St. Louis, Mo.—Messengers to the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention, in addition to repudiating display of the Confederate battle flag, approved 11 other resolutions on a variety of culture and ministry concerns.
Messengers voted on the proposals over both days of the annual meeting, adopting resolutions that expressed compassion for those devastated by the Orlando mass shooting, urged consistent evangelism of unbelievers and encouraged care for refugees. They also passed measures that included calling for the federal government not to discriminate against people who support only the biblical, traditional view of marriage and opposing an effort to require women to register for the military draft.
For Stephen Rummage, chairman of the Resolutions Committee, the call for Southern Baptists to evangelize was central to the 10-member panel’s deliberations in presenting the 12 measures to messengers.
The resolution on evangelism “might just seem like a standard resolution for an evangelical body such as Southern Baptists to pass,” he said, “but really that is at the heart of everything that we talked about, including what we had to say about the Confederate flag. Everything that we do should have as its end and as its goal reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Rummage, senior pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., and SBC ethics leader Russell Moore both thought it helpful that messengers strengthened the original Confederate flag resolution.
Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told reporters, “I think it lends to an even stronger witness that the process happened the way that it did.”
Those outside the denomination saw “a Southern Baptist Convention that came in and affirmed its Resolutions Committee (and) said, ‘Thank you for bringing this resolution of unity to us, and we want to make sure that we’re as clear as we can be about standing in solidarity with one another,'” Moore said.
In addition to the Confederate flag measure, the other 11 resolutions:
– affirmed Southern Baptists’ commitment to biblical sexuality and urged the protection of religious free exercise. Kelvin Cochran, who was fired as Atlanta’s fire chief after writing in a book that homosexual behavior is immoral, presented the resolution to the convention.
– called for prayer for and pledged support to those affected by the June 12 killings in Orlando.
– encouraged faithful proclamation of the gospel by churches and intentional evangelism by individual Southern Baptists locally, nationally and globally.
– declared “unrelenting opposition” to efforts by military leaders and the Obama administration “to increase the likelihood that women will be placed in harm’s way” along with voicing support for service members and their families.
– called on the government to enact strict security in screening refugees and for Southern Baptists to compassionately minister to them.
– urged participation in voting and prayer for God to provide “spiritual, moral, ethical, and cultural renewal.”
– encouraged churches to consider increasing ministries to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and their caregivers.
– called for pastors to support freedom of the press and journalists to practice that freedom responsibly.
– affirmed “In God We Trust” as the national motto and encouraged its public display.
– supported Israel’s right to exist as a free state and encouraged renewed prayer for peace in and salvation of Israel.
– expressed gratitude to Southern Baptists in the St. Louis area and others who helped with this year’s meeting. (BP)