Messengers to the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention adopted nine resolutions—some on culturally divisive issues—with almost no opposition.
All the resolutions offered in the Tuesday afternoon session (June 16) at the SBC annual meeting gained passage by unanimous or nearly unanimous votes. The messengers affirmed biblically-based stances on such topics as same-sex marriage, racial reconciliation, and the sanctity of human life, as well as religious persecution and pornography. Approved resolutions also called for spiritual awakening and celebrated the ninetieth anniversary of the Cooperative Program.
Prior to the annual meeting, the Committee on Resolutions received only four resolutions, an unusually small number. As a result, the committee initiated more resolutions than normal, but committee chairman Steve Gaines said finding topics proved no problem.
“There are so many pressing issues morally and spiritually in our nation right now, it really didn’t take long to figure that out,” Gaines said at a news conference after the committee’s report.
He illustrated for reporters what he meant by pointing to a few of the resolutions.
“When it comes to our nation, when you look back at just the last twelve to eighteen months, racial reconciliation needs to be at the top of our list,” said Gaines, senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, a suburb of Memphis. “All of us who have children or grandchildren are very concerned about pornography. All of us are concerned about abortion and not just abortion but the sanctity of life on both ends,” from “the womb to the tomb.”
He added, “It’s not hard in light of what’s going on with [the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] and what’s going on in North Korea and other places to make resolutions” on religious persecution.
The approved resolutions:
- Urged the Supreme Court in its decision later in June to affirm the right of citizens to limit marriage to a male-female union, reasserted the SBC’s belief in the biblical view of marriage no matter how the justices rule, and called for religious freedom for individuals and organizations who conscientiously object to same-sex marriage.
- Called for Southern Baptist churches and entities to work toward racial and ethnic diversity in their leaders and encouraged Southern Baptists to be “faithful ambassadors of reconciliation.”
- Affirmed the sanctity of human life “at all stages of development” and exhorted Southern Baptists to seek “the repeal of unjust laws and inhumane practices that degrade human life.”
- Denounced all religious persecution and called for Southern Baptists to pray for persecuted Christians in personal prayer and corporate worship.
- Appealed to the North Korean government to respect human rights and urged the US government to pressure North Korea to recognize the religious freedom of its citizens.
- Expressed grief over the destructive impact of pornography and affirmed the power of the Gospel of Jesus to deliver those who have committed sexual immorality.
- Pledged a commitment by Southern Baptists to seek God and to pray that He would bring revival.
- Expressed gratitude to God upon the ninetieth anniversary of the Cooperative Program for His leadership in its establishment and encouraged Southern Baptist churches to consider increases in their giving through it.
- Thanked God and all those who helped with this year’s meeting.
In presenting the resolutions to the messengers, the committee “knew that we were speaking on very important issues that we are facing in our culture and that I as a pastor think about every time I preach,” Gaines said.
“We want to speak the truth, but we always want to do it in love and redemption,” he told reporters. “And we are not in any way angry with anybody. We love everybody. But when you love the Lord, you have to say what the Bible says.”
Messengers approved amendments to three of the resolutions presented by the committee. All the changes were welcomed by the committee as friendly amendments.
All nine resolutions can be read in their entirety at www.SBC.net/resolutions.
Joining Gaines on the Committee on Resolutions were Berta Delgado-Young, communications editor and member, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas; Jason Duesing, member, Antioch Bible Baptist Church, Gladstone, Missouri, and provost, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Eric Geiger, teaching pastor, New Vision Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and a vice president of LifeWay Christian Resources; Matthew Hall, member, Clifton Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky, and vice president for academic services, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Steven Lee, lead pastor, Redeemer City Church, Washington, DC; Kathy Litton, member, First Baptist Church North Mobile, Saraland, Alabama, and leader of ministry to pastors’ wives, North American Mission Board; Stephen Rummage, pastor, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Brandon, Florida; Rolland Slade, pastor, Meridian Southern Baptist Church, El Cajon, California; and Jay Shell, member, West Baptist Church, Batesville, Arkansas.
Tom Strode is Baptist Press Washington, DC, bureau chief and is senior pastor of Covenant Community Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Resolutions Beneficial, SBC Leaders Say
by Tom Strode
Resolutions adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention offer multiple benefits. That was the response of this year’s Committee on Resolutions chairman and an SBC ethics leader when asked by a reporter shortly after messengers to the 2015 meeting adopted nine resolutions.
In unanimous or nearly unanimous votes during the Tuesday afternoon session (June 16), the Convention approved measures on such topics as marriage, racial reconciliation, the sanctity of human life, religious persecution, and spiritual awakening.
Steve Gaines, who chaired the committee, said he believes resolutions are imperative at the annual meeting even though they are not binding.
Others from various perspectives are making statements, Gaines said at a news conference, “and we want to tell them what we believe the Scripture says and what we as Baptists believe.”
“[I]t’s very important for us to do that, to do it in a loving way, and yet to do it [while] speaking the truth forthrightly based on Scripture in love,” said Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church.
Resolutions encourage Southern Baptists, he said. “When they hear their Southern Baptist Convention, which they’ve supported for years, is speaking out specifically on these issues, I think it just helps them, it affirms them, and it gives them strength to carry on.”
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told reporters the resolutions “express a unity of purpose and of thought.”
“They’re very helpful to us [the ERLC] in our work as we advocate on behalf of Southern Baptists,” he said.
As an example, Moore pointed to the resolutions that had just been adopted against religious persecution worldwide and in North Korea. Those resolutions enable the ERLC “to say to our governing authorities the nation’s largest Protestant denomination hasn’t forgotten our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted around the world,” he said. “We’re standing with them; we’re praying for them.”
Resolutions also remind Southern Baptists, pastors especially, “to think through issues that are facing churches all over the country,” Moore said.