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SBC president names task force to study convention name change

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright has announced the appointment of a presidential task force to study the prospect of changing the 166-year-old convention’s name.

Wright, who was re-elected to a second one-year term during the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix in June, said he believes the study will be helpful for two main reasons.

“First, the convention’s name is so regional,” he said. “With our focus on church planting, it is challenging in many parts of the country to lead churches to want to be part of a convention with such a regional name. Second, a name change could position us to maximize our effectiveness in reaching North America for Jesus Christ in the 21st Century.”

Wright announced the task force during the opening session of the SBC Executive Committee’s Sept. 19-20 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Wright said Jimmy Draper, retired president of LifeWay Christian Resources and a former SBC president, has agreed to serve as chairman of the task force. Wright will serve as an ex officio member.

The Monday evening announcement led some Executive Committee members to express concern over the possibility of a name change and of the task force being asked to serve without convention approval. Some also said the issue could be divisive. Wright responded by saying any proposed name change must be approved by messengers.

Executive Committee member Darrell P. Orman, pastor of Stuart, Fla., First, made a motion that convention attorneys study the issue for one year “before we take any action” on possibly changing the name. That motion failed, 39-20.

Motions to study a name change have been presented to the convention on numerous occasions—for example, 1965, 1974, 1983, 1989, 1990 and 1998. More recently, the convention was asked in its 1999 annual session in Atlanta to conduct a “straw poll” to consider a name change. The “straw poll” was defeated on a floor vote. A motion at the 2004 annual meeting in Indianapolis to authorize the SBC president to appoint a committee to study a name change was defeated on a ballot vote (44.6 percent yes; 55.4 percent no).

Wright said he believes Southern Baptists would benefit from another look at the question, noting, “I am going to ask this task force to consider four questions: 1) Is it a good idea, that is, is there value in considering a name change? 2) If so, what would be a good name to suggest? 3) What would be the potential legal ramifications of a name change? 4) What would be the potential financial implications?”

Wright, pastor of Marietta, Ga., Johnson Ferry, emphasized the task force’s role is to advise him on the questions he has given them to consider.

“Obviously, this is not an official committee empowered by a vote of messengers to an SBC annual meeting,” Wright said. “It is a task force I am asking to advise me as president on whether this is a matter we should bring forward for convention action.”

Wright said he is hoping the task force will be able to provide an interim report that he can share with the SBC Executive Committee during its Feb. 20-21 meeting, with the possibility of a final report in time for the SBC annual meeting June 19-20, 2012, in New Orleans.

Any proposed name change, as well as other legal implications involved in a name change, would have to be approved by a majority of messengers at two consecutive SBC annual meetings, according to the convention’s constitution.

Because the task force is not an official committee of the convention, its members have agreed to pay their own expenses, Wright said.

The other members of the task force are:

• Michael Allen, senior pastor of Uptown Church in Chicago.

• Marshall Blaylock, pastor of Charleston, S.C., First.

• David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

• Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board.

• Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board.

• Ken Fentress, senior pastor of Rockwell, Md., Montrose.

• Micah Fries, senior pastor of Frederick Boulevard Church in St. Joseph, Mo.

• Aaron Harvie, lead pastor of Philadelphia, Pa., Riverside Community.

• Susie Hawkins, speaker, Bible study teacher and missions volunteer from Dallas.

• Fred Hewitt, executive director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention.

• Cathy Horner, Bible teacher and pastor’s wife from Raleigh, N.C., Providence.

• Benjamin Jo, pastor of Hana Korean Church in Las Vegas.

• R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

• Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

• Bob Sena, retired director of Hispanic resource development and equipping in the North American Mission Board’s church planting group.

• Roger Spradlin, co-pastor of Valley Church in Bakersfield, Calif., and chairman of the SBC Executive Committee.

• John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention.

• Jay Wolf, senior pastor of Montgomery, Ala., First.

Wright said he is eager for Southern Baptists to participate in the discussion about a possible name change.

“I want the task force to have the benefit of the best thoughts and ideas individual Southern Baptists have about a potential new name for the convention,” Wright said. “In that regard, I am having my web team create a place where Southern Baptists can give their input about what a possible new name might be.” That website at Pray4SBC.com went live Sept. 20.

“It also is imperative that Southern Baptists participate in this process by prayer,” Wright said. “The members of the task force will need wisdom and discernment as they pursue this inquiry. We will need God’s guidance as we consider whether to move forward with a proposed name change.”

Staff

Author: Staff

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  • Lucille Abbott

    This is highly disappointing to me. Southern Baptist identifies who we are. There is a long legacy and much history. It would be like one of my children changing his last name!

  • When I was in seminary, I remember this being discussed quite frequently. It doesn’t really make sense to have “southern” in the SBC name… then again, some thing that “baptist” is probably too restrictive as well. To me, the reason for the name change means a lot. If it’s just to “trick” people in not having a negative connotation with the SBC name, then it’s pointless. But if it’s to have a more “open” name, one that makes sense globally, then I can appreciate that.

    If you want to have a little fun with the name change, head on over to my site: http://sbctaskforce.com/ where, we’re taking “tongue-in-cheek” (and real) name suggestions. Good for a chuckle on a Tuesday evening :).

  • Danny Waldo

    Its been Southern Baptist for 166 years. Why spend time and effort and probably money on this instead of trying to figure out how we could reach more people for Christ? God is the same yesterday today and forever why not us as Southern Baptist? I am proud to be a Southern Baptist!!! And what really ticks me off about this it sounds like our government putting a task force together to think about changing our name. I just think there is a lot more out there that we need to worry about than this.

    Thanks Danny Waldo
    580-252-7865

  • Monte T. Brown

    Changing the name will not save more souls. Just leave it alone!

  • LARRY HOBBS

    WE HAVE JUST GONE THROUGH THIS ISSUE OF NAMING OUR NEW CAMPUS CROSSWAY. IT CAUSED SO MUCH CONCERN WITH THE OLDER PEOPLE. WE MUST DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES TO REACH MORE PEOPLE FOR JESUS. I ADMIRE YOU FOR HAVING THE COURAGE TO BRING THIS UP BECAUSE IT WILL RESISTED BY MANY OF THE PEOPLE THAT DO NOT REALIZE THAT OUR CULTURE HAS CHANGED.
    WE HAVE ENCOURAGED OUR FRIENDS AT CHURCH TO READ “WHO STOLE MY CHURCH” BY GORDON MACDONALD.
    I APPRECIATE YOU FOR THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX IN LEADING OUR DENOMINATION.

  • I would like to know what the name was 167 years ago? I’m sure this is not just a coincidence it was during the Civil War.

  • Treva Hill

    Matt. 28:19-20 does not reference committees. This has been voted down numerous times.
    Stop wasting time and focus on ETERNAL. Go……Tell….
    Review our PURPOSE!

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