Ex-SBC presidents among GCR endorsers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Three former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention are among the latest endorsers of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force recommendations.

BAILEY SMITH

Bailey Smith, who served as president 1980-82 and now leads Bailey Smith Ministries in Atlanta, said in a June 10 statement on the GCRTF website, www.pray4gcr.org, that outgoing SBC President Johnny Hunt's leadership "is visionary and necessary. His heart is to see us use our money to bring the most people we can to Jesus Christ. This effort emphasizing the 'Great Commission' will be a great step in that direction."

Smith's full statement can be read at http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/06/dr-bailey-smith-on-gcr-this-effort-emphasizing-the-great-commission-will-be-a-great-step.

JIM HENRY

Jim Henry, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., and SBC president from 1994-96, acknowledged in a June 9 statement he had concerns about the "progress report" brought by the task force but said he believes the revised final report "contains recommendations that are needed and most of us can support."

"The biggest discussion seems to be that adoption and implementation of the report will diminish our Cooperative Program giving," Henry said. "It's been my joy and privilege as a pastor to be an enthusiastic supporter of our Cooperative Program. If I thought for one moment it would threaten this magnificent instrument of ministry, I could not and would not support it. To the contrary, I believe it will emphasize its value and more clearly define our current giving patterns.

"There arises defining moments in our personal lives, our churches, and our denomination. I believe we are at one of those crossroads," Henry said. "In the final analysis we must trust our process, our common goal of bringing the Gospel to the world, and each other."

Henry's full statement can be read at http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/06/jim-henry-pastor-emeritus-first-baptist-church-orlando-florida-a-red-sea-moment.

JAMES MERRITT

James Merritt, senior pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., and SBC president from 2000-02, in a June 8 statement expressed "complete, whole-hearted enthusiasm and conviction" for what he called "this bold and courageous report."

Merritt said the task force's recommendations are "mission motivated," "Kingdom minded," "Christ centered" and "Gospel focused."

"This entire report grows out of a singular desire to make our denomination more effective in carrying out the Great Commission, which is the raison d'être of not only our denomination, but every church and every follower of Jesus Christ," Merritt said. "This report rightly ignores traditional and self-imposed boundaries that have limited our corporate effectiveness, increased unnecessarily bureaucratic layers to our work, and hindered greatly synergistic evangelistic impact. It bravely calls for convention entities at both the state and national levels to raise their vision from the parochial to the eternal."

Merritt's full statement can be read at http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/06/james-merritt-senior-pastor-cross-pointe-church-duluth-ga-i-support-the-gcr-report-with-complete-whole-hearted-enthusiasm-and-conviction.

MIKE DAY

Mike Day, director of missions for Mid-South Baptist Association in Memphis, Tenn., said in a June 7 statement that the vote in Orlando on the recommendations "will -- at least -- define our direction and could -- at best -- determine our destiny as Southern Baptists."

"I believe approval and acceptance of these recommendations will enhance the ministry effectiveness and work of the Southern Baptist Convention," Day said. "More specifically, and from a more personal perspective, I believe approval and acceptance of the GCR recommendations can and will strengthen the work and ministry of local Baptist associations."

Day said the recommendations will clarify the mission of the local association, sharpen its focus, expand its base of cooperative participation and challenge and stretch "our commitments and loyalties."

"I support the recommendations of the Great Commission Task Force because I believe our beloved denomination needs to experience a challenging and stretching discovery process that prepares us for more effective and higher-impact ministry going forward," Day said. "Our associations of churches will be strengthened as we examine what we have been committed and loyal to over and against what we must be committed and loyal to for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of the nations."

Day's full statement can be read at http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/06/mike-day-director-of-missions-mid-south-baptist-association-memphis-tn-gcr-recommendations-will-strengthen-associational-ministry.

R. ALBERT MOHLER JR.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the task force, asked in a June 9 statement whether Southern Baptists would "face the future with boldness, eagerness, and faithfulness, or will we choose business as usual? In other words, the real question is whether Southern Baptists will face the future, or flinch."

"A great sense of historical importance looms as the 2010 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention fast approaches," Mohler said. "The messengers to the SBC meeting in Orlando will cast many important votes, but one exceeds all others in significance, and that is the vote on the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force."

June 15, the day the task force's report will be presented to convention messengers, "will go down as a turning point in this denomination's life and work," Mohler said.

"This is true, not only in light of the report and recommendations presented by the Task Force, but in light of the attitude and passions that will be revealed in the deliberation and vote," Mohler said. "The future of the Southern Baptist Convention will not rest on this vote alone, but who can calculate what it will mean as a watching world and a rising generation watch to see if we are serious about emboldened Great Commission faithfulness in the future?"

Mohler's full statement can be read at http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/06/dr-albert-mohler-president-and-joseph-emerson-brown-professor-of-christian-theology-a-moment-of-decision-will-southern-baptists-face-the-future-or-will-we-flinch.


Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.

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