- (Photo: The Christian Post)
One Southern Baptist who was opposed to his denomination changing its name is relieved to hear that the Southern Baptist Convention may be keeping its name after all.
An SBC task force made the recommendation this week to not make a legal name change but rather add an informal title – "Great Commission Baptists." Under this proposal, a church can choose to identify either as a Southern Baptist, a Great Commission Baptist or both.
Dr. Darrell Orman, member of the SBC Executive Committee, said he was "immensely relieved" at the recommendation.
"I was concerned about the controversy of the name change right now," said Orman in an interview with The Christian Post, adding that after covering many tumultuous issues he "felt like it wasn't a good time for us to introduce another paradigm shift."
"I felt it was a wise and very equitable suggestion they had brought. It seemed like it took care of many things and was gracious to many different areas of life of our convention."
During the process beginning last fall, Orman had been opposed to the effort. He offered a motion to put a moratorium on the task force's efforts of considering a name change so as to "protect the convention" from the controversy.
When the motion failed, Orman "had real apprehension about going to the Executive Committee this time" for he felt that he had "shot all the bullets I had left."
On Sunday evening, the day before the task force report was announced, Orman attended an officers' meeting that included SBC President Bryant Wright and Chairman of the task force Dr. Jimmy Draper.
"I saw the wisdom of Solomon in it that the baby could live. There could be justice all the way around," said Orman, who felt that all sides were effectively considered by the task force.
The SBC task force was created in by Wright, himself being sympathetic to the proposal of changing the name of the denomination.
"I'm very thankful for his support and the great spirit in which he received the recommendation," said Wright in an interview with CP.
"We have always been joined by voluntary cooperation and this resolution simply builds on that voluntary cooperation."
Draper, a Baptist minister with more than 50 years of experience in ministry who chaired the 16-member task force, told CP about the reasons for their recommendation.
"The uncertainties about the legal and financial issues were a factor. But the primary factor was that Southern Baptist is a global brand with enormous equity," Draper explained.
"It identifies our conservative theology, our biblical moral and ethical stands, our biblical views of marriage, missions and evangelism, our strong convictions about sanctity of life and our incredible ministry of disaster relief."
When asked if he believed that "Great Commission Baptist" may eventually replace "Southern Baptist" as the formal name of the denomination, Draper believed that if so it would be through "grassroots" rather than an upper level decision.
"The best way for any meaningful change to take place is from the grassroots. No one knows whether this name would emerge as a favorite and preferred name, but if it did, it would be because the grassroots insisted that it do so," said Draper.