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." Read More