ANAHEIM, Calif.—On June 14-15, more than 8,100 messengers to the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting gathered in Anaheim, Calif., for a convention meeting that was called “historic, clarifying and pivotal.”
52 IMB Missionaries Sent at SBC meeting
During the opening session on Tuesday, at the Anaheim Convention Center, an International Mission Board (IMB) Sending Celebration was observed.
There were 52 missionaries recognized during the celebration. IMB missionaries were commissioned to areas across the globe including North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, Europe and the Pacific Rim.
“The world’s greatest problem is lostness,” said Paul Chitwood, IMB president. “God has moved us to respond to it with the Gospel.”
Oklahoma Baptists, who are well-known for being a strong missionary sending state in the SBC, expressed gratitude over social media for the Lord after the sending service.
“The IMB sending celebration, where new missionaries are introduced and prayed for, is always an incredibly meaningful and moving moment,” said Todd Fisher, executive director-treasurer for Oklahoma Baptists. “I agree with IMB President Paul Chitwood. ‘This is why we (Southern Baptists) came together, and this is why we must stay together.’”
“The IMB Sending Celebration is always one of my favorite parts of the SBC (Annual Meeting)!” Pastor Brad Graves of Ada, First, said.
“This (missionary sending service) is why I’m here!” said Rusty McMullen, pastor of McAlester, First. “I will stand with these brothers and sisters who are the epitome of faithful sacrifice.”
Sexual Abuse Task Force recommendations ‘overwhelmingly’ approved
Southern Baptists responded with an overwhelming majority in favor of adopting the two recommendations presented by the Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF) presented June 14 at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting.
The task force recommended the formation of an Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF) to be appointed by newly-elected SBC President Bart Barber and the development of a “Ministry Check” website to share “properly vetted information.”
The “Ministry Check” website, which was the focus of the second recommendation, will be “established and maintained by an independent contractor, with the ARITF to oversee and report back to the Convention on feasibility, effectiveness and costs.”
Names listed on the website will be people who have been “credibly accused,” according to the recommendation.
In a press conference following the vote with the SATF, Task Force Chairman Bruce Frank stated his hope that Southern Baptist churches will continue in ministering to the vulnerable (see SATF story by Scott Barkley for more information).
Oklahoma Baptists at the SBC
Approximately 300 messengers from Oklahoma Baptist churches, as well as many other Oklahoma guests, took part in the SBC Meeting. Oklahomans featured on the program included Guidestone President Hance Dilbeck; Pastor Mike Keahbone of Lawton, First; and Pastor Jeremy Freeman of Newcastle, First.
Keahbone, who serves on the SBC Executive Committee and also served on the SBC Resolutions Committee, led in a time of prayer during the meeting. He also presented Resolution 4, “On Religious Liberty, Forced Conversion, and the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report,” which was approved. For a full list of resolutions, visit baptistpress.com. Freeman chaired the Committee on Committees and presented a report on June 14.
Oklahomans participated in various events connected to the 2022 SBC meeting, including a Women’s Ministry event, seminary luncheons, SBC entity events, as well as an Oklahoma Fellowship event on Tuesday evening hosted by Oklahoma Baptist University, WatersEdge and Oklahoma Baptists.
Barber elected president; other officers elected
Texas pastor Bart Barber won a run-off election for president of the SBC on June 14. Out of 5,587 votes cast, Barber received 3,401 (60.87 percent) and Florida pastor Tom Ascol received 2,172 votes (38.88 percent). Fourteen ballots were disallowed.
A run-off election is required when a candidate does not garner 50 percent of the vote. In the first election, Barber received 3,258 (47.58 percent) of the 6,847 ballots cast.
Matt Henslee, pastor of Mayhill, N.M., Mayhill and 2022 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference president, nominated Barber.
Henslee described Barber as a man who can unite, build up and “lead us through the battleground of our disagreements, to the common ground of our cooperation so that we can tell the world about the even ground at the foot of the cross.”
Barber, 52, has served as pastor of Farmersville, Texas, First since 1999 as well as in a number of roles in the SBC. He served as chairman of the 2022 SBC Resolutions Committee and was a member of that committee in 2021.
With 1,711 votes (50.13 percent), Victor Chayasirisobhon, pastor of Anaheim, Calif., First Southern, was elected first vice president of the SBC. Alex Sands, senior pastor and planter of Simpsonville, S.C., Kingdom Life, was elected SBC second vice president in a runoff against Michigan pastor Rodolfo Diaz-Pons. Sands received 2,121 votes (59.71 percent).
Nathan Finn, provost at North Greenville University, was elected SBC Recording Secretary, a position that has not changed hands in 25 years. John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention and former editor of the Baptist Messenger, has been elected to the position unopposed 22 of the last 25 years. He opted not to seek reelection in 2022.
Sermons, convention reports & other business
The preaching throughout the convention focused on the theme of “Jesus at The Center of it All.” Convention sermons were offered by Ed Litton and Pastor Juan Sanchez of Austin, Texas, High Point.
On Wednesday, Pastor Tony Evans presented an initiative designed to promote racial reconciliation, speaking about the “Unify Project” initiative, and developing a “Kingdom Race Mindset.” The Unify Project is an innovative movement of Southern Baptist churches working toward racial unity together, so the world will encounter the hope of Christ.
Throughout the meeting, various SBC entities delivered reports, including the IMB, the North American Mission Board, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), all six SBC seminaries, and the Woman Missionary Union. All SBC committees, including the SBC Executive Committee, the Committee on Nominations delivered reports.
A number of motions from the floor were presented by messengers. A motion to abolish the ERLC was voted upon and failed. The resolutions committee presented eight resolutions in all, including on the topics of “On Lament and Repentance for Sexual Abuse,” “On Anticipation of A Historic Moment in the Pro-Life Movement,” “On Religious Liberty, Forced Conversion, and The Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report,” and “On the Mission Field in Rural America,” the last two resolutions being presented by Oklahoma Baptist Pastors Mike Keahbone and Luke Holmes, respectively.
As the 2022 SBC meeting wrapped up, Todd Fisher added, “On the heels of what promised to be a challenging and pivotal gathering for Southern Baptists at the Annual Meeting in California, I am walking away from this convention meeting both encouraged and hopeful.”
For more information or details on convention business, visit sbc.net. The 2023 meeting of the SBC is set for June 13-14, 2023 in New Orleans, La.