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The SBC family has a lot to talk about in Dallas

May 31, 2018

If the past few months are any indication, messengers and guests will have a lot to consider and discuss at the upcoming annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) June 12-13 in Dallas.

Not all will be formal business brought to the floor of the convention, but as usual, there will be numerous resolutions and hall-talk to fill in the blanks.

The latest and most visible shake-up involves Paige Patterson, a stalwart of the conservative resurgence, who is being criticized for comments he made about spousal abuse nearly two decades ago, along with more recent comments about a young woman. Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is scheduled to preach the convention sermon and give the Evangelism Task Force report. (Read related story, page 2).

What was first considered the biggest wrinkle at this year’s annual meeting was the election of SBC president, with North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear, representing a new generational shift, versus Ken Hemphill, an administrator at North Greenville University in South Carolina and a former president of Southwestern Seminary, who is said to represent the “old guard” SBC, vying for the position.

Frank Page’s sudden resignation as president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee due to a “personal failing” leaves a vacancy in one of the top leadership roles in the convention, as does the pending exit of David Platt, president of the International Mission Board (IMB), who has asked IMB trustees to seek his replacement.

No sooner was the SBC Committee on Committees report announced that it was criticized as being too Anglo – and not a true representation of the growth of multi-ethnic congregations in the convention.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, continues to be criticized by conservatives for positions taken to support religious liberty, racial reconciliation and other issues.

What might seem to some like a shake-up of massive proportions in the SBC, in actuality, has been a part of its history for many years. The relative calm the convention has experienced in the aftermath of the conservative resurgence is more of an anomaly.

Politics and personalities aside, what I enjoy most about attending the annual meeting is seeing how the collective efforts of Southern Baptists seek to evangelize and make a difference through the gospel.

Having served at two different national entities and state conventions, I see folks at the annual meeting that I don’t see during the year, and it’s always great to catch up and find out what God has been doing in their lives and ministries.

While SBC messengers are there to conduct the business of the convention, I find the times of praise and worship to always be rich as Southern Baptists from across the U.S. and the globe joins their voices together.

It’s a joy to see our churches of every conceivable flavor and ethnic make-up, and our Baptist colleges and seminaries, agencies, state conventions and associations in action – using resources Southern Baptists have entrusted to them to make a difference in reaching the world for Jesus Christ.

If you are physically and financially able, don’t miss attending the meeting in Dallas for a day or two and take in the meeting and the sights. It’s one of the closest annual meetings to be held to Arkansas the past few years.

Tim Yarbrough is editor/executive director of the Arkansas Baptist News.

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