NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- Baptist Press is live blogging the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans. Up-to-the-minute updates can be read here, at our Twitter account (Twitter.com/BaptistPress
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.All times CST
6:20 p.m. -- The Tuesday session ended without the vote result on the "Great Commission Baptists" descriptor known. Wright told Baptist Press the result will be announced Wednesday morning.
5:45 p.m. -- The IMB presented its report to close today's session. IMB President Tom Elliff gave messengers an update on worldwide missions, saying that last year, through IMB missionaries and their partners, 333,823 accepted Christ and were baptized. Additionally, there were 28,873 church starts, Elliff said.
Elliff also said that 633,262 Christians around the world are involved in on-going Bible studies through IMB missionaries and their partners.
A total of 1,281 SBC churches, and entities, have indicated an interest in reaching an unreached, unengaged people group (UUPG), Elliff said. There were 3,800 UUPG in June 2011, and today there are 3,328, he added.
Jay Wolfe, pastor of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., told messengers how his church had adopted such a people group and how it has seen 35 accept Christ. His message: If First Baptist can do it, "you can do it, too."
5 p.m. -- The International Mission Board is presenting its report.
4:46 p.m. -- Messengers had the opportunity to make more motions minutes ago. Among the ones that were made:
-- A motion that a committee be commissioned to study the theological positions of Southern Baptists' founders from 1845, and that the committee report back to the SBC.
-- A motion that the salary packages of entity heads be capped at $150,000, and that current salary packages be made public.
4:33 p.m. -- During his seminary's report, Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson invited messengers and Southern Baptists to Fort Worth for the seminary's Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. The scrolls, he said, are the "oldest copies of God's Word available anywhere."
4:27 p.m. -- Nathan Lino elected SBC first vice president. He was unopposed.
4:20 p.m. -- After at least 25 minutes of debate, a vote on the Great Commission Baptists descriptor has gone to a ballot vote. A show of hands was close, although the descriptor appeared to have majority support.
3:25 p.m. -- ERLC President Richard Land addressed what he called "another elephant in the room" -- his reprimand by the executive board of the ERLC. Land said he's under the authority of trustees and is appreciative of the process, which he said was conducted in a Christian manner.
Land said it has been his goal for the SBC to elect an African American president. During Land's report, the ERLC awarded its distinguished service award to Luter. Trustees voted in September to present Luter the award.
During the ERLC report, the Task Force of Ministry to Homosexuals delivered its final report to messengers, who were given a brochure with challenges to messengers. The brochure's challengers also were printed in the Book of Reports.
Land said 41 percent of children in America are born out of wedlock. The past several decades in America have shown that fathers are not optional in child-rearing, he said. Gay marriage, Land said, argues that both mothers and fathers are optional.
2:52 p.m. -- Luter elected president. Read our coverage: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=38081
2:20 p.m. -- Executive Committee President Frank Page delivered the EC's second report. Page addressed the issue of Calvinism, saying, "Calvinism is an issue amongst us." He added, "I'm not a Calvinist ... but a lot of our people are." Page said he is concerned that there are some non-Calvinists who are more concerned about rooting out Calvinists than they are about winning lost to Christ. On the flip side, Page said he is concerned about Calvinists who view those who disagree with them as unintelligent. He referenced the panel that will "chart a way" forward for both sides, but Page did not announce any members of the panel. The two sides of the issue have walked arm in arm for the Great Commission for years, Page said, and should continue to do so.
On other issues, he said the Southern Baptist Convention has made progress in reaching other ethnic groups but that more needs to be done. He wants the SBC to mirror "what heaven will be like." Progress, he said, is partially reflected in the new African American Advisory & Hispanic Advisory Councils.
1:55 p.m. -- The Committee on Order of Business referred several motions to the Executive Committee or to LifeWay moments ago. Among them:
To LifeWay -- motion that LifeWay Christian Resources trustees re-examine its decision to continue selling the 2011 NIV, and that the trustees allow Paige Patterson and Louis Markos to address trustees on the matter. The motion said Patterson and Markos have agreed to speak.
To the Executive Committee: motion that future meetings not be held during Father's Day week; motion that SBC switch from an annual meeting to a bi-annual meeting; motion that presidents and trustees of the seminaries consider lowering their Cooperative Program funding and forward it to the IMB.
1:33 p.m. -- The afternoon session of the SBC Annual Meeting is under way. Among the session's highlights: the historical vote on president, 2:50 p.m., the vote on the "Great Commission Baptists" descriptor, 3:50 p.m.
1:30 p.m. -- As of 1:24 p.m., there were 7,682 messengers registered.
12:28 p.m. -- The annual meeting is on its lunch break until 1:30.
12:27 p.m. -- SBC President Bryant Wright finished his address moments ago, preaching from Luke 24:44-49 and addressing the controversy over Calvinism within the Southern Baptist Convention. Following are some highlights:
"My concern is that we can have Christ-centered, Bible believing Christians so engaged in trying to correct one another's view when it comes to election, that the next thing you know the devil is standing over to the side, because we have taken our focus off of what Christ tells us our clear mission is, and that is the Great Commission. And [the devil] is going to be laughing and he is going to be mocking and he is going to be rejoicing that we're no longer interested in rescuing the captives that God calls us to rescue with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
"Let us understand that these two views on election and salvation can co-exist as long as we stay Christ-centered and biblically based in our theology."
