Published November 3, 2011
FORT WORTH, TX (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 Seminary here.
Convention President Bryant Wright of Marietta announced the 20-member task force during the opening session of the SBC Executive Committee’s Sept. 19-20 meeting in Nashville. 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.
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 original 140-character limit.
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 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.”
For the complete list of committee members see the Oct. 6 issue of The Index or read the list online at www.christianindex.org/7589.article.
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