Keep SBC name, remain in Orlando to be recommended at June meeting
The recommendations were approved during the Feb. 22-23 meeting of the SBC Executive Committee in Nashville, Tenn.
In a two-page report concerning the possibility of changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention -- which it has had since its founding in 1845 -- the Executive Committee said it "finds no compelling rationale" for a change or for a feasibility study of the idea.
The report noted various studies and surveys had been reviewed -- including a 1975 report by a special seven-member SBC committee which also recommended against a name change. Additionally, motions made during at least five previous SBC annual meetings and state paper news articles during a 40-year period addressing the subject also had been reviewed.
The Executive Committee report was in response to motions referred from the 1998 SBC annual meeting in Salt Lake City, in which one messenger from New York called for a feasibility study of a name change and another messenger from Iowa proposed "Baptist Convention of North America" as a new name.
The Executive Committee report said a name change might help in some areas where the Southern Baptist Convention name "is perceived as creating barriers."
But a name change "is not justified when all factors are taken into account," the Executive Committee report said.
In some areas, the report stated, difficulties with the SBC name "have been ameliorated by not including the word 'Southern' in church names." In yet other cases, "churches choosing to use the term 'Southern Baptist' in their name or materials have prospered, even in non-southern areas."
Among factors the Executive Committee report cited weighing against a name change:
-- "There is no consensus on an acceptable alternate name … ." The word, "Cooperative," for example, "now implies alliance with groups who seek to distinguish themselves from the SBC," the report said, in a reference to the moderate breakaway Cooperative Baptist Fellowship organization.
-- Changing the convention's name, "or even leaving the issue open for debate over an extended period, would at the very least be unsettling to its ongoing evangelistic work," the report said. The issue would "create division where unity now holds sway."
-- "The name 'Southern Baptist Convention' and the term 'SBC' have become brand names meaning more than just the sum of their parts. The Southern Baptist Convention no longer denotes a region as much as it does a position. It has come to mean missionary zeal, staunch Bible defense, moral rectitude, adherence to faith, and dependence upon the Lord. … Examples of other names that have transcended their original regional meaning include Western Union, Northwest Airlines, and New York Life."
Concerning Orlando as the site of the 2000 SBC annual meeting, the Executive Committee declined to act on three motions referred from the 1998 SBC annual meeting to move to another city. One of the motions specified New York City.
Orlando is the home of Disney World, thus the motions stem from the boycott of The Disney Company endorsed by messengers to the 1997 SBC annual meeting in Dallas, challenging various "anti-family" and "anti-Christian" directions and specific practices at the entertainment conglomerate.
The Executive Committee, in declining to recommend another city for the 2000 convention, said it believes messengers to the Orlando SBC will "meet the challenge presented by worldliness that the Southern Baptist Convention has met in other convention cities." The Executive Committee voiced its anticipation that "the faithfulness of Southern Baptists to Crossover Orlando [evangelistic efforts prior to the SBC] and the refusal to patronize the Disney organization will be a profound testimony for the cause of Christ to Orlando, Florida, and the nation."
The Executive Committee also noted, "… the faithfulness of Southern Baptists in keeping contractual agreements will be a positive and effective testimony for the cause of Christ to the hotel and convention industry."