COLUMBUS, Ohio—More than 5,400 messengers, 113 from Oklahoma, registered for the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting held in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, June 16-17.
The meeting’s theme was “Great Awakening: Clear Agreement, Visible Union, Extraordinary Prayer,” which was strongly emphasized by SBC President Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Springdale, Ark., Cross Church, and the rest of the SBC officers.
The meeting was punctuated with business, elections, and resolutions, as well as significant times of prayer, worship and preaching.
/// Floyd unopposed as SBC president
Floyd was reelected without opposition to a second term as SBC president during the Tuesday afternoon session, June 16.
Floyd was nominated by North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear, who said, “God’s hand has been upon Brother Ronnie. I believe he is the man God has raised up to lead us for another year.”
All other SBC officers for the coming year also were elected without opposition.
Kansas pastor Steve Dighton, senior pastoral adviser at Lenexa, Kan., Church. Dighton previously served as pastor at Piedmont, First and was a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Ada, First, when called to full-time ministry.
Elected as second vice president was Chad Keck, senior pastor of the Kettering, Ohio, First since December 2010.
John L. Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention since 2011, and former Baptist Messenger editor, was reelected to a 19th term as recording secretary, while Jim Wells, strategic partners team leader for the Missouri Baptist Convention, was reelected to a 14th term as registration secretary.
/// Resolutions on key issues
pull broad consensus
Messengers adopted nine resolutions—some on culturally divisive issues—with almost no opposition.
All the resolutions offered in the Tuesday afternoon session, June 16, 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. Resolutions also called for spiritual awakening and celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Cooperative Program.
“There are so many pressing issues morally and spiritually in our nation right now, it really didn’t take long to figure that out,” Steve Gaines, senior pastor of Cordova, Tenn., Bellevue, said at a news conference after the committee’s report. Gaines is serving as resolutions committee chairman. “We want to speak the truth, but we always want to do it in love and redemption. 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.”
/// Approved resolutions include:
• urged the Supreme Court in its decision this summer 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 SBC 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 during personal times and corporate worship.
• appealed to the North Korean government to respect human rights and urged the U.S. 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 90th 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.
/// Oklahomans featured in SBC program
Of the many SBC leadership positions and committee appointments, Oklahoma Baptists found themselves filling many important roles this year. They include Hance Dilbeck, senior pastor at Oklahoma City, Quail Springs, who served as SBC second vice president.
Felix Cabrera, lead pastor of Oklahoma City, Iglesia Bautista Central, and Alex Himaya, senior pastor of Tulsa, theChurch.at, served as members of the committee on committees.
Shane Hall, pastor of Del City, First Southern, served on the SBC executive committee. Heath Tucker, pastor of Sentinel, First served on the tellers committee. Tim Prock, pastor of Collinsville, First, served on the credentials committee.
During the Executive Committee report, a video featured the University of Oklahoma Baptist Student Union (BSU)/Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), with interviews of Max Barnett, former OU BSU director, and John Kelsey, current OU BCM director.
/// Other business
The 2015-16 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget was approved. The adopted budget was totaled $186.5 million.
Messengers voted to approve a name change for Golden Gate Seminary to Gateway Seminary. The vote was the first of two required to confirm the name change, with final approval to come at the 2016 SBC meeting. The change is part of a transition process to move the main campus of the seminary from Mill Valley, Calif., to Ontario, Calif.
Full ministry reports were presented by entities, including all six Southern Baptist seminaries, the Woman’s Missionary Union, the International Mission Board (IMB), the North American Mission Board (NAMB), LifeWay Christian Resources and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
During his report, new IMB president David Platt spoke about the newly adopted missionary requirements. Platt emphasized the basis of the new requirements were to get as many channels as possible to get as many people as possible on the mission field, while also adhering to standards set by the Baptist Faith and Message.
During the Executive Committee’s report, messengers honored former IMB president Tom Elliff, former pastor of Del City, First Southern, with a resolution of appreciation for his three-plus years of service as president of the mission board. Elliff retired in August 2014 and was honored for his lifetime of service in Southern Baptist missions and ministry.
Elliff and his wife, Jeannie, were unable to attend this year’s annual meeting. Messengers prayed for Jeannie, who is battling cancer.
The Wednesday afternoon session, June 17, featured The President’s Panel covering the topic “The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage: Preparing our Churches.” The panel was moderated by Floyd, and featured panelists Russell Moore, ERLC president; Rosario Butterfield, writer, speaker, educator and pastor’s wife; R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Seminary; Ryan Blackwell, senior pastor of San Francisco, Calif., First; and Matt Carter, senior pastor of Austin, Texas, Stone.
The 2016 SBC meeting will be held in St. Louis, Mo., June 14-15.