September 16, 2014
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Wright: Great Commission Baptists is 'opportunity to describe who we are'
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- In a new video posted to, Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright explains his perspective on the Great Commission Baptists name option to be presented at the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans. "I hope this video today will be just another way of helping you have a greater understanding of how God led in this process," Wright said in the video recorded at the SBC Building in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 21, the day after the task force he appointed to study a name change delivered its report to the Executive Committee.
"If that regional name has been a hindrance, we were just studying how could that barrier be removed so that more people could come into the Kingdom of Christ."
-- Bryant Wright
Wright said the task force had seen God move in a unifying way in their midst as well as when they reported to the Executive Committee. "All along it has been our hope that God would guide us in coming to a decision that would give a greater ability and opportunity for Southern Baptist Christians to reach that community where God has planted them," Wright said. "And if that regional name has been a hindrance, we were just studying how could that barrier be removed so that more people could come into the Kingdom of Christ, come to faith in Christ by a ministry that really focuses on the Great Commission," he said. Wright said he could think of no greater descriptor than Great Commission Baptists to tell who the convention is and what their mission is while maintaining the legal name of the Southern Baptist Convention. The task force started out exploring a legal name change, he said, but they began to have a "great unity" that altering the legal name was not the best approach. "Think about a couple of scenarios. First of all, our founding in 1845 was actually approved and the charter was given by the state legislature of the state of Georgia," Wright said. "Because of that, we have been grandfathered in when it comes to nonprofit regulations and what is asked for in nonprofit entities or organizations." All sorts of legal challenges could stem from a legal name change, he said. Also, what has joined Southern Baptists together has been voluntary cooperation through the years. "Say the Southern Baptist Convention in June in New Orleans and then a second year -- as it would be required to change the legal name, a second year -- say it was overwhelmingly approved by the Southern Baptist Convention," Wright said in the 12-minute video. "Because of the autonomy of our entities, of our state conventions, of our local churches, you could have 10 states that decide to adopt that new legal name of the Southern Baptist Convention, whatever it may be. You could have 20-something states that decide they're going to stay Southern Baptist," he said. "The potential for division, the potential for legal issues, the potential for problems with wills and gifts that have been designated to the Southern Baptist Convention, it just goes on and on and on. We just felt like that would not be healthy for the convention, nor would it be wise."
'Global Baptist' led the top 20 name suggestions
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The task force that studied changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention received 586 distinct name suggestions, with "Global Baptist Convention" leading the way and "Great Commission Baptist Convention" -- similar to the informal name that was chosen -- ranking in the Top 5, an analysis shows.
Past opponent applauds 'brilliant' compromise
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee approved the "Great Commission Baptists" recommendation by the name change task force, and it did so with the vocal backing of a member who was a staunch opponent in September.
Task force: Keep legal SBC name, but adopt informal name, 'Great Commission Baptists'
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The task force appointed to study a possible name change of the Southern Baptist Convention is recommending the convention maintain its legal name but adopt an informal, non-legal name for those who want to use it: "Great Commission Baptists."
The report Monday (Feb. 20) ended weeks of speculation by Southern Baptists and fellow evangelicals as to what the task force would do. The convention was formed in 1845, and a name change was first proposed in 1903, although one was not adopted then, or since. The task force was appointed by Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright. "This is an issue that just won't die," task force chairman Jimmy Draper said in presenting the task force's recommendation to the Executive Committee, which approved the recommendation Tuesday, sending it to SBC messengers for a vote at the June annual meeting in New Orleans. With about 80 Executive Committee members present, only about six members voted in opposition. The name "Southern," Draper said, is a barrier to the Gospel in some regions of the country. The recommendation would mean that the legal name of the convention would remain "Southern Baptist Convention" and could be used by any church which wishes to use it. But other SBC churches could call themselves "Great Commission Baptists" if they wish. Draper said the new term would be a "descriptor." "We believe that the equity that we have in the name Southern Baptist Convention is valuable," Draper said during the task force's recommendation. "It is a strong name that identifies who we are in theology, morality and ethics, compassion, ministry and mission in the world. It is a name that is recognized globally in these areas." Draper continued: "We also recognize the need that some may have to use a name that is not associated with a national region as indicated by the word 'Southern.' We want to do everything we can to encourage those who do feel a name change would be beneficial without recommending a legal name change for the convention. We believe we have found a way to do that." The goal from the beginning, Draper said, "was to consider the removal of any barrier to the effective proclamation of the Gospel and reaching people for Christ."
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Jimmy Draper, chairman of the task force that studied the question of changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention, reports to the SBC Executive Committee during its Monday night (Feb. 20) meeting. The task force was named by SBC President Bryant Wright last September.
