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States embrace religious liberty, spiritual awakening

NASHVILLE (BP) — Still alarmed by subpoenas of sermons and correspondence for pastors who opposed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, resolutions on religious liberty and free speech were passed in more than a dozen state Baptist convention meetings this fall.

State conventions also took a larger view of America’s spiritual need, with many committing to pray for spiritual awakening and revival in sync with the ongoing emphasis of Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd. Various states also provided time in their schedules to set forth Floyd’s appeal to come to Columbus, Ohio, to pray for spiritual awakening during the SBC’s June 16-17 annual meeting and to participate in the preceding Crossover Columbus evangelistic outreach.

A resolution passed by Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists, for example, expressed a prayer that “before we meet again … we will witness a great revival and renewal throughout our two-state convention.”

In addition to religious liberty issues, resolutions upholding a traditional definition of marriage and opposing a redefinition of gender identity also drew consensus from messengers in numerous states.

Those topics were introduced in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah-Idaho, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and West Virginia.

Southern Baptists in New Mexico, for example, with a meeting theme of “Standing Strong,” expressed their resolve to pray for neighboring Texans fighting the violation of First Amendment rights in Houston. They pledged to “stand in like fashion in the event that similar legal action be taken against pastors or ministers in the state of New Mexico.”

Alabama Baptists embraced the Baptist Faith & Message “as an expression of our unity in doctrine and practice,” joining numerous states that affirmed the Southern Baptist Convention’s doctrinal statement in years past.

Messengers meetings in Tennessee and Nevada joined the list of 22 other state and regional conventions that have elected non-Anglos to serve as state convention presidents – Michael Ellis and Greg Fields, respectively. Mississippi Baptists also made history by electing Larry Young as the first African American convention officer.

Alaska Baptists elected the first African American as a state convention president in 1972, while the first Hispanic to serve as a state convention president was elected in New Mexico in 1993. Among other ethnic backgrounds among state convention presidents over the years: Korean-American, Native American, Japanese-American, Chinese-American, Hawaiian-American, Jamaican and Filipino.

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  • Tammi Reed Ledbetter