*Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article had a portion inadvertently omitted and has been updated & corrected now.
Before I went to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), I was incredibly proud to be a Southern Baptist.
While there, I took a step back to observe what was happening around me. As with any large event with many moving pieces, there was much to see.
The spirit of Christian fellowship, kindness and caring was powerful and present at this meeting. It was evident from people in the hallway, the vendors, and the messengers in the auditorium to the leaders on stage and from the great leadership of immediate past SBC President J.D. Greear presiding over the meeting. Any meeting where incredibly important decisions are made creates a place for contention to exist. With over 15,000 messengers present, it was incredible that so many operated from a position of passion and grace where occurrences of rudeness were isolated. It’s great that so many local autonomous churches can come together, have their voice heard, make challenging decisions, and then leave unified around the advancement of the Gospel.
Our convention nominated four great Southern Baptist leaders for SBC president and the body elected a president that they had the most confidence in to lead at this time. It’s important that we now unite together for our new president in continual prayer for guidance and wisdom.
Our convention cares deeply about eliminating racism and believes in the equality of all persons. Because the challenges are extremely complicated and as a result of our diversity, we struggle to know the best way to address them. We may disagree on the best way to move forward, but we are committed to eliminating racism. Not only do we stand against racism, but we graciously, generously, warmly welcome all people regardless of ethnicities and nationalities.
Our convention cares deeply about eliminating sexual abuse and providing ministry to survivors of sexual abuse. While these issues are complex, the messengers voiced that this must be an emphasis of top priority in all facets of SBC life.
Southern Baptists have a deep passion for evangelism, missions, church planting, discipleship, international impact, and ministering to the underserved. That passion has not wavered. The presentations and reports from our missions agencies are always the icing on the cake. A personal highlight for me was hearing from the 64 newly commissioned International Mission Board missionaries that YOU, Arkansas Baptists, support and send.
Lastly, Southern Baptists established a vision for what lies ahead. With the approval of an amended Vision 2025, we must strive to accomplish the six strategic actions presented. This includes a strong push to reach, baptize and disciple those under the age of 18 and prayerfully endeavor to eliminate all instances of sexual abuse and racial discrimination among our churches.
I went to #SBC2021 proud to be a Southern Baptist. I return from SBC 2021 even prouder.