SBC Annual Meeting Day 2
4:05 pm: During the open mic questions for the ERLC, a messenger asked if there was a way to control the future leaking of information (referring to Russell Moore and Phillip Bethancourt’s leaked letters and audio clips). The acting President of the ERLC, Daniel Patterson, said he has never leaked nor does he know who leaked any of the information.
3:48 pm: The motion was voted on and has been adopted, the vote was nearly unanimous.
3:39 pm: As messengers give their reasoning for the motion to be adopted, one messenger specifically asked the Executive Committee: “Is there an accusation that either the Executive Committee or the Credentials Committee is in possession of an allegation of sexual abuse that has not already been reported to law enforcement?”
Dr. Ronnie Floyd answered, “Thank you for your question. To our knowledge, no. There is none.”
3:35 pm: Speaking about the motion to allow an independent investigation into the SBC Executive Committee regarding mishandling of sexual abuse claims, Ronnie Floyd told the messengers, “I hear you. The Executive Committee respects the messengers. We need this deliberative process. We know that this will make our convention stronger.”
8:57 am: 2/3 of the messengers agree with Pastor Gaines and his motion will be debated at 3:30pm today.
8:46 am: Belle Aire Baptist Church’s senior pastor Grant Gaines asks for an investigation into the Executive Committee regarding mishandling sexual abuse claims. Gaines said, “These are not allegations we can sweep under the rug. These are allegations we must get to the bottom of.” Gaines let the messengers and President J.D. Greear know that he didn’t want his motion that was accepted yesterday to be referred to the SBC Executive Committee because it would be a conflict of interest. He said a committee that needs to be investigated cannot be in charge of investigating itself.
6:53 pm: Ed Litton, pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, has been named the next SBC President. Litton received 6,834 of the 13,131 votes cast, resulting in 52.04 percent of the vote. Mike Stone received 6,278 votes, falling short at 47.81 percent of the total vote.
6:30 pm: The messengers overwhelmingly passed Resolution 5: On Abuse and Pastoral Qualifications. This resolution states that anyone who committed sexual abuse is “permanently disqualified from holding the office of pastor…all affiliated churches apply this standard to all positions of church leadership.”
5:07 pm: A motion was made to remove Saddleback Church, which is one of the largest churches in the SBC and the church Rick Warren founded and pastors, because they recently ordained three women as pastors.
4:55 pm: The run-off vote took place for the SBC president between Mike Stone and Ed Litton. Votes are currently being counted.
4:50 pm: Results for the SBC’s new president were announced. 15,678 registered messengers voted with 14,300 messengering ballots of the for the office president. Al Mohler received 3,764 votes for 26.32%. Mike Stone received 5,216 votes for 36.48%. Ed Litton received 4,630 votes for 32.38%, and Randy Adams received 673 votes for 4.71%. The rules state that more than 50% is required for the election of officers, which means that there has to be a runoff to determine the new president.
2:15 pm: Four nominations for the new SBC president were officially announced. Albert Mohler, Ed Litton, Randy Adams, and Mike Stone were announced and then voted on. Votes are currently being counted.
J.D. Greear’s Presidential Address:
11:58 am: In the remaining hours of his presidency J.D. Greear gave his presidential address (4:30:00) boldly calling out the things he has witnessed throughout the last few years. Regarding is time as president Greear said, “it has been a joy, it has been a privilege, unspeakable honor full of blessing after blessing…I have cherished every single second of it.”
Sharing that ministry during the 2020 pandemic has been one of the most challenging he has ever had to endure. “During that time a lot of things also came to the surface in our church and in my own life, I might add, that were not pretty,” Greear said. Laughingly he told the packed room, “I told our people recently that they are going to emerge from lockdown as either a monk, a hunk, a chunk or a drunk, so they should choose wisely.”
“The lockdown also revealed some fault lines and fissures in our convention, to be clear. COVID did not create those divisions it just exposed them,” he said because, “with nothing to do than to sit on home and online, a lot of them came to the surface…I think it is quite an understatement to say it has given us serious questions to consider.”
Calling this convention maybe the most important of our generation he said, “I believe we are at a defining moment in our convention and a cross roads. In fact, if I could be so bold…the most important crossroads in our generation.”
“Our defining moment is about whether or not we will let the Gospel that our forefathers preserved for us define the identity and mission of our convention,” Greear said. “Three years ago when my good friend and mentor Ken nominated me to serve as president we agreed that no change was needed to Baptist doctrine.The Baptist faith and message remains a faithful representation of that faith. Of the Apostles that was delivered once and all for the saints.”
