This will be my last post before I head to Phoenix on Sunday for the start of the SBC Aspire Pastor’s Conference and the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. I’ll be posting regular updates from Phoenix beginning Monday morning. I’m not sure that I’ll be “live blogging” per se, but check back often throughout next week for my take on the goings-on at this year’s event. With the number of messengers making the trip to Phoenix maybe one of the lowest on record, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be a dull Convention.
Unless you happen to read The Pathway, Missouri Baptists’ State newspaper, you would have no idea that a motion will be made at the Convention which calls for revisiting the recommendations of the GCR. The motion, which already has the support of at least 100 grassroots conservative Southern Baptists (many of whom are current and former leaders within the Convention) states:
“that the Convention create a special committee to be called the Unity Committee, to review, evaluate and make recommendations about perceptions and realities about the impact and implementation of the GCR Task Force Report during the past year by SBC entities, state conventions and related organizations and networks, that the committee bring a report and recommendations to the 2012 SBC annual meeting; and that the Committee be comprised of 21 members to be appointed by the President, fully representational of Southern Baptists and that the minutes, records and proceedings from the Committee’s meetings and work be open to the Southern Baptist public and available to all Southern Baptists no later than 12 months after it has given its report to the SBC.” (full Pathway article here)
The special committee, to be called the “Unity Committee,” would be tasked with reviewing the “impact and implementation” of the GCR recommendations since Orlando. The name of this committee encapsulates the division that the GCR has caused in the last year. The original GCR Task Force — designed to bring recommendations that would help Southern Baptists more effectively carry out the Great Commission — has become a divisive wedge that continues to cause both short-term and long-term harm to our Convention.
Grassroots Southern Baptists, who were the backbone of the Conservative Resurgence, are beginning to make their voices heard about the radical redefinition and reorganization that has taken place within the last year (here, here, and here). That the records of the Unity Committee would be available for all Southern Baptists to read is a refreshing step toward true transparency within the Convention, something that was woefully lacking in the GCRTF process (here and here).
Of course, there is no guarantee that the motion will survive the Committee on Order of Business, which has the authority either to schedule the motion for debate and a vote on the floor of the Convention or to effectively kill it in committee by recommending that the Presiding Officer (Bryant Wright) rule the motion out-of-order. There are still ways to get the motion to the floor (i.e., messengers vote to overrule the ruling of the Chair), but that is certainly not the easiest path.
On Tuesday, I wrote:
The temperatures maybe high in Phoenix next week, but those high temperatures will be mainly confined to outside the Convention Center. Inside, among the messengers of the SBC, the temperatures will be rather mild.
This is yet the second time that I have had to revise my forecast. Little did I know it at the time, but both of my revisions are related. Grassroots conservative Southern Baptists will begin to make their voices heard in Phoenix. Since Orlando, the disconnect between rank-and-file Southern Baptists and the establishment elites within the Convention has continued to grow. Perhaps nothing better illustrates what divides cooperating conservative SBs from top-down SBs than the nomination of Dr. Fred Luter for 1st Vice President of the Convention.
BP recently reported on Dr. Luter’s church, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans:
In 2010, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church reported primary worship attendance of 4,000; undesignated receipts of $4,407,217; Cooperative Program contributions of $261,798; a Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions gift of $35; an Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions gift of $1,323; and $479,540 in total missions expenditures.
In a Convention of churches who have been known for cooperating together for missions and ministries, a pastor whose church reportedly gave only $35 to Lottie Moon and $1,323 to Annie Armstrong is considered by the President of Southeastern Seminary to be worthy to lead all Southern Baptists in the coming days:
“I can’t imagine anyone more qualified and more worthy to be nominated to this position than Fred.”
Maybe Dr. Akin is right. But, if he is, then the slow death of the cooperative program and of the Southern Baptist Convention will not be as slow as some had imagined! Now, it’s on to Phoenix!