FLOYD: Pastors & the church in American politics today
Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- In the last four weeks, Jeana and I have been in Washington, D.C., three times. Each time I go to America's capital city, I am captivated by it. As I jog around the National Mall, I become even more burdened for our nation and our leaders. There is always something special about making my way through the entire terrain from the Supreme Court to the United States Capitol, the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial.
As I returned from the National Day of Prayer in Washington, D.C., I was not just reflecting, but anticipating our Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in June. When we meet in the closing session of the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday afternoon, June 15, in St. Louis, our Order of Business Committee has allocated time for a special panel on investing in the lives and ministries of our messengers.
Navigating through these turbulent times
Just as we did last year, we are going to address one of the challenging areas in life today. Last year, we provided "The President's Panel: The Supreme Court and Same Sex Marriage: Preparing Our Churches." [See video of last year's panel.] It was well received and appreciated.
Early last fall, when our Order of Business Committee began discussing possible topics, our chosen panel for this year seemed to be extremely relevant and interesting. Even though we have wrestled with fulfilling this vision, I think it is important for us to assist our pastors and laypersons while we are gathered. The decision we made last fall has now proven to be not only relevant and interesting, but extremely challenging to accomplish.
Please know, no one but God has the corner on this subject in American life. Regardless of your political party or your personal feelings concerning this subject, we need to converse and navigate together through these turbulent times.
Pastors, churches and politics
"Pastors and the Church in American Politics Today" is the subject of our presidential panel scheduled to take place at 2:45 p.m. on June 15. These 25 minutes will be just one segment of this incredible afternoon session.
Introducing the members of our panel
There is a real passion to hear from local church pastors about this challenging subject. It is local church pastors who, anchored in the Word of God, have to navigate these matters in their church and community.
Local church pastors identify with other local church pastors.
We are a convention of local churches. These local churches have entrusted the leadership of their churches to God-called pastors.
Since so many of our pastors and churches are uncertain about this subject, with many never even addressing it, we believe that beyond five proven local church pastors, we need a respected and gifted attorney to help us address some matters.
Let me introduce the five local church pastors and attorney who will serve on our panel, in alphabetical order:
Hance Dilbeck is the senior pastor of the Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Okla. Hance is the president of the Oklahoma Baptist Convention, our immediate past second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and one of the most respected pastors and leaders in Oklahoma. His church is a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Jack Graham is the senior pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. In the years of 2003 and 2004, Jack served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He pastors one of the most incredible churches in the world and is widely respected both nationally and internationally. Last fall, Jack led and moderated the North Texas Presidential Forum, which included many presidential candidates from our current election cycle.
David McKinley is the pastor of the Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga. He has also pastored in Florida, as well as served alongside Jack Graham in both Florida and Texas. David has invested in churches in different states with different perspectives. He is a gracious and godly pastor to people.
Mat Staver is the founder and president of the Liberty Counsel in Orlando, Fla. The Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and the family. He is the former vice president of Liberty University and dean and professor of law at Liberty University School of Law. He has argued landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court; written over 230 legal opinions; authored eight scholarly law review publications, 10 books and hundreds of articles. Mat is a member of the First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla.
A.B. Vines is the senior pastor of the New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif., which is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-generational church. He has also served as one of the past presidents of the African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention and currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Southeastern Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching.
K. Marshall Williams is the senior pastor of the Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa. He is also the current president of the African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has pastored the same church for 32 years, and has preached at our Southern Baptist Convention the past two years. He is also the director of Community Outreach for the Germantown Academy of Fort Washington, Pa., and a founding trustee of the Community Partnership School in North Philadelphia. He is a powerful prayer warrior and a leader of leaders.
As I facilitate this discussion through these turbulent waters, may God lead us to His will and to experience His glory.
I Am Convinced
I am convinced when we complete this discussion on June 15, we will all leave with one strong conviction: Our help comes from the Lord. Read and pray this (Psalm 121:1-8) for your life, family, church, America and our future together.
"I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
Indeed, the Protector of Israel
does not slumber or sleep.
The LORD protects you;
the LORD is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day
or the moon by night.
The LORD will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
The LORD will protect your coming and going
both now and forever."