Speaking out of Matthew 23 he said, “Jesus warned that there is more than one way for a generation to lose the Gospel. The curse of liberalism is real. The curse of liberalism is a way of course, but there was another…leaven was the word that Jesus used. A leaven that Jesus warned about but also perhaps one even more deceptive than liberalism, he called it had the leaven of the Pharisees…I want to make clear, please hear me, I am not saying that anyone who disagrees with me on something is a Pharisees.”
“What does that look like today,” Greear asked and then defined, “Well, it happens when we take a Gospel nonessential, like a cultural or a stylistic preference. Or our application of wisdom in an area where the Bible does not give a direct command. Our our political calculus. And we give it divine weight. It happens when we make no distinction between essentials where that says the lord and derivative applications where liberty is more appropriate.”
“Jesus said the Pharisees focus on the more minute parts of the law while ignoring the weightier parts. They strained at a gnat, and swallowed a camel. What does that look like today? It probably looks like insisting on accountability in our lead her ship while allowing gossip, cynicism, and slander to go unchecked in ourselves,” his statement was followed by applause. “It might look like any institution that creates unnecessary obstacles for victims of sexual abuse to seek justice by hiding behind legal smoke screens or NDAs. I can assure you it happens when we care more about our reputation than the victims’ safety or when we defer to protection of the institution rather than the protection of the vulnerable for whom Jesus died.”
Greear continued saying, “It looks like a convention that polices itself rigorously on complementation issues but allows female abuse victims to be mistreated and maligned. It looks like an SBC that expends more lamenting decrying things like CRT than they have done lamenting the devastating consequences of the years of racial bigotry and racial discrimination [Applause] Let me state this clearly and for the record.”
“For something as important as to what justice in society looks like, we need robust, careful, Bibles open, on our knees discussions about it,” Greear said, then gave warning that, “Justice is a major theme in our Bible so of course…Satan, Angel of light is going to permit counterfeits to it. So more shaped by the Scriptures than we are by the world. The vast majority of Southern Baptists and all of your conventions leaders both black and white recognize that CRT is an ideology that arises out of a world view at odds with the Gospel. And it is clear, it is clear that as a convention we need to clarify and strengthen our position on it. But we should heed the council of our leaders of color who tell us that our denunciations of justice movements fall on deaf ears when we remain silent on the suffering of our neighbors.”
Greear made it clear that, “We must make certain that our zeal to clarify what we think about CRT is accompanied by a pledge to fight with them against all forms of discrimination. To make clear that we stand with our brothers and sisters of color in their suffering lamenting the pain of their past and pledging to work tirelessly for justice in the present.”
He explained that the Pharisee’s “had forgotten that they were to live out their worship in a way that made the Gospel accessible and attractive to outsiders. What does that look like today? It might look like us not considering how outsiders perceive our statements and resolutions. Hey, let’s be clear, we don’t ever bend the truth to please anybody. If we sought to please men, we would not be the servants of Christ.”
Messengers applauded when Greear told them that the world is “heartbroken over the damages of years of slavery have left in the African-American community. Why wouldn’t we want to go out of our way to affirm the validity of those questions even in places where we differ with their answers?”
They slandered him because he threatened them and clothed all of their slander in the garments of theological rectitude,” Greear said as he spoke about how the Pharisee’s treated Jesus.”They used concern over theological rectitude to cloak divisive self-promoting spirits. White-washed tombs. Sneaky clean on the outside, but dead man’s bones on the inside. I’m not saying this only to you, all of us. The slander, the distortion, the character assassinations and baseless accusations that many of our leader haves had to undergo is reprehensible.”
“The exaggerations and the lies and the mischaracterizations that many of our entity leaders have had to respond to this year is disgraceful. It makes us smell like death even when the theology is squeaky clean,” he said. “It is no wonder we have alienated whole segments of our convention and made them feel unwelcome. I hear all the time from next generation leaders as well as Latino and African-American brothers who watch these things and wonder why they would choose to be part of this convention when parts of it wreaks of dead men’s bones.”
“We are going to alienate not only our brothers and sisters of color, we will lose our own children also. What a tragedy,” Greear boldly said.”What a tragedy if we squander the Gospel bequeathed to us by our forefathers in the conservative resurgence through unwillingness to be a Gospel above all and a great commission people, what a tragedy if we withstood the leaven of liberalism only to suffocate under the leaven of Phariseeism.”
