ATLANTA (BP)–At the invitation of Southern Baptist Convention President Tom Elliff, about 65 SBC leaders gathered in Atlanta May 5 for a pre-convention prayer meeting for spiritual awakening.
A broad spectrum of Southern Baptists was on hand, including representatives of churches ranging from only a few hundred in attendance to mega-churches. Additionally, several denominational agency heads, seminary presidents, former SBC presidents, directors of associational missions, younger and retired pastors were in attendance. The prayer meeting began at 10 a.m. and concluded at 3 p.m.
“This meeting was focused on prayer for revival,” Elliff told the Indiana Baptist newsjournal. He said he was impressed by how various participants noted that the SBC cannot fulfill God’s will by denominational bureaucracy; instead, God wants to use men and women with broken hearts.
Asked to respond to the accusation by some media representatives last year that such pre-convention meetings were political gatherings to discuss individuals who might run for office in either Dallas this June or next year in Salt Lake City, Elliff said: “That was not the purpose of this meeting. There was no mention of a candidate or slate of candidates for either this year’s meeting in Dallas or the meeting next year in Salt Lake City.
Elliff added, “Southern Baptists should never hesitate to discuss possible candidates for leadership … . In fact, they should be encouraged to do so. Our very process requires that a nominee give prior permission to be nominated. That permission requires discussion … and it is only logical that a wise candidate would seek the counsel of many before embarking on such a weighty responsibility. But that was not the purpose of this meeting. We met in Atlanta to pray that God would meet with us as we gather in Dallas.”
Elliff noted he asked several men to share from their unique vantage point about the specific burdens on their heart. “After each man spoke, we then turned to the Lord in prayer,” he said.
“It was a time of transparency. Voices sometimes revealed the emotions attached to those burdens and eyes glistened with tears,” Elliff said with an inflection in his voice that his own heart was touched by the meeting.
Elliff noted, “Four of the men in attendance pled with the others to pray as they delivered messages at the convention. It was, to me, a sacred hour and it would be sacrilegious to further relate the content of those prayers.
“I came away from that meeting refreshed spiritually and encouraged to believe that the Lord will meet with us in a unique fashion as we gather in Dallas. The common thread tying these men together is that each, in his own arena, is a giant in the faith, yet here they were in humility before the Lord beseeching him for revival. I pray that this spirit of purpose and calling to the cross will invade our convention.”
R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, affirmed the intentions and actions of the informal group. He said of the meeting, “President Tom Elliff demonstrated genuine leadership in calling together this group of Southern Baptists to pray together, talk together and to seek a common mind. The issue was not denominational politics, but vision, conviction and concern for our churches. I was greatly impressed by the spiritual concerns and burden demonstrated by those gathered. We are committed to the Southern Baptist Convention continuing the course of conservative leadership and we pray to see genuine theological and biblical reformation take place, not only in our denomination, but also in our churches.”
Mohler added, “The meeting was historical in the sense that different generations of Southern Baptist leadership could speak to each other with a common heart and an common concern. This was a historic, clarifying moment.”
Elliff requested that every Southern Baptist continue to pray fervently for spiritual awakening.