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SBC name change task force holds inaugural meeting
Posted on Oct 27, 2011 | by Staff

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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.

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, www.pray4sbc.com. 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. We are not authorized to change the name of the convention, nor are we certain that such a change is right. We do know that it is right to ask the question, and to consider our name in light of our mission," Draper said. "We also want Southern Baptists to know that we, as a task force, are unified in affirming that we are and will ever remain Baptist -- and that name is more than a label, it is a testimony. We cannot envision a name change that would not include 'Baptist' in the name."

The full text of the task force statement follows:

STATEMENT FROM Jimmy Draper

CHAIRMAN, SBC TASK FORCE TO STUDY POSSIBILITY OF NAME CHANGE FOR OUR CONVENTION

October 26, 2011

The Task Force appointed by Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright to study the possibility of changing the name of our convention met for our first meeting October 26, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Sixteen of the twenty members of the task force were in attendance, and the meeting was graciously hosted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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. We spent time in prayer, together and in small groups, and then turned to the matters at hand.

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.

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. 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.

I am thankful for the responsible quality of our first discussion. The committee is representative of the Southern Baptist Convention, ranging from pastors of some of our oldest churches to those who are planting new churches far outside of the southern states. The task force is diverse in composition, but united in our singular purpose to serve all Southern Baptists in this work.

We know that we need more information. I will be writing Southern Baptist leaders ranging from the heads of our entities to the leaders of our state conventions. We will be asking all Southern Baptists to let their concerns and convictions be known. We have asked LifeWay Research (a ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources) to research the issue of our name among the very people we are trying to reach -- the unreached.

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. We are not authorized to change the name of the convention, nor are we certain that such a change is right. We do know that it is right to ask the question, and to consider our name in light of our mission.

We also want Southern Baptists to know that we, as a task force, are unified in affirming that we are and will ever remain Baptist -- and that name is more than a label, it is a testimony. We cannot envision a name change that would not include "Baptist" in the name.

We will meet again to continue our conversation and we are eager to hear from Southern Baptists. We want to thank the hundreds of Southern Baptists who have sent us letters, emails, and other communications. Please communicate with us at pray4sbc.com.

We know that Southern Baptists are very interested in this conversation and passionate about our mission and identity. That is a sign of our health and vitality. We will report once the task force has met again.

Task Force members are:

-- Michael Allen, senior pastor of Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago;

-- Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C.;

-- David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.;

-- Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board;

-- Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board;

-- Ken Fentress, senior pastor of Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Md.;

-- Micah Fries, lead pastor of Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church in St. Joseph, Mo.;

-- Aaron Harvie, lead pastor of Riverside Community Church in Horsham, Penn.;

-- Susie Hawkins, speaker, Bible study teacher and missions volunteer from Dallas;

-- Fred Hewett, executive director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention;

-- Cathy Horner, Bible teacher and pastor's wife from Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.;

-- Benny Jo, pastor of HANA Korean Baptist Church in Las Vegas, Nev.;

-- Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.;

-- Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas;

-- Bobby Sena, retired director of Hispanic resource development and equipping in the North American Mission Board's church planting group;

-- Roger Spradlin, co-senior pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., and chairman of the SBC Executive Committee;

-- John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention;

-- Jay Wolf, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.

Jimmy Draper, Chairman

President Emeritus LifeWay
--30--
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor and senior writer Mark Kelly.
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