For the first time in two years, I will miss the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, due to some other schedule conflicts.  I think this year’s convention will make for some interesting observation, if nothing else. 

I would guess that Johnny Hunt will be nominated and re-elected as president, without much in the way of opposition, if there is any.  The brief controversy over the accreditation status of the school from which he received his doctorate was a flash in the pan. 

Perhaps the biggest item of business will be the appointment of a “Great Commission Resurgence” task force to make recommendations regarding the implementation of the GCR.  I would guess that most messengers who attend the SBC these days are aware enough of the issues involved to see the need for doing this, and that a task force will be appointed.  It might get sticky after that, but there appears to be enough support for it now, looking at declining CP revenues and investment income, to at least take a look and see what needs to be done.  I’ve heard things discussed such as the merger of NAMB and the IMB, and a look at the executive board’s growing budget expenditures, and I think those things are worth some consideration. 

I hope the SBC considers the proposed resolution that reflects the points of the Pinckney-Shortt resolution offered in 2004, regarding public school education.  If it passes, there are some structures in place, such as the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, and several home school associations, which could form a task force to make further recommendations.  One of the best things Southern Baptists have going for them today is a system of higher education, with colleges and universities supported by state conventions.  Pulling resources together to make Christian education happen on the elementary, junior high and high school level, and helping those churches which are already involved in this ministry to expand and involve a much wider constituency, would be a good thing. 

Dwight McKissic’s resolution regarding racial reconciliation is excellent.  It is interesting that, though only a small portion of it involves a reference to President Obama, that’s where most reports on it have focused.  It’s a good resolution, and it is the sort of thing that is quite appropriate for the Southern Baptist Convention to be doing.  We have Biblical instructions related to the way we are to approach the civil government.  In America, we also have the privilege of dissent and disagreement, but even though we may disagree with the approach taken by whatever administration has been elected, we are still obligated to support them with both our prayers and our obedience.  It’s part of our testimony.

I can remember, in the past, living in various places where a Southern Baptist Convention meeting wouldn’t make the local news unless it was being held in that particular city, having to wait a day or two, or perhaps even a week, for the state Baptist paper to come out and discover what the SBC had done.  Now, you can log on and watch the sessions on the internet.  Maybe, just maybe, we are not too far from the day when messengers can log on to their computer, enter a credential security code, and participate and vote from their computer keyboard.

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

4 responses

  1. I guess Southern Baptist messengers are free to make a pronouncement or two against public schools. It is what it is. Resolutionary Christianity or Christianity by Resolution. At the end of the day, it’s meaningless.

    No resolution and no denominational effort will convince the average Southern Baptist couple to pull their kids out of the public school system. Like it or not, public schools are rather central in small mostly rural communities throughout the South. Baptists make up a strong majority in these communities. Many Baptists have a deep commitment to their local public school. If you live in Vidalia, you’re a Vidalia Indian. If you live outside the city limits but within the county, you’re a Toombs County Bulldog. This is how it is. Southern Baptists aren’t going to abandon their community – the community and the public school system are in many ways inseparable – for an inferior private Christian school.

    Yea yea, I know some private Christian schools aren’t inferior. In places like Atlanta, it is the private Christian schools that are superior. Not everyone wants (or can) to start paying thousands of dollars in tuition when their kid starts Kindergarten….

    But where I grew up – Middle Georgia, South Georgia, – the private academies were inferior. They’d been around since the late 60s and they were lousy. I suspect the situation in Georgia is not that much different than the situation in most southern states.

    Finally, how many Southern Baptists throughout the South are employed by the public school system as coaches, teachers, and administrators? The church that I grew up in was largely comprised of families with at least one spouse working for the public school system in some form or fashion. Those folks aren’t going to abandon the public school system.

  2. Lee says:

    This is a resolution. Action usually follows, not precedes, resolutions.

    As I mentioned here in a previous blog, Southern Baptists must give strong consideration to two particular points regarding the establishment and development of church based Christian day school education. First, the schools must be universally affordable and accessible. They cannot be tuition driven. It is amazing that Christian schools, even those operated by Southern Baptist churches or groups, have grown as much as they have in the last two decades, considering the financial sacrifices that have to be made by the parents who send their children. I can’t even begin to imagine how many more children would be enrolled at this point if alternative funding had been secured. At all three Christian schools where I worked for over 15 years, we filled every scholarship and reduced tuition spot available, and could have doubled our enrolment if the money had been available.

    The second consideration is being open to alternate methods of educating students. University model schools are popping up because they are much less expensive to operate, involve the students spending a large amount of time with their parents in the educational process, and the combination of those two things is producing superior academic results. Our church is in its third year of operating a cooperative for home school families, teaching P.E., Art, Music, Drama, and some upper level high school math and science courses one day a week, and it operates at capacity.

    There may be a lot of Southern Baptists involved in public schools across the Deep South, though I suspect the number is probably not as great as it might seem, given that membership numbers in the SBC are somewhat inflated and actual church involvement is about 40% of what is reported as total membership, but that doesn’t change the fact that course objectives in public schools are dictated by politicians, and the basic philosophy of education has been sanitized of the facts of both Christian influence, and operates under a philosophy that is, at the very least, completely secular and is, in some cases, hostile to Christian teaching and belief. The basic foundation of public school education is antithetical to the idea that God is the creator of the universe. If you can’t develop course objectives with that truth in mind, then you are presenting a view that is the antithesis of Christian faith.

  3. Jack Matthews says:

    I’d take issue with a couple of statements from Big Daddy Weave. based on my own observations from just a tad bit north of the Georgia line, in Tennessee. First, Baptists are no longer what I would call a “strong majority” even in the rural areas and small communities. Many of those small town and rural churches are congregations of the elderly, with few children among them. And second, it is not just the Baptists who are addressing the issues related to the content and quality of public school instruction. In fact, the Southern Baptists are a bit behind the Independent Baptists, Charismatics, Pentecostals and Churches of Christ, among others, in pointing out that many of the curriculum objectives in the state mandated curriculum are inconsistent with Christian faith and belief.

    We have found the quality of academics in Christian operated schools to be far superior than those in public school systems, simply because Christian schools stick to the basics, are not required to “experiment” with unproven educational theory, and do not have to teach all kinds of social dogma or take responsibility for teaching things that parents should be teaching at home. The bottom line for most parents is the content, and that will outweigh community “loyalty” once people realize exactly what is being taught. Many of those Southern Baptists who work in the public schools are the ones who are uncovering the non-Christian elements of the curriculum, and letting parents know about them. I would agree that a resolution or denominational initiative isn’t going to achieve the goal of convincing every Southern Baptist to remove their kids from public school, but it will make many of them aware of the need to be more involved with regard to their school board and their state board of education.

  4. JoAnn says:

    Big Daddy,
    I am sorry the Christian schools you have been associated with have been as you said “lousy.” You are really putting all Christian schools in one basket–BAD! That would not be the truth in our area of Houston. I teach at one of those. I have seen it from the inside. As far as our curriculum, we are way above the state objecives and continue to refine it every year. We as Christian school educators/churches do need a plan to help the avg Christian family be able to send their child/(ren) to our schools. It takes lots of money to run a school that gets no federal funding.

    Above and beyond the academics, the spiritual training and knowledge they receive is amazing. I know you are saying that most church families do that at home. You are right to some degree with some families. Even if they do, can you honestly say that teaching children the Bible 5 days a week is a bad thing? I think not. That is training for LIFE in the big world when they get out there so they can defend their faith. I think that is important to do while they are young like Proverbs says. Because that kind of training can’t begin when you are older.