The 2015 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is scheduled for June 16-17 in Columbus, Ohio. The business will be conducted by Ronnie Floyd, the SBC president whom I recently mentioned.
For many years it was a thrill to attend the SBC annual meetings—and can you believe that June and I even attended the 1957 annual meeting in Chicago on our honeymoon! And we were even called on stage to stand before everyone present as, not surprisingly, the most recently married couple there.
In 1963, I again attended the annual meeting. That year the convention met in Kansas City, and it was a significant one: the Baptist Faith and Message was revised for the first time since its original adoption in 1925.
The BF&M was again changed slightly in 1998 and more at the 2000 annual meeting. The latter revision was the one that all SBC “employees” were required to sign, pledging “to work in agreement with and not contrary to” it. June and I were forced to retire as Southern Baptist missionaries because we could not in good conscience do that.
As a SB missionary on furlough (Stateside assignment), I attended four annual meetings, the last in 1992. I grew increasingly dissatisfied with them—not so much because I had changed, although I had to a certain degree (for the best, of course!), but mainly because the SBC was moving farther and farther to the religious and political right.
I gradually became ashamed of what I had previously been so proud of.
That right-wing movement and stance in the SBC has continued unabated in the last twenty years and will be clearly seen again at this week’s annual meeting in Columbus.
The “Convention sermon” this year will be given by Rev. Eddie Bumpers, pastor of Crossway Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo. Over the years that church has experienced considerable growth, but it is, apparently (and not surprisingly), a very conservative church.
In addition to summer camps and Vacation Bible School, the only event Crossway BC has listed for this summer is a two-day Answers in Genesis conference in August. As some of you know, AiG interprets Genesis literally and, consequently, affirms “young earth” creationism: on their website they clearly state that the earth is “only a few thousand years old.”
Prior to the Convention sermon on that June 17 afternoon, which is scheduled in the closing hour of the annual meeting, there will be a 25-minute report and presentation by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, given by its president, Russell D. Moore.
Immediately following, there will be a special “SBC Presidential Panel” with president Floyd interviewing Moore, Southern Seminary president Al Mohler and others. The topic: “The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage: Preparing our Churches.”
This discussion will take place as the Supreme Court is deciding this month whether to strike down same-sex marriage bans in 14 states, including the SBC meeting’s host state of Ohio. It seems as if those who planned this special panel discussion assume that those bans will be struck down.
The position of Moore and Mohler (as well as many other SBC leaders) on the same-sex marriage issue is quite clear: complete opposition. And presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who is an ordained SB minister and was for six years president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, has recently joined many other conservative Christians threatening civil disobedience if the SCOTUS approves same-sex marriage.
Yes, I was once a proud member of the SBC and annual meeting attender. But, sadly, no more.