Kinoin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Greenfield, Ind., right outside Indianapolis. Kinion is the point person for this year’s Crossover, a weeklong evangelistic outreach held each year in the host city, culminating in a major push on Saturday and a celebration of God’s blessings on Sunday.

Calvary Baptist is one of the larger churches in the area, with about 120 people each Sunday. Most of the 80 churches in the Crossroads Baptist Association see fewer than 80 people each week, Kinion said.

However, he said they plan to “do our best to engage a God-sized movement for Crossover.”

Extra help, coming in the form of pastors, laypeople, seminary students, WMU leaders, etc., is very exciting, he said.

“On any given Sunday, the number is close to 90 percent of people will not be in a local church,” Kinion said of the region. “We have a lot of room for the Gospel to be presented and for churches to be embraced and undergirded.”

He urged Southern Baptists to visit the North American Mission Board’s online Crossover page to see how they can be involved. And he invited them to visit one of the area’s Southern Baptist churches on Sunday, June 9, to worship and celebrate.

“I’m in Indiana because of a convention that took place in Indianapolis almost 20 years ago,” Kinion said. “I had such a good connection during that convention to this community that when God called me here, I embraced it and came.”

In another recent episode, Howe interviewed SBC President Bart Barber, whose second and final term will end after the Indianapolis meeting. The two discussed some things messengers can expect at this year’s meeting, including the worship music and the Tuesday night session, an unusual feature in recent years. Barber also reflected on his time as president, calling the end of that time “bittersweet.” The job has involved more travel than he expected, but he has enjoyed it.

“There are so many amazing Southern Baptists all across this country,” he said.

ERLC appoints Nathan A. Finn as senior fellow

By ERLC Staff

NASHVILLE (BP) – The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has hired Nathan A. Finn to serve as a senior fellow with an emphasis on matters related to religious liberty.

Finn is a professor of faith and culture at North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C., where he also serves as executive director of the Institute for Transformational Leadership. In addition to his roles at North Greenville, Finn is the bivocational teaching pastor at Taylors First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C. 

Finn is a church historian and theologian whose research interests include Baptist history and identity, the intersection of faith and culture, the doctrine of the Christian life, and Christian higher education. Finn is active in Southern Baptist denominational leadership and serves as the current recording secretary of the SBC. He has also served as vice-chair of the Committee on Resolutions (2021), is a member of the Cooperation Group (2023-2024), and is an ex-officio member of the SBC Executive Committee (2022-present).

“Religious liberty has been a core Baptist distinctive from our movement’s inception, and it remains at the heart of the ERLC’s mission,” Finn said. “I also believe it is one of the most important justice issues of our age. I’m honored to serve Southern Baptists by helping our churches reflect on the enduring importance of religious liberty and its implications, to respond to contemporary challenges to our ‘First Freedom,’ and to better understand how the Baptist ideal of a free church in a free state helps promote Great Commission faithfulness and cultivate authentic human flourishing.”

Finn is author or editor of more than a dozen books, most notably, “The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement” (B&H Academic, 2015), “History: A Student’s Guide” (Crossway, 2016), “Historical Theology for the Church” (B&H Academic, 2021), and “A Handbook of Theology” (B&H Academic, 2023). He frequently writes columns forWORLD OpinionsandBaptist Press.

“Dr. Finn is one of the leading Baptist voices on questions of religious liberty in the public square today,” said Jason Thacker, director of the ERLC Research Institute and senior fellow. “He brings a wealth of experience and historical insight to these questions as he models how central religious liberty is to our gospel work and to Baptist identity. Religious liberty is not an optional add-on to our common life together, but absolutely central to what it means to be human and how we ought to live with one another in community as we seek to proclaim a proper understanding of the relationship of the church and state in a pluralizing society.”

Finn joins RaShan Frost, a senior fellow focusing on human dignity issues, and Thacker, who focuses on pro-life and other bioethical issues on the research team. 

Prior to his roles at North Greenville University, Finn previously served as a church historian at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina; dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee; and as provost and dean of the university faculty at North Greenville University.

Finn earned his doctor of philosophy in theological studies with a concentration in church history from SEBTS. Finn and his wife have four children.

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