(Photo attributed to Baptist Press)
The SBC in St. Louis offered many pivotal moments in the life of our convention that will not soon be forgotten. (If you haven’t already, see James Merritt’s amendment concerning the resolution on the Confederate flag and Dr. Moore’s defense of the religious liberty of Muslims and all faith groups) In the coming days we at B21 will be running a series of posts featuring the reflections of key leaders from this memorable convention.
This is the second post in the series: see Noah Oldham’s reflections here.
Below are the reflections of Ronnie Parrott, one of our own at B21 and a pastor on staff at Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas.
Stay tuned for other leaders’ reflections.
Last week, the 159th annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention ended, and it was an historic one. Each year thousands of pastors who represent thousands of churches gather together to worship Jesus, discuss issues facing evangelicalism, and hear from the entities of the SBC. For two days we subject our hearts and minds to our mission to train pastors, equip churches, and send missionaries to the nations. These are our priorities. This is what we do. It’s our DNA. The annual meeting helps me reengage in my calling as a pastor with renewed passion.
I left this years meeting excited more than ever about the future of the SBC for several reasons.
1) A Resolute Stand Against the Confederate Flag. The SBC’s past is plagued with a pro-slavery positions and racism. A resolution was approved in 1995 calling for repentance of our racist past and sought forgiveness from all African Americans. This years SBC brought a resolution calling on Southern Baptists to “prayerfully consider whether to limit or discontinue the use of the Confederate flag.”
The Confederate flag is known to be a highly demeaning symbol to our African American brothers and sisters, and stands as a stumbling block to our witness as Christians. Dr. James Merritt, Lead Pastor at CrossPoint Church in Dultuh, Georgia and a past-president of the SBC, delivered a strong plea to the messengers to adopt stronger language and to do away with the flag for good. This moment was unlike any moment I have ever seen at the annual meeting, and the amendment was overwhelmingly adopted
2) The Presidency of Steve Gaines. The pulpit of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN has been filled by some of the strongest Baptist preachers. Steve Gaines is no different. He is a faithful proclaimer of the word of God and holds nothing back when calling men and women to be saved. Steve Gaines’s has been clear about his desires of his presidency, mainly, for evangelism to once again take priority in our churches and for God to move America to Spiritual Awakening. I am committed to praying for Steve, specifically that he will lead us to greater unity and commitment to the mission of God.
3) The Humility of J.D. Greear. This year’s election of the new President of the SBC was one like none other in history. Two incredible pastors divided the vote twice. TWICE. While a third vote would have most likely given us a new President, it would have also left a visible divide in the SBC. Sensing the Spirit’s work in his heart and a desire for unity in the SBC, Greear took the heart of a servant and humbly withdrew his name from the nomination allowing Gaines to win unanimously. What a moment. What a testimony. What a leader.
4) Kevin Ezell and David Platt. These guys are incredible. NAMB is booming and IMB is poised to have the greatest missionary movement that has ever taken place in modern history. I cannot wait to see what God does through their leadership.
5) The ERLC. Before Russell Moore took over the ERLC I was hardly engaged in this entity. That is no longer the case. I long for their articles, follow all of their staff on social media, and look for every blog Dr. Moore releases. They are the go-to organization for cultural engagement. They love the local church and seek to equip, aid, and serve her to engage the culture without loosing the gospel. I am thankful for them.
6) Unity. As I heard the news of J.D. Greear’s decision to withdraw, I could not help but to pause and pray. I was drawn to remember the theme for this year’s SBC was “Agree. Unite. Pray.” Then I recalled the topic that Dr. Ted Traylor was to preach on immediately following J.D. was unity. And right there backstage I was reminded of God’s sweet sovereignty and his goodness to lead us to unity. He had worked it out. We walked away agreeing, uniting, and praying. For God’s glory.
These are only six of the many reasons I love the SBC. The future of cooperative missions is bright and I am committed to this great family we call the Southern Baptist Convention.