Fentress & Patterson: Descriptor would benefit African Americans, ethnic groups, non-Southerners
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The following remarks by Maryland pastor Ken Fentress and seminary president Paige Patterson were part of the Feb. 20 report to the SBC Executive Committee by a task force that studied the possibility of a name change of the Southern Baptist Convention and proposed the option of Southern Baptists also calling themselves "Great Commission Baptists."
Page warns of serving with wrong motives
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Drawing from the example of the older brother in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, Frank Page advised Southern Baptists to examine their motives as they consider altering the name by which they're known.
SBC name change task force holds inaugural meeting
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- The task force appointed to study the prospect of changing the Southern Baptist Convention's name held its first meeting Oct. 26 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Convention President Bryant Wright announced the 20-member task force during the opening session of the SBC Executive Committee's Sept. 19-20 meeting in Nashville, Tenn. The announcement prompted a lively debate across the convention about the pros and cons of making such a change.
Jimmy Draper
The 16 task force members attending the Oct. 26 meeting spent "a great deal" of time in prayer, aware of the far-reaching implications a name change would have, task force chairman Jimmy Draper said in an Oct. 26 statement. "We spent a great deal of time in prayer, believing that we need God's guidance and divine wisdom as we seek to serve Southern Baptists in this consideration," Draper said. "We received a review of the history of the SBC name issue and are aware of the weighty matters that have been brought to light by previous studies and considerations." The committee's work centers on whether the Southern Baptist mission would be advanced by a name change, Draper added. "We are driven by only one great question -- how can Southern Baptists be most faithful in reaching people for Jesus. Our concern is not public relations, politics, positioning or personal agendas," Draper said. "We must ask ourselves constantly if there is anything that would help us to reach more people, plant more churches, and penetrate lostness here in the United States and around the world as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission." Draper's statement said he appreciated "the responsible quality" of the group's first discussion and affirmed the need for input from both rank-and-file Southern Baptists and those in positions of leadership. He said he would be contacting leaders for their input and that others can interact with the task force through a website, Name change suggestions can be entered in a box that accepts up to 50 characters, while the form for submitting comments has been expanded beyond the 140-character limit originally in place. LifeWay Christian Resources also has been asked to research the potential impact of a name change among unchurched people, Draper said. The task force understands its charge is limited to reporting back to Wright and that no one believed the word "Baptist" should be removed from the name, Draper added. "We also want to let Southern Baptists know that we do understand our task. We are a body appointed by the SBC president, and to him we will submit our report....
SBC president announces task force to study possible convention name change
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright has announced the appointment of a presidential task force to study the prospect of changing the 166-year-old convention's name. Wright, who was re-elected to a second one-year term during the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix this past June, said he believes the study will be helpful for two main reasons.
SBC name change study sparks lively debate
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The announcement from Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright of a presidential task force to study the prospect of changing the convention's name sparked a lively debate during the SBC Executive Committee meeting Sept. 19 in Nashville, Tenn. Executive Committee member Darrell P. Orman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Stuart, Fla., offered a motion that convention attorneys study the issue for one year "before we take any action" on possibly changing the name. The motion later failed on a 39-20 vote. "Every man here wants to do something significant in his life for Christ and His Kingdom," Orman said. "A name change could be a future necessity for our convention but it should start from the bottom up, not the top down." The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force's 2010 proposals for dramatically reorganizing the Southern Baptist Convention and reallocating missions dollars had caused a "tug of war" and left "a lot of conflicted feelings ... across our nation," Orman said. "We don't need another wedge issue at this time." An Executive Committee member from Ohio echoed Orman's concerns. "If you get outside of Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, GCR is still very, very divisive among Southern Baptists," said Charles Chambers, a layman from Toledo, Ohio. "Don't divide us again." Another Executive Committee member suggested a better approach would be to let messengers to the SBC annual meeting bring up the subject themselves. "I would counsel us to be very thoughtful and prayerful before we open a can of worms that the convention has not said on the front end they want to open. [Messengers] have said in years past that this is not something we want to do," said Ron Madison, senior pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala. "It may be time to consider it again, but if it is time to consider it again, isn't there wisdom in letting the messengers generate that request, rather than putting something out here ... that is almost guaranteed to become a focus of, at very best, a spirited discussion?" ... Wright noted the convention's name is geographically regional, which he said could be a barrier to starting new churches outside the South. He added he has received "continual feedback" from church planters outside of the South and Southwest regarding the "regional nature of our name." "In New York and Boston and Minneapolis and out West, it's just a big barrier that they are continually dealing with," Wright said. "... Part of the study is to consider a name change as a possibility of removing a barrier to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are so many people that are unreached, that it's a barrier to even have communication with them, or for them to even consider coming to a new church plant that is a Southern Baptist church. Hearing that feedback in [my] travels around the nation was definitely influential in me praying about this possibility."


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