I had the privilege on
attending live-streaming the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention during the week, and was encouraged by much of what I saw. The gathering brought together over 11,500 people who come together for the annual meeting to discuss Baptist polity, cultural issues, worship together, become inspired for the year ahead of ministry, and take care of business matters at hand. There was probably some major Baptist fellowship that happened as well, which is to be expected. In case you missed it, here are 5 of my favorite highlights from this year’s convention:
A Wild Presidential Race Ends With Humility
Perhaps the most significant portion of the convention was the election of the new SBC President, as Dr. Ronnie Floyd finished up the remainder of his service this spring to hand off to the next in line. The top two candidates in the running were pastor J.D. Greear of Raleigh, NC and pastor Steve Gaines of Memphis, TN. The voting process was no easy matter, as two voting cycles went by, Greear and Gaines each winning a voting round but neither gaining the necessary majority to secure the election. After a night of suspense, it was revealed on Wednesday that pastor Greear was submitting his vote to Dr. Gaines and thus stepping out of the race for the sake of unity within the body. It turns out, both candidates were thinking of stepping out, but ultimately Greear expressed his support for Gaines and demonstrated an encouraging act of humility. These are the kinds of guys we need running for the national presidency!
The Seminary Updates Show Signs of Promise
Southern Baptists are known in some ways for their seminaries. Their commitment to the finest theological education is no new concept, and it is because of the kinds of leaders at the helm. Hearing from voices like Dr. Albert Mohler (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Dr. Jason Allen (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), and Daniel Akin (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary), among others, brought a deep sense of encouragement to me as I consider pursuing seminary soon. As Allen said, “The quality of students we graduate is directly connected to the quality of pastors entering churches.” This is the mindset seminary presidents should champion.
Dr. James Merritt Delivers a Stirring Call For The Kingdom
One great feature of the convention is that it allows for the voices of all to be heard, offering Messengers the chance to chime in to offer new motions, comment on resolutions, and offers amendments to resolutions. There were some moments where this privilege brought on unfortunate remarks, but above all there was one who took the mic in the crowd that delivered a powerful address. Watch James Merritt, from Cross Point Church in Duluth, GA, commenting on the resolution to repudiate and discontinue display of the Confederate Flag. Watch below.
Dr. Russell Moore Soundly Calls For Religious Freedom to All
One thing I have always appreciated about Dr. Moore is that he is absolutely tenacious with the gospel. He “lets the lion out,” as Spurgeon said, and he does a masterful job of explaining how the gospel should affect our ethical and political thinking. Here, he delivers a powerful response to a call to governmentally ban mosques.
A Clear Commitment to Fervency in Prayer
Throughout the convention, I appreciated the primacy of prayer throughout the convention. Whether it was resolutions advocating for the prayer of the Orlando shooting victims, prayer for the globalization of Southern Baptists and missions, a wonderful prayer meeting, the emphasis on prayer was so encouraging to see from those who lead the charge of Southern Baptists. Dr. Steve Gaines will only help this cause of remembering the importance of prayer, and I am excited to see his leadership take its course.
What did I miss? Comment below to share some of your favorite highlights from this year’s convention.