As of the time of the election of first vice president yesterday afternoon, at about 4:45, the registration had reached 7,200, which was below expectations but not surprising. Gas in Indianapolis is over $4.00 a gallon today, and along the route on the way in, depending on where you are coming from, is as high as $4.25. Not only that, but the major interstate highways up from the South are blocked with flooding and major detours. I think a lot of people just weighed all of that and decided not to come.
Tuesday afternoon drew a much larger crowd this year than it did last year, largely because the order of business moved the election of president from the late morning to the mid-afternoon. There were 5,800 ballots cast, and I’ll bet there weren’t 2,500 people who stayed in the hall after they were collected.
On Sexual Abusers
The word from Dr. Chapman and the executive committee on this issue was also not surprising. The SBC’s leadership will encourage churches to use available databases on sexual offenders, particularly the Department of Justice, but it will not create such a database of its own. While the rhetoric yesterday may sound like a lot of words with no real action to back them up, frankly I do not see how establishing such a database would be any more productive than using existing ones. Denominations in which the clergy work for, and are paid by denominational entities have the ability to keep and use such information because they are the keepers of the employee records. The SBC is not.
I believe the executive committee’s statement is an indication that they are willing to work to find a way to curb the problem that exists within the SBC, so perhaps those who have a high level of interest in doing this can come up with something that will work.
New Theme: Great Commission Resurgence
Get used to that term, because you will be hearing a lot of it related to the SBC. In my opinion, this is somewhat of a way for the SBC leadership to deal with the sagging baptism and membership numbers without actually having to admit there is a problem, or mention it directly. David Dockery used the term several times in the “Challenge” message yesterday. A booklet about it was placed in every bag, and given out to everyone who made a Lifeway purchase. Dockery’s message in particular made the connection from the fact that the SBC has solidified its doctrinal position over the last 30 years, but that it must not sacrifice fellowship or evangelistic emphasis in the process, and that’s more or less what has been happening, or so he said.
I was surprised by the Distinguished Baptist Statesman award going to Dr Billy Kim. Dr Kim is a huge supporter of the Baptist World Alliance and was its president when the SBC parted ways. Does his receiving this award signal a shift in SBC policy? I have always wondered whether Dr. Chapman in particular was not really on board with the SBC’s separation from the BWA, which was an action taken from the floor of the convention.
This was coupled with a rousing speech by Dr Bobby Welch, who now heads the SBC’s effort to uncover and work with other “like minded” Christians around the world, in forming another organization of conservatives to counter the BWA. Dr. Welch got loud and preacher-like in his presentation, but I suspect that what efforts have been made have met with little to no success. The absence of any real statistical data or actual information of what has been accomplished was quite noticeable, the generalities and cliches were abundant, and left Dr. Welch grasping at straws to justify the expense and efforts that have been made. Earlier in the session, a messenger made a motion to ask the executive committee and the SBC to reconsider their relationship with the BWA and I suspect that something may be coming down the pike in short order.
Another surprise relates to another award presentation, this time in recognition of Cooperative Program support. It went to Dr. David Dykes, pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas. Green Acres is the largest single contributing church to the Cooperative Program. What is surprising is that it contributes through the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and doesn’t have ties to the SBTC. The presentation comes from the SBC executive board, which makes it all the more surprising.
Among the motions made yesterday morning was one which asked the SBC to amend its bylaws to eliminate entity or agency heads from running for SBC offices. I didn’t recognize the messenger who made that motion, and where that winds up going will be quite interesting, but it did get a reaction, lots of applause, and plenty of seconds. Apparently, there are quite a few people in the SBC who, in spite of their conservative leanings, see this sort of thing as conflict of interest.
I’ll write more on Hunt, and on Dockery and Page’s addresses later.