In an interview about his SBC presidency Greear said that “My biggest positive surprise is how unified rank and file Baptists are on the primacy of the great commission. You who took the time to come to Nashville…you want us to be busy with church planning, In my travels across the country, I have been overwhelmed by the unity of Baptists who just want to be a part of convention that is focused on doing whatever it takes to reach a new generation [for the gospel]. They are repulsed by the idea of sexual abuse happening in our churches and they are even more repulsed by the idea that anybody might cover it up to protect their reputation. I have been amazed at how unified Baptists across America in big cities and small towns are on these things.”
“The negative surprise, is how loud those are who would keep us divided on these things,” he said in the same interview. Who would have us remain more a cultural affinity group and an institution protector and a political voting block than a Gospel people.The loudness of their voices on social media have made me truly apprehensive going into some places afraid of what I was going find there.”
Greear clearly stated, “We are spending too much time ripping each other apart or listening to those who are. Brothers and sisters let’s just call it what it is, these things are demonic!…Every lie weakens our resolve in getting the Gospel to the nations. And every moment that we engage in a silly argument or spend time debunking untruths is a moment that we are not focused on the great commission.”
“Great commission Baptists, we are going to continue by God’s grace to do whatever it takes, they are welcome in our convention, but essential part of our future.” He told everyone to listen, “I made diversity a goal not because it is cool, woke, or trendy, it is because the largest growth we have seen in the SBC has been among black, Latino and Asian congregations.”
“We are not a perfect people, but our Gospel and our Bible that holds that Gospel, that is perfect. And if we keep these things at the center then eventually we are going to become the people that God has called us to be. We might be slow and dull and hard of hearts sometimes, the Gospel will get us there. The Gospel, the Gospel, the Gospel. The Gospel has got to be above all.”
During Greear’s closing of his address he said, “God has not called us primarily to save America politically, He has called us to make the Gospel known to all. Whenever the church gets in bed with politics the church gets pregnant and the offspring does not look like our Father in heaven. Friends we have been given the Gospel. The Gospel, that name under heaven which is the only name by which people can be saved and that is too important to let anything, anything, even something important like politics, get in the way. Who are we? We are great commission Baptists. We have all got our political leanings and we are passionate about them, but at our core we are not the party of the elephant or donkey, we are the people of the land.”
10:51 am: Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) shared that in a 2020 COVID-19 plagued year NAMB helped plant 588 new churches, 143 new affiliations, and 126 new campuses resulting in 857 new Southern Baptist congregations.
10:03 am: The CEO and president of the SBC Executive Committee, Ronnie Floyd, spoke to a report regarding diversity within SBC churches. Revealing that every year the SBC continues to see diverse growth and said currently 22.3 percent of the churches within the SBC are non-Anglo or ethnic minority congregations. In 1990 that number was only 8.4 percent.
9:30 am: Grace Baptist Church’s pastor in Cape Coral, Florida and Founders Ministries‘ President Tom Ascol motioned to rescinded resolution 9, and the the motion was accepted following a roar of applause. The resolution affirms limited beneficial aspects of critical race theory (CRT). Pastor Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas said that he would leave the SBC if resolution 9 was rescinded. Many other motions were accepted during the ‘Introduction of New Motions’, including multiple motions for deeper investigations into sexual abuse claims and the mishandling reported claims. One of those motions specifically mentioned allegations the leaked letters from the former The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Dr. Russell Moore. Two pastors made motions at the microphones accompanied by sexual abuse survivors. All motions regarding deeper investigations into sexual abuse allegations were accepted.
9:27 am: While praying over the new president of GuideStone Financial Resources, President J.D. Greear asked everyone at their seats to raise out their hands as a symbolic sign of laying hands on the new president. Humorously Greear instructed messengers to make sure they bend their arm a little bit while raised during the prayer because photographers from the New York Times are here reporting on the convention. Greear said “a group of Southern Baptists with their arms stretched like that [referring to Nazi Germany] is not a good visual.”
8:50 am: Following an approved motion for a call to prayer, SBC President J.D. Greear lead all the messengers in a time of prayer instead of recognizing past SBC presidents. Messengers prayed in small groups for the day’s upcoming meeting. Greear said may this be a meeting of prayer with a little business sprinkled in.
8:43 am: The SBC21, along with retired U.S. Army Chaplin Major General Doug Carver recognized those that have fought for the freedom that allows christians to freely proclaim the gospel throughout the United States. General Carver also recognized all the first responders that helped and served during the pandemic. The retired General boldly told the thousands of messengers in the room, “May we always remember were the spirit of the Lord is, there is free liberty.”
8:00 am: As the 2021 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC21) official starts, convention music director and The Summit Church’s worship leader Branden Williams set the tone by leading over 15,000 registered messengers in worship. The highly anticipated day will be filled with reports, resolutions, voting, motions, and end with the announcement of new officers including a new president.
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