Diversity expands among SBC boards, committees

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) -- Diversity among Southern Baptists was conveyed via two key committee reports approved at the SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala., today (June 12).

"The conversation about diversity is starting to yield a culture of diversity," said Bucky Kennedy, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention's Committee on Nominations during the morning session of the SBC annual meeting June 12.
Photo by Lindy Lynch
"The conversation about diversity is starting to yield a culture of diversity," said Bucky Kennedy, chairman of the SBC's Committee on Nominations, which recommends the trustees for the SBC's entities and members of its standing committees, including the newly repurposed Credentials Committee to make inquiries and recommendations for action regarding church departures from Southern Baptist beliefs regarding such issues as sexual abuse that call a church's standing into question.

"What I experienced through working with this committee," said Kennedy, an evangelist from Gainesville, Ga., "is what I believe every Southern Baptist really wants: an opportunity to come together, to work together for a cause bigger than any Southern Baptist church or church member -- the cause of Christ in reaching every tongue and every tribe."

Sky Pratt, chairman of this year's Committee on Committees, which nominated members of the coming year's 68-member Committee on Nominations, noted that "a commitment to biblical authority is necessary to preserve the confessional identity of our institutions.

"Likewise, a commitment to personal holiness is necessary to preserve the moral character of our institutions," Pratt, executive pastor-mobilization at Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Bogart, Ga., continued.

"And if our institutions are to serve well the diverse congregations that are generously underwriting them through the Cooperative Program, they must also be governed by trustee boards that resemble the beauty of heaven."

Messengers approved 150-plus new or renominated trustees and committee members among nearly 600 who serve in the convention, declining a motion for a substitute to one of the Credentials Committee nominees, in votes taken by raising their printed ballots.

Kennedy reported that 32 percent of the new trustees and committee members are female or non-Caucasian. Their churches averaged 7.25 percent in giving through the Cooperative Program for Southern Baptist missions and ministries in their states and across the nation and world.

And for the first time, International Mission Board trustees were elected from eight conventions -- Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Iowa, Wyoming, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Utah-Idaho and the Dakotas -- under newly expanded representation from smaller-membership areas.

The Committee on Nominations for 2020, meanwhile, will be 62 percent female or non-Caucasian, Pratt reported to messengers, describing it as "truly historic." By gender, the committee will have 41 men and 27 women.

The average Cooperative Program giving is just under 6 percent by the churches of the new Committee on Nominations members, Pratt said. The average age is 46, with a range of 22-81; the average size of their churches is 687, ranging from 15 to 6,500.

The Committee on Nominations report included seven of the nine members of the new Credentials Committee.

Three of the nominations originated with the Executive Committee, in accordance with the SBC bylaw change that created the new standing committee: Linda Cooper of Bowling Green, Ky.; Stacey Bramlett of Collierville, Tenn.; and Mike Lawson of Sherman, Texas.

The four members nominated directly by the Committee on Nominations were Jimmy Draper of Euless, Texas; Cheryl Rice of Clearwater, Fla.; Greg Fields of Las Vegas; and Roger Spradlin of Bakersfield, Calif.

The final two members forming the Credentials Committee, according to the new SBC bylaw passed by messengers June 11, are the Executive Committee's chairman, Mike Stone of Blackshear, Ga., and Kathy Litton, the SBC's newly elected registration secretary from Saraland, Ala.

Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press.
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