NASHVILLE — Intercessory prayer and special disaster recovery funding topped the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee agenda during its Sept. 18–19 meeting, which marked the group’s centennial.
The Executive Committee unanimously approved a resolution calling Southern Baptists and other Christians to prevailing prayer in the midst of “racial unrest, cataclysmic storms, raging wildfires, political strife, daily shootings in cities across the land, and rampant disregard for the commands and teachings of God’s Word.”
EC President Frank S. Page led those in attendance in a special prayer, recognizing God’s power to overcome obstacles too great for mankind.
“The needs that are out there are bigger than we are, but they’re not bigger than You, and we rely on You,” Page interceded. “We pray, God, that God’s people would rise up to minister like never before … and do what Christian people do, because it’s right, because there’s a need.”
With Southern Baptists responding concurrently to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and with Hurricane Maria raging through the already battered Caribbean, Southern Baptists committed additional dollars to disaster recovery.
The EC will give the first $1.25 million of any overage in the SBC’s 2016-2017 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget to disaster relief efforts in Florida and Texas. The full budget overage for the Executive Committee, meanwhile, will be forwarded to the International Mission Board for international disaster relief, the EC voted, while also making provision for other SBC entities to assist with hurricane relief from their budgets through a one-time action to suspend SBC bylaw stipulations.
The actions came as the EC marked 100 years of service. Southern Baptists formed the EC in 1917 “to act for the convention during the interim of its meetings on matters not otherwise provided for in its plans of work.”
In what Page described as a “low-key” celebration, he told the EC “we don’t exist to promote ourselves. We exist to make sure missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention succeed …. So we don’t need to have much attention to ourselves.”
SBC President Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, reminded EC members that prayer and evangelism will enable the Southern Baptist Convention to abide and continue its work in an increasingly eclectic society.
SBC leaders and laity must see and love the lost so much that it creates a burden that the lost be saved, Gaines said in his address Sept. 18 at the SBC Building. He exhorted the Executive Committee, other Southern Baptist leaders and SBC employees gathered before him, to understand and love the disadvantaged, and to show them the love of Christ.
“I want to tell you this,” said Gaines. “The future of the Southern Baptist Convention depends on whether or not we will prioritize prayer and evangelism. I don’t care where you are on the theological spectrum, if you don’t believe in prayer and evangelism, there’s no hope.
“We’ve got to embrace it.”
In other business, the EC received a report from an ad hoc Cooperative Program Study Committee formed at the EC’s February 2017 meeting after a motion cited a “current reality in Southern Baptist life of churches either escrowing or discontinuing Cooperative Program funds.”
In its report, the study committee said less than .0016 percent of Southern Baptist churches have withheld, designated or escrowed CP funds — a percentage “lower than anticipated.”
The reasons for redirecting CP funds, the ad hoc committees’ final report stated, “varied as much and the number of churches identified.”