Editor’s note: Detailed stories on each of the items in this article and others can be found throughout the June 21 print edition of the B&R and at baptistandreflector.org.
NEW ORLEANS — The third largest contingent of messengers to an annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention since 2000 gathered June 13-14 in New Orleans.
The 2023 annual meeting, which focused on the theme, “Serving the Lord, Serving Others,” drew 12,737 registered messengers and 3,799 guests. It is only the second time the convention’s annual meeting has exceeded 12,000 messengers during that time frame. Last year’s annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif., drew 8,133 messengers.
Tennessee ranked sixth in attendance with 931 messengers, trailing Texas, 1,292; Louisiana, 1,286; Florida, 1,052; Georgia, 1,014; and Alabama, 943.
Among the most notable decisions of the week were the following:
• Messengers upheld an earlier decision by the SBC Credentials Committee and the Executive Committee to not seat messengers from three churches (Fern Creek Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., Freedom Church in Vero Beach, Fla., and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.) after hearing appeals from representatives of those congregations.
Fern Creek and Saddleback were disfellowshiped for having women in senior pastor roles while Freedom Church was deemed to not be in “friendly cooperation” with the SBC because it failed to cooperate to resolve concerns regarding a sexual abuse allegation.
• Messengers also overwhelmingly reelected Bart Barber to a second term over Mike Stone of Georgia, along with a new slate of vice presidents.
• Messengers began the process of amending the convention’s Constitution, passing an amendment to add a sixth point of what it means to be in “friendly cooperation” by specifying that churches employ “only men as any kind of pastor or elder as qualified by Scripture.” The amendment passed by a two-thirds majority and must receive two-thirds vote next year as well.
• Messengers amended the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and extended the work of the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force. B&R