Jeana Floyd (left), wife of Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, presents Janet Hunt with the Willie Turner Dawson Award, which recognizes a minister's wife for making a distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church and for her Christian character and service to others. Hunt is the wife of Johnny Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga. Photo by Bill Bangham.
IN RECOGNITION OF THE BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC TEAM
WHEREAS, William Franklin “Billy” Graham II has been a monumental force for the Gospel of Jesus Christ for sixty-three years as the founder, chairman, and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; and
WHEREAS, George Beverly Shea went to be with his Lord on April 16, 2013, at age 104, having sung to more people in person than anyone else in history as the featured soloist with the Billy Graham evangelistic crusades; and
WHEREAS, Clifford Burton Barrows, who led music for the Billy Graham crusades and hosted “The Hour of Decision” radio and television programs, celebrated his 90th birthday on April 6, 2013; and
HOUSTON – Challenging economic times were expected to impact attendance to the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting, but convention leaders did not anticipate a 35 percent drop from last year’s meeting in New Orleans.
The annual meeting June 11-12 drew only 5,103 messengers to Houston from the nation's 45,000 Southern Baptist churches, according to SBC Registration Secretary Jim Wells. Arkansas Baptist messengers numbered 186.
"Church budgets are tight," Wells said. "People evaluate everything that's going to go on at the convention and make their decisions. Some have said there's just disinterest, but I really attribute it to the economy."
Factors contributing to low attendance included elections were uncontested there were few controversial issues, said Wells. On June 11 Messengers re-elected Fred Luter Jr., pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, to a second term as president of the SBC without opposition. The most debated item of the annual meeting was a resolution regarding the Boy Scouts of America and their new policy to allow homosexual members, was overwhelmingly adopted.
In contrast, the last time Southern Baptists were in Houston for the 1993 annual meeting 17,768 messengers attended. Attendance for the 2012 annual meeting in New Orleans was 7,868.
Wells said the lower turnout was a 35 percent drop was short of his pre-convention guess of about 7,000 attendees. This year's 5,103 was just 151 more than the 2011 annual meeting in Phoenix, when 4,852 messengers gathered for the lowest-attended annual meeting in six decades.
As expected, Texas churches turned out in force for the meeting in their backyard with 1,026 messengers representing the largest number from any state.
Next year, with the convention headed northeast to Baltimore, Wells said he is reluctant to provide an estimate of 2014's attendance.
"It's going to be a presidential year," he said, "but we don't have a lot of churches (in the region)."
Beckie Gay (seated), wife of Jerry Gay, associational missionary of the North Pulaski Baptist Association, North Little Rock, was winner of the Southern Baptist Foundation "guess how much money is in the bottle" contest featured at their exhibit at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Houston. Beckie Gay won by guessing the amount closest to the $623.46 contained in the bottle (she guessed $623).
Editor's Note: Below is the amended version of the resolution on Boy Scouts approved June 12 by messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Houston.
ON THE CHANGE OF MEMBERSHIP POLICY OF THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
WHEREAS, For more than a century, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been a values-based boys organization designed to “prepare young people for a lifetime of character and leadership,” equipping them “to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law”; and
WHEREAS, The Scout Oath contains language that is consistent with belief in God and biblical precepts that serve as the basis for Christian
faith: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight”; and
WHEREAS, The leadership of the Boy Scouts throughout its history has restricted from membership and leadership those persons who would affect the group’s ability to advocate its viewpoints in regard to belief in God and His moral precepts; and
WHEREAS, In 1992, and again in 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted resolutions affirming the Boy Scouts in their stand that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations of the Scout Oath, encouraging the BSA “to maintain its historic commitments” (1992) and “to hold fast to its traditional ideals” (2000); and
WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the constitutional right to freedom of association allows a private organization, as part of its “expressive message,” to exclude a person from membership when “the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints” and that allowing homosexuals as adult leaders would interfere with that message (Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale); and
WHEREAS, In 2004, the Boy Scouts adopted a policy statement that said, in part, “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed”; and
WHEREAS, In 2012, an eleven-person committee appointed by the
National Council of the Boy Scouts completed a two-year study and reported its unanimous decision that the Boy Scouts retain the current policy as outlined above; and
WHEREAS, NBC News reported in breaking news on January 28, 2013, that the BSA executive leadership, in concert with certain members of the BSAboard of directors, was poised to change the Scouts’ historic policy at its February 4–5 board meeting the following week to allow avowed homosexuals into membership and leadership positions within the Boy Scouts of America; and
WHEREAS, During the week between when news broke of this proposed policy change and the February board meeting, the Boy Scouts received an outpouring of feedback from Scouts, Scouting families, sponsoring organizations, and the American public; and
WHEREAS, On February 6, 2013, the BSA board determined that, “due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a deliberate review of its membership policy”; and
WHEREAS, The National Council of the Boy Scouts voted on May 23,
2013, to approve new membership guidelines that state, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone”; and
WHEREAS, While those who embrace a biblical worldview are grateful that the leadership policy of the BSA remains unchanged, the executive leadership and certain members of the Boy Scouts board clearly signaled their desire to change both the membership and leadership policies of the BSA; and
WHEREAS, This decision of the BSA is viewed by many homosexual activists as merely the first step in a process that will fundamentally change the BSA, putting the Scouts at odds with a consistent biblical worldview on matters of human sexuality; and
WHEREAS, This decision has the potential to complicate basic understandings of male friendships, needlessly politicize human sexuality, and heighten sexual tensions within the Boy Scouts; and
WHEREAS, Many Southern Baptist churches sponsor Boy Scout troops and many Southern Baptists are involved in Scouting; and
WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message states that “Christians should oppose . . . all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography,” and Southern Baptists consistently have expressed their opposition to the normalization of homosexual behavior in American culture through more than a dozen resolutions over the past thirty years; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas, June 11–12, 2013, express our continued opposition to and disappointment in the decision of the Boy Scouts of
America to change its membership policy; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we express our gratitude for the thousands of individuals within the Scouting family and the culture at large who expressed their opposition to the BSA executive leadership’s intent to change its membership and leadership policies in regard to homosexuality, leading to the compromise recommendation it presented to the BSA National
Council; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we express our gratitude to each voting member of the National Council who voted in opposition to the policy change for membership; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we express our well-founded concern that the current executive leadership of the BSA, along with certain board members, may utilize this membership policy change as merely the first step toward future approval of homosexual leaders in the Scouts; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on the Boy Scouts to remove from executive and board leadership those individuals who, earlier this year, sought to change both the membership and leadership policy of the Scouts without seeking input from the full range of the Scouting family; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we affirm the right of all families and churches prayerfully to assess their continued relationship with the BSA, expressing our support for those churches and families that as a matter of conscience can no longer be part of the Scouting family; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage churches and families that remain in the Boy Scouts to seek to impact as many boys as possible with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ, to work toward the reversal of this new membership policy, and to advocate against any future change in leadership and membership policy that normalizes sexual conduct opposed to the biblical standard; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we declare our love in Christ for all young people regardless of their perceived sexual orientation, praying that
God will bring all youth into a saving knowledge of our Lord