The Baptist Paper
NEW ORLEANS — Messengers to the 2023 SBC annual meeting in New Orleans adopted a total of nine resolutions during the business sessions on June 13 and June 14.
“Resolutions are an important part of what we do each and every year as a convention of churches,” said resolutions committee chair David Sons in introducing Part 1 of the committee’s report. “They give us a glimpse into the convictions and concerns of Southern Baptists at a given point in history.”
Prior to voting on resolutions, several messengers voiced concerns that the window for submitting resolutions was unclear. The window closes 15 days before the annual meeting, which was May 29. The 15 days were counted from June 12, said SBC president Bart Barber in consultation with SBC parliamentarian Al Gage.
Sons said the committee received 23 properly submitted resolutions. Out of those, the committee presented nine resolutions for consideration.
Resolutions No. 1 through No. 5 were adopted without changes to the proposed text. Resolution No. 6, “On the Southern Baptist Confessional Heritage of the Office of Bishop/Elder/Pastor,” was adopted with an amendment that struck the phrase, “while autonomous churches may differ in their uses and categories regarding titles for staff members,” an amendment offered by messenger Tom Ascol, who said he proposed the resolution. A problem with microphones in the convention hall forced leaders to shift to cordless mics and led to one messenger being unable to speak to resolution No. 3 and one messenger being unable to speak to resolution No. 5. Messengers declined to reconsider those resolutions despite the microphone problems.
What do resolutions mean?
Resolutions adopted during a Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting are meant to express an opinion or concern (not direct an action) and are presented in their final form to messengers by the Resolutions Committee.
Resolutions have the “whereas” and “therefore be it resolved” statements, leading up to the main point in the final paragraph.
Resolutions have no actual authority. They are merely a way for messengers meeting during a specific annual meeting to go on record expressing their opinion about a certain topic.
And even when adopted by messengers, that does not necessarily mean everyone in attendance agrees or voted in favor of the resolution.
Neither does it mean those not in attendance support it.
That’s why resolutions are not considered official rules or guidance for churches, and thus, past resolutions cannot be rescinded by future sets of messengers according to parliamentary procedure.
Messengers adopted three additional resolutions as the final business session of the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans drew to a close on June 14.
Two additional resolutions proposed from the convention floor, one dealing with women in pastoral ministry and another decrying the evils of pedophilia, failed to get the necessary votes to be considered by messengers.
Resolutions No. 7 through No. 9 were adopted without changes to the proposed text. Messengers did not vote in favor of efforts to amend the committee’s wording of Resolutions No. 7, “On Christ’s Sole Lordship Over Every Human Conscience,” and No. 8, “On Opposing ‘Gender Transitions.’ ”
Resolution No. 9 expressed appreciation to the city of New Orleans for hosting the annual meeting.
Upon adoption of Resolution No. 3, “On Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies,” the Southern Baptist Convention became the first national denomination to pass a definitive statement on the ethics of artificial intelligence, according to a spokesperson for the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Brent Leatherwood, ERLC president, said the resolution will become the cornerstone of the ERLC’s advocacy on the issue.
“Our resolutions committee deserves all the appreciation we can muster for crafting this first-of-its-kind resolution for any denomination or network of churches,” Leatherwood said.
“Artificial intelligence has been a hot topic, both in Washington and on the international stage. This resolution comes at an opportune time and proves once again that even when it comes to the leading edge of emerging technologies, the Bible, as always, gives us principles to guide us in uncharted waters.”
Regarding Resolution No. 4, “On Wisely Engaging Immigration,” Leatherwood said, “Our convention of churches has consistently called for a secure border and for immigrants to be treated with dignity. This resolution once again asserts our commitment to these twin principles that should never be pitted against one another. It rightly calls on our nation’s officials to come together and create solutions to solve our immigration crisis.”
And regarding Resolution No. 8, “On Opposing ‘Gender Transitions,’” Leatherwood said, “As the Baptist Faith and Message states, gender is a gift and is an essential part of the ‘goodness of God’s creation.’ It is not fluid, self-defined or subject to the whims of a prevailing culture at odds with biological reality. This resolution rightly affirms those state governments that have taken steps to protect children from becoming pawns in the sexual revolution through harmful interventions and surgeries. At the same time, it confirms the SBC will continue to be a strong voice advocating against these exploitative efforts that render far too many children and young people vulnerable.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article is part of the team coverage of Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting and Executive Committee events by staff members from The Baptist Record, Baptist & Reflector, Baptist Message, Illinois Baptist State Association, The Alabama Baptist and The Baptist Paper.