BIRMINGHAM, AL (BP) – Keeping the focus on the "Gospel Above All" theme is Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear's main goal going into SBC's annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala., June 11-12.
But following a year of transition among five SBC entities searching for new leadership and the convention responding to reports of sexual abuse, Greear noted there will be other issues demanding attention.
He acknowledged that confronting sexual abuse is among them.
"I look forward to seeing our convention continue in the unqualified declaration that we abhor abuse of any kind," said Greear, who is spearheading a Sexual Abuse Presidential Advisory Study. "We will demonstrate this conviction with new processes -- informed by Christian counselors, victims and victim advocates -- that ensure not only that our churches and institutions are safe, but also that those who have been hurt experience the healing love of Christ."
Southern Baptists, Greear noted, should not lose sight of "the only thing that can unite us and move us in mission -- the Gospel." He also will be promoting the "Who's Your One?" evangelism campaign in partnership with the North American Mission Board. See related Baptist Press story.
"Churches all across the nation have already gotten involved," he said of the campaign, "asking every church member to identify one person in their lives that they can pray for, share the Gospel with, and invite to church. I'm excited to share stories and pray over these efforts at our annual meeting."
Other personal meeting highlights, Greear said, will include the International Mission Board's Sending Celebration, Crossover and a more streamlined program that will forgo any evening sessions. The meeting will also feature three panel discussions: "Undivided: Your Church and Racial Reconciliation;" "Gospel Above All: Keeping Secondary Issues Secondary;" and "Indispensable Partners: The Value of Women in God's Mission."
Ronnie Floyd, president-elect of the Executive Committee, also is looking forward to the meeting and helping lead Southern Baptists to tighten their focus on the Gospel.
"While I have been involved at every level of Southern Baptist life," he said, "it will definitely be a great privilege to be there in my new role.
"I look forward to speaking to our Southern Baptist Convention about reaching the world for Jesus Christ," he said. "I believe the time is now to prioritize, elevate and accelerate our pace to present the Gospel to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.
"I expect the Lord to bring us together around our mission of reaching the world for Christ ... I believe we will put the Gospel above all!"
This year's Crossover evangelism initiative is set to engage more than 20,000 homes with the Gospel. See related story. The North American Mission Board will partner with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions to mobilize 400 teams of volunteers to knock on doors in the metro Birmingham area.
"This year we have a really simplified approach that will help us make as big of a concentrated push as we can make in one day," Joel Southerland of NAMB's evangelism team said in a Baptist Press article. "We already have student pastors bringing students, and pastors who are bringing van loads of volunteers, because it can all be done in one day."
The last two years, the focus of Crossover has been on evangelistic crusade events led by Southern Baptist associations and Harvest America. Last year's event in Dallas drew tens of thousands with more than 100,000 watching online, Baptist Press reported. Crossover coordinators also reported 4,229 people came to faith in Christ. This includes decisions for Christ at the crusade, online and through door-to-door and street evangelism.
Greear will be nominated by Pennsylvania pastor K. Marshall Williams for a second term, according to an April announcement. Greear is currently unopposed. See related Baptist Press story.
The "SBC Annual Meetings" mobile app is now live. The app will include a listing of speakers for the SBC Pastors' Conference and SBC annual meeting as well as the daily program schedule, daily events, exhibitor listing, convention center maps, interactive map of the exhibit hall, 2019 Book of Reports and more. Download the app on your mobile device by accessing the App Store, Google Play or by visiting app.core-apps.com/sbc_am2019. Daily updates will be made to the app leading up to the SBC annual meeting.
Attendees also can follow on Twitter @SBCMeeting, @BaptistPress, @SBCLife, @SBCCP, @SBCPastorsConf and @EC_SBC for the latest annual meeting updates. Many social media users will employ the hashtag #SBC19 and #SBCPC19 in their posts about the annual meeting and the pastors' conference.
Sex abuse panel
Prior to the SBC meeting, on Monday, June 10, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission will co-host with the Sexual Abuse Presidential Advisory Study a public conversation at 9 p.m. Greear initiated the study last year and is working with the ERLC to help congregations prevent sex abuse and minister to survivors of such abuse. The June 10 conversation, "Sexual Abuse and the Southern Baptist Convention," will be at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.
