Value all human life, Floyd says

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- The mass shooting in Orlando and ongoing racial tension should lead Americans to place a high value on all human life, Ronnie Floyd said June 13 in his final press conference as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, held his final press conference as president of the SBC on Monday, June 13. He discussed the future of the SBC, the recent mass shooting in Orlando, and a desire to see the convention continue toward an emphasis in evangelism.
Photo by Adam Covington
"This is a great time to remind everyone that each person in this world has been made in the image of God, and we need to value human life. What happened in Orlando is inexcusable and deplorable," said Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, regarding the massacre at a gay nightclub, where reportedly 50 people -- including the shooter -- lost their lives.

Southern Baptists "stand against any prejudice, any bigotry, anything that is wrong in relation to devaluing human life, regardless of what someone does or how someone chooses to live. We value people. That's who we are, and that's what we need to continue to be," Floyd said.

Floyd was in Ferguson, Mo., for the Crossover evangelistic effort a couple of days earlier, and he noted there were hundreds of people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds receiving help from two of the North American Mission Board's new medical units.

"Southern Baptists need to forward the message that the answer is in Jesus Christ and the church. Government does not have the answer, ultimately, to the racial crisis in America," Floyd said.

Within 25 years, there will be no majority race in America, he said, "so we better understand how to get along. We better understand that we've all been created in the image of God and we have value. To me it's a human dignity issue. We need to be concerned about human dignity from the womb to the tomb."

When Jesus lived on earth, Floyd said, "He related to all ethnicities and loved them all. He is the model."

Also in his varied remarks at the press conference, Floyd reiterated his belief that the greatest need in the United States today is the next great spiritual awakening.

"There is no question at all that this is our ultimate answer," Floyd said. "There is not a politician who will bring what needs to be done in this nation, ultimately.... The answer is in Jesus Christ and Him alone. America needs Christ. That's our need, and to me, this is the biggest issue of the hour."

Floyd previewed his presidential address, scheduled for the opening session of the SBC annual meeting June 14. The message he will deliver, he said, is one God put deeply on his heart during a recent 21-day period of fasting and prayer.

"Rolling right out of that presidential address, we will move into what we believe will be perhaps one of the most historic mornings in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention since 1845," Floyd said. "We have Dr. Jerry Young who is the president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the largest African American Baptist convention in the United States -- some 25,000 to 35,000 churches. He will participate on a panel with me along with nine other pastors."

Regarding the election for the next SBC president, Floyd said he regrets there are three candidates because he loves all three and doesn't want any of them to lose. He has prayed daily for nearly a year, he said, for God to raise up the next leader, and he hopes that person will carry on the message of awakening.

"If I had more time, I would prioritize ... evangelism, trying to return our denomination to a commitment to personal evangelism ... and to church evangelism," Floyd said. "Where is the vision to reach a town with the Gospel of Jesus Christ today?"

Also looking forward, Floyd said the convention must involve more laypeople.

"I'm deeply convicted of that, and it takes time to do that," he said. "... While we have some laypeople involved, we need to have thousands involved. The Conservative Resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention would have never happened without the laypeople from the churches stepping up, standing up, and attending Southern Baptist Conventions."

One of the points of progress Floyd cited is the Cooperative Program. He is "highly encouraged" by churches responding to the need for funding the Great Commission task. He also commended Southern Baptists for increases in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions.

"Even a carnal Baptist knows it's not right to bring home missionaries from across the world. Our laypeople have stepped up," Floyd said.

Erin Roach is a writer in Nashville.
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