(EDITOR’S NOTE: The full text of the Executive Committee’s Call to Prevailing, Intercessory Prayer is posted at the end of this story.)
NASHVILLE (BP) — Intercessory prayer and special disaster recovery funding topped the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee agenda during its Nashville meeting Sept. 18–19, which marked the group’s centennial.
The Executive Committee unanimously approved a resolution calling Southern Baptists and other Christians to prevailing prayer in the midst of “racial unrest, cataclysmic storms, raging wildfires, political strife, daily shootings in cities across the land, and rampant disregard for the commands and teachings of God’s Word.”
EC President Frank S. Page led those in attendance in a special prayer, recognizing God’s power to overcome obstacles too great for mankind.
“The needs that are out there are bigger than we are, but they’re not bigger than You, and we rely on You,” Page interceded. “We pray, God, that God’s people would rise up to minister like never before … and do what Christian people do, because it’s right, because there’s a need.”
EC chairman Stephen Rummage pledged to read the resolution during Sept. 24 worship services at his pastorate, Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., and exhorted other pastors and leaders to do the same.
“I know that my church family will be thrilled to know that the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention has a heart for prayer, and we’re just going to have a season of prayer together as a church, related to the needs that are explained and so beautifully talked about in this resolution,” Rummage said. “I would challenge you and encourage you to do that if you’re a pastor, and certainly any leadership opportunity the Lord would give you, to call our people to prayer.”
The resolution encourages Christians to pray by:
— “Humbly acknowledging God’s sovereign control over the world He created;”
— “Regularly communing with God through meditating on His Word and praying in the Spirit;”
— “Earnestly desiring to know the heart of God, the mind of Christ, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit in every word, thought, and deed,” and
— “Joyfully turning from fleshly allurements that seek to distract us from complete surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of our lives.”
With Southern Baptists responding concurrently to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and with Hurricane Maria raging through the already battered Caribbean, Southern Baptists committed additional dollars to disaster recovery.
The EC will give the first $1.25 million of any overage in the SBC’s 2016-2017 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget to disaster relief efforts in Florida and Texas. The full budget overage for the Executive Committee, meanwhile, will be forwarded to the International Mission Board for international disaster relief, the EC voted, while also making provision for other SBC entities to assist with hurricane relief from their budgets through a one-time action to suspend SBC bylaw stipulations.
The actions came as the EC marked 100 years of service. Southern Baptists formed the EC in 1917 “to act for the Convention during the interim of its meetings on matters not otherwise provided for in its plans of work.”
In what Page described as a “low-key” celebration, he told the EC “we don’t exist to promote ourselves. We exist to make sure missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention succeed…. So we don’t need to have much attention to ourselves.”
In other business, the EC received a report from an ad hoc Cooperative Program Study Committee formed at the EC’s February 2017 meeting after a motion cited a “current reality in Southern Baptist life of churches either escrowing or discontinuing Cooperative Program funds.”
In its report, the study committee said less than .0016 percent of Southern Baptist churches have withheld, designated or escrowed CP funds — a percentage “lower than anticipated.”
The reasons for redirecting CP funds, the ad hoc committee’s final report stated, “varied as much and the number of churches identified.” The committee issued 10 suggestions and encouragements for increased cooperation moving forward.
In other business, the EC approved a detailed 2017-2018 EC and SBC Operating Budget of $7.45 million. That amount reflects the budget approved at June’s SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.
Also during the meeting, Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, presented the EC with checks totaling more than $778,000 for the SBC’s two mission boards. The contributions were the sum of offerings this summer by participants in LifeWay’s Fuge, CentriKids and World Changers ministries — $468,000 for the International Mission Board and $310,000 for the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
In a special CP gift beyond its annual contribution, the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention gave the EC $274,500, half of a $549,000 estate gift earmarked for the CP. Chad Garrison, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., presented the check after leading the devotion during the Sept. 18 plenary session.
Resolution of appreciation
The EC approved a resolution of appreciation honoring J. Robert White for 25 years of service as executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
Noting White’s “unwavering commitment to God’s Word” and “his steadfast devotion to the cause of Christ,” the EC commended White for “visionary and effective leadership … for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”
White began leading Georgia Baptists in 1993 and led the convention through “numerous crises that threatened the health and unity of the convention,” the resolution notes.
In 2002, the EC honored White with the M.E. Dodd Cooperative Program Award in recognition of exemplary leadership promoting the CP. Georgia Baptists have given more than $1 billion to missions and ministry through the CP under White’s leadership, the resolution reads.
In other action:
— the EC approved a request from NAMB to amend the articles of incorporation of its former subsidiary, FamilyNet Inc., to change its name to Send Relief, Inc.
— elected Mrs. V.J. Sanchez, a layperson and member of Briggs Road Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, to fill a vacancy on the 2017-1018 SBC Committee on Nominations.
— declined to recommend at the SBC 2018 meeting in Dallas a bylaws amendment requiring that SBC nomination speeches include information on CP giving. SBC messengers, the EC said, “are fully capable of using all publicly available information about any nominee to determine whether the content of any nominating speech is accurate, sufficient, and persuasive.”
— declined to recommend to SBC 2018 messengers a referral requesting that SBC entities publish trustee contact information, because such information is available on SBC.net, in the online and print editions of the SBC Annual, and on the websites of various SBC entities as pertinent.
— heard various ministry reports and updates from SBC entities and related organizations.
Please see full text of call to prayer below.
Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
A Call to Prevailing, Intercessory Prayer
In light of recent events that have shaken our nation—racial unrest, cataclysmic storms, raging wildfires, political strife, daily shootings in cities across the land, and rampant disregard for the commands and teachings of God’s Word—the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention calls on Southern Baptists and fellow Christians to join us in pledging to engage in prevailing, intercessory prayer by:
• HUMBLY ACKNOWLEDGING God’s sovereign control over the world He created (“shall humble themselves”);
• REGULARLY COMMUNING with God through meditating on His Word and praying in the Spirit (“and pray”);
• EARNESTLY DESIRING to know the heart of God, the mind of Christ, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit in every word, thought, and deed (“and seek My face”);
• JOYFULLY TURNING from fleshly allurements that seek to distract us from complete surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of our lives (“and turn from their evil ways”).
The Executive Committee further calls on ourselves and others to engage in such prevailing, intercessory prayer for no ulterior purpose but to know Him (Philippians 3:10) and to make Him known among the nations (Psalm 67:1–2)—not to return to an idolized, idyllic vision of an era in human history now past; nor to wield influence in the public square in respect to political processes and outcomes; nor even to protect and preserve our lives and possessions from the ravages that afflict this fallen world; not to forestall the Lord’s hand of righteous judgment upon a sinful nation; nor to seek justice for the oppressed; nor even to effect revival and spiritual awakening in our land—as noble as these all may be, but merely for the joy of dwelling daily in His presence.