Messengers gathering in Birmingham will consider a variety of recommendations during the annual meeting. Among them:
-- a recommendation of an amendment to the SBC Constitution stating churches are not "in friendly cooperation with the Convention" if they "have evidenced indifference in addressing sexual abuse." To take effect, the amendment would need two-thirds approval at both the 2019 and 2020 SBC annual meetings.
-- a recommendation of an SBC constitutional amendment specifying racial discrimination as a basis to disfellowship a church. The proposed amendment on racial discrimination would add a section to Article III of the SBC Constitution specifying a cooperating church as one that "has not acted to affirm, approve, or endorse discriminatory behavior on the basis of ethnicity."
For more information, read related BP story.
-- Women attending the SBC's annual meeting in Birmingham are invited to an SBC Women's Session, a Ministers' Wives Luncheon, and a women's expo at the Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex.
This year, all women across the SBC are invited to participate in a "Women's Session" at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 10, during the SBC Pastors' Conference. The three-hour event, which replaces the former Pastors' Wives Conference, will feature the newly launched SBC Women's Leadership Network (WLN). The event is "a collaborative community of women from the Southern Baptist Convention family who long to lead in diverse ways to significantly impact the Kingdom of God," according to the sbcwomen.net website. The event is free and no registration is required.
Tickets for the Ministers' Wives Luncheon, which is open to all wives of pastors, church staff members, chaplains, missionaries and denominational workers, are $20/person and can be purchased online at https://www.lifeway.com/en/events/ministers-wives-luncheon.
-- The IMB will host a missionary "Sending Celebration" Tuesday afternoon, June 11, during the SBC meeting. Attendees will hear testimonies from current IMB missionaries, as well as new missionary appointees.
-- NAMB will host its annual Send Luncheon in the concert hall at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex at 11:45 a.m. on Monday, June 10. Attendance is free, but registration is required. Visit namb.net/events/send-luncheon-2019 for more information.
-- Attendees of this year's Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference will hear personal testimonies from speakers on living out "Kingdom character," the theme of this year's event. Conference preachers will examine the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, while focusing on a Scripture exemplified in their own life, said Pastors' Conference President Danny Wood. The event will convene June 9-10.
-- Prior to the WMU Missions Celebration, Woman's Missionary Union will host an "Acteens for Life" dinner at its national WMU facility on Friday, June 7, at 6 p.m. The event will mark 50 years of lives changed through Acteens. The gathering is for all women whose lives have been impacted through Acteens in their teenage years, as well as current and former leaders of Acteens. Visit wmu.com/ActeensforLife for more information. Registration is required; the cost is $30.
-- The Cooperative Program Stage and Platform once again will be located between the IMB and NAMB booths in the exhibit hall. The panels will include newly elected presidents of three SBC entities -- Ronnie Floyd, SBC Executive Committee; Adam Greenway, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Paul Chitwood, IMB. Each will share their vision for the future of these organizations. Panel discussions also will touch on topics such as church planting, Send Relief, adoption and foster care, and other Southern Baptist ministries across North America and around the globe.
The panels will be held Monday through Wednesday throughout the day, beginning at 8:30 a.m. A complete schedule will be available on the SBC mobile app, in the SBC Bulletin and at talkCP.com.
Register online at sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc19 under the Messengers tab. NOTE: messengers, exhibitors and invited guests need to be registered and properly badged for entrance into the general sessions June 11-12.
After completing online registration, each individual will receive an eight-digit registration code to present at the annual meeting's express registration lane. There, the registration code can be entered into a computer and a nametag will be printed.
Messengers planning to propose resolutions must submit them no later than 15 days prior to the annual meeting. Detailed guidelines on submitting resolutions are available at sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc19 under the Messengers tab. Resolutions may be submitted online but must be followed up by a letter of credentials from the submitter's church.
Children & students
Child care is available for infants through age 12 during the SBC Pastors' Conference June 9-10 and the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 11-12 and for grades 7-12 during the annual meeting June 11-12. All activities for children/youth will be housed at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.
Please note there will be no on-site registration for the children's and youth programs. See related information.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shawn Hendricks is editor of Baptist Press. With reporting from Baptist Press staff and Southern Baptist Convention coverage team reports.