By Shawn Hendricks
NASHVILLE — When Southern Baptists depart St. Louis after their annual meeting in June, says SBC president Ronnie Floyd, he will be praying they do so with a “deep burden for our nation, a new commitment to racial unity, and an extraordinary commitment to evangelize America.”
With the theme of this year’s June 14-15 gathering being “Awaken America: Reach the World — Agree, Unite, Pray,” Floyd continues to point to passionate prayer as a critical tool for a “nationwide and global spiritual awakening.”
“I pray that our SBC messengers encounter the living God through moments of worship, preaching, challenge, and prayer,” Floyd said.
For the second year, Floyd will lead a Tuesday evening session devoted to prayer. “A National Call to Prayer for Spiritual Leadership” will feature a diverse group of Southern Baptist leaders and pastors with special guests Keith and Kristyn Getty. Floyd has also invited African American pastor Jerry Young, who is president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., to participate in the evening session. Young also will be among the speakers at a special session, “A National Conversation on Racial Unity in America,” that will take place that morning.
Floyd described St. Louis as “one of America’s significant cities.”
“With the racial unrest in St. Louis due to what happened in Ferguson in August of 2014, Southern Baptists will have a strong opportunity to represent Christ through Crossover ministry in the city,” Floyd said of the annual evangelism outreach event that takes place each year in the annual meeting’s host city. They also have an opportunity to “speak to the racial challenges that face not only St. Louis, but our entire nation.” About 3,500 volunteers are expected to participate in Crossover.
He noted, “I believe we will leave St. Louis with a powerful, strong, clear, and encouraging testimony of the need for loving one another, regardless of the color of one’s skin.”
As Floyd wraps up his second and final term as SBC president in June, messengers will elect a new leader. At least three candidates are expected to be nominated for SBC president: North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear, Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, and Louisiana pastor David Crosby.
In an interview with the Baptist and Reflector in March, Gaines noted, “I love the Southern Baptist Convention.” He has served in a number of capacities within the denomination, including service on the committee that proposed a revision of the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000 and chairman of the SBC Resolutions Committee. Gaines also has served as president of the SBC Pastors Conference and the TBC Pastors Conference.
He also told the B&R that he understands the needs of all churches in the SBC. “There is no such thing as a small church. Every church is big in the eyes of God.”
Tennesseans to serve
Several other Tennessee Baptists are in line to serve throughout the SBC in the coming year through appointments or if elected by messengers in June.
Two Tennessee pastors will serve on the Teller Committee in St. Louis — Jedidiah Coppenger, Redemption City Church, Franklin, and Jeremy Roberts, Church of the Highlands, Harrison.
In addition, two Tennessee pastors were named to the 2016 Credentials Committee — Van Richmond, New Life Church, Nashville, and Aric Randolph, Brentwood Baptist Deaf Church, Brentwood.
Tennesseans who are nominated to serve on the boards of SBC entities include:
Stacy S. Bramlett, First Baptist Church, Collierville, Executive Committee;
Robert L. “Bob” Sorrell, Collierville, second term, GuideStone Financial Services;
Edward “David” Coombs Jr., Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, International Mission Board;
Grant Gaines, pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Jackson, North American Mission Board;
Larry Robertson, pastor, Hilldale Baptist Church, Clarksville, second term, NAMB;
Luther D. McDaniel, First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, LifeWay Christian Resources; and
David Meany, First Baptist Church, Collierville, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Nominees will serve during the coming year if elected.
Messengers gathering in St. Louis will consider a variety of recommendations during the annual meeting. Among them:
- A recommendation amending SBC Bylaw 26 regarding questions to SBC entity leaders from the floor during the annual meeting. The recommendation is intended to provide consistency in the time allotted for messengers to ask questions. The EC will present the recommendation to messengers during the SBC’s meeting.
- A one-time transfer of funds from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to the International Mission Board to assist IMB personnel leaving the board during its “organizational reset.”
- A new name for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. If messengers give approval to the name change, the new name will be Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. To take effect, the bylaw amendment, which was approved during last year’s annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, must be approved again by messengers in St. Louis.
As always, there are a host of SBC-related events including the Pastors Conference, WMU annual meeting, seminary luncheons, and more.
Register online at sbcannualmeeting.net under the Messengers/Guests tab. To help ensure the orderly flow of attendees and enhance security of the convention hall, this year each messenger, exhibitor, and guest will need to be registered and properly badged for entrance into the general sessions June 14-15.
Messengers to the annual meeting once again can stay updated by using the “SBC Annual Meetings” mobile application. The app includes a listing of speakers for the SBC Pastors Conference and SBC annual meeting, as well as the daily program schedule, daily events, exhibitor listing, convention center maps, 2016 Book of Reports and more. Download the app on your mobile device by accessing the App Store, Google Play, or by visiting http://m.coreapps.com/sbc_am2016. Messengers can also follow on Twitter @SBCMeeting, @BaptistPress, @SBCLife, @sbccp, and @SBCPastorsconf for the latest annual meeting updates.