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In other SBC annual meeting matters:


More than 1,140 decisions for Christ were made during Crossover, the yearly evangelistic emphasis prior to each annual meeting.

International Mission Board President Tom Elliff reported on the progress of IMB’s Embrace challenge, issued at the 2011 SBC in Phoenix, where he called on Southern Baptist churches to claim responsibility for evangelizing all of the world’s then-3,800 unreached, unengaged people groups (UUPGs).

He said 1,281 Southern Baptist churches and entities have indicated an interest in embracing a UUPG. Of that number, 474 churches and entities have taken steps to go deeper in that commitment.

“It means some of you are taking this really seriously, and you’re saying we want to count the cost, we want to see what’s involved,” Elliff said. “I want to tell you on behalf of the International Mission Board, we’re absolutely thrilled.

“We welcome you to the field, we rejoice that you’ve taken up this mantle and we praise God that the Kingdom is being expanded because of your involvement.”

North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell encouraged congregations to get involved in planting churches and supporting church planters.

To underscore the urgency he quoted statistics showing that in some states in the Northeast, Midwest and the Northwest, there is only one Southern Baptist church for every 20,000-plus people. In Canada, it’s one in 117,000, he said. By comparison, the ratio in the South is one in less than 10,000.

“Church planting is an evangelistic strategy,” Ezell said.

NAMB has a goal for Southern Baptists to plant a net of 5,000 new churches by 2022, Ezell said. When including churches that die each year, that means Southern Baptists must plant 13,500 new churches.

“We will never be able to plant that many churches unless God does a work in His people,” Ezell said.

• Messengers passed nine resolutions.

A resolution on the sinner’s prayer said the prayer is “not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel.” It further said that messengers “promote any and all biblical means of urging sinners to call on the name of the Lord in a prayer of repentance and faith.”

See related story on page 3.

A resolution on gay marriage and civil rights rhetoric declared: “We deny that the effort to legalize ‘same-sex marriage’ qualifies as a civil rights issue since homosexuality does not qualify as a class meriting special protections, like race and gender.”

The resolution also said messengers “stand against any form of gay-bashing” and that messengers “express our love to those who struggle with same-sex attraction and who are engaged in the homosexual lifestyle.” The resolution was submitted by two African American pastors.