Wright delivered "a word" to each group.
"To our Calvinist friends: A bit of humility would be most welcome. Any time there is pride, whether it is spiritual pride or intellectual pride or theological pride, it is always a sin. And we need to recognize that an attitude of superiority with those who may disagree over the finer aspects of theological belief is never going to build up the church of Jesus Christ."
After several centuries of debate, the issue is not going to be resolved in the first few years of the 21st century, Wright said.
"To those who call themselves traditional Southern Baptists: The time for judgmentalism is over, because judgmentalism quickly moves into slander. And to lump all those who have a strong, solid, biblically based theology that is a more Calvinist theology" with hyper-Calvinists "is not only misguided but it winds up causing you to break the Ninth Commandment on false witness.
"It is time to show some respect for those of differing views when it comes to election and when it comes to salvation."
Wright referenced the 2006 dialogue between R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Paige Patterson on the subject of Calvinism.
"That is the spirit that we need today."
"If we pride ourselves more on being a traditional Southern Baptist or more on being a Calvinist or a Reformed theologian, more than we are thankful that we are Christ-centered and biblically based ... then it is time to repent of theological idolatry. Our calling is to be centered on Christ and grounded in the Word while agreeing to disagree on the finer points of theological issues, may we all agree that Christ ... has given us a very clear message and mission for the church."
11:29 a.m. -- SBC President Bryant Wright has begun his presidential address. He is preaching from Luke 24:44-49 and is addressing the controversy over Calvinism. The two views can "co-exist," he said.
11:15 a.m. -- SBC Annual Meeting registration count as of 11:15 a.m. CST: 7,537.
11:03 a.m. -- Messengers got a preview of LifeWay's new Gospel Project curriculum, which LifeWay's Ed Stetzer said will go deeper but always be Christ- and missions-focused. People are "ready to learn," he said. The curriculum, he said, will cover multiple sides of a controversial issue and leave it up to the reader to decide. "It is important not to shy away" from certain questions, Stetzer said. The BF&M will be the guide. LifeWay's Trevin Wax said 12,000 people have signed up to preview the Gospel Project.
10:44 a.m. -- During the LifeWay Christians Recourses report, Lifeway President Thom S. Rainer was asked by a messenger to explain how LifeWay chooses which products to sell. The messenger said he grows tired of the yearly debates. "It's not easy," Rainer said. "... It is a difficult process." He added, "We have to make calls" on products that some may object to.
Rainer told the messengers, "We take our work seriously. He requested of messengers, "Trust the trustees." The trustees are pastors, directors of mission, educators, homemakers, Rainer said.
10:28 a.m. -- LifeWay Christian Resources is giving its report.
10:19 a.m. -- The EC report has concluded. During it, Southern Baptists heard from Brazil missionaries Eric and Ramona Reese, whose story of commitment to the inner city has inspired many. The report included several videos, including one with D.C. pastor Mark Dever and IMB president Tom Elliff talking about the Cooperative Program. "Southern Baptist missions would not exist without the Cooperative Program," Elliff said
9:50 a.m. -- During the Executive Committee report, Florida pastor Ted Traylor expressed concern over an EC plan that would gradually, over the next three years, eliminate the subsidizing of the SBC Pastors Conference. (Read more about that recommendation at http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37233
EC Chairman Roger Spradlin addressed Traylor, saying that although the EC has always subsidized the Pastors' Conference, revenue from venders -- who pay the Pastors Conference to set up booths within the hall -- led the EC to re-examine the issue. Spradlin said that since there was a new stream of revenue for the Pastors' Conference, and since the EC is committed to moving more money to the International Mission Board, "we thought we'd be able" to reduce subsidization.
However, Spradlin said, the EC has learned of challenges to the venders' revenue stream and will re-examine the issue during its September meeting.
Traylor, a former Pastors Conference' president, thanked Spradlin and said, "We would hate to see the Pastors' Conference go away."
9:18 a.m. -- EC President Frank Page is giving his report.
9:11 a.m. -- More than 1,100 made decisions for Christ during Crossover, messengers were told. Also, as of 9:11, 7,000 messengers have registered.
8:46 a.m. -- Messengers made motions moments ago. Among the motions made:
-- Motion that messengers go on record agreeing with the trustee executive committee of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which reprimanded Richard Land for comments he made on his radio program.
-- Motion that LifeWay Christian Resources trustees re-examine its decision to continue selling the 2011 NIV, and that the trustees allow Paige Patterson and Louis Markos to address trustees on the matter. The motion said Patterson and Markos have agreed to speak.
-- Motion that presidents and trustees of the seminaries consider lowering their Cooperative Program funding and forward it to the IMB. A specific percentage was mentioned in the messenger's motion.
-- Motion that SBC switch from an annual meeting to a bi-annual meeting.
-- Motion that future meetings not be held during Father's Day week.
-- Motion that the 2015 convention be moved from Columbus, Ohio to Memphis to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the adoption of the Cooperative Program.
8:30 a.m. -- Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, noted the significance of the day moments ago, saying, "You can show the world we are re-doing our future." Kelley was referencing the expected election of Fred Luter, who would become the SBC's first black president.
8:13 a.m. -- President Bryant Wright gavels the meeting to order. Wright used a gavel that has been used at SBC meetings every year since 1872. The gavel head is made from olive wood from the Mount of Olives in Israel.
8 a.m. -- Congregational music has begun.
Blogging by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press