Tennessee Baptists Opposed to SBC Name Change

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    Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny M. Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., looks out over more than 10,000 messengers to the 2010 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Messengers overwhelmingly voted to adopt the recommendations of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, a major emphasis of Hunt's presidency.
By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
November 17, 2011|6:01 pm

As the Southern Baptist Convention considers changing its name, one state convention has passed a resolution against the idea.

While in session earlier this week, the Tennessee Baptist Convention approved a resolution in opposition to the SBC President Bryan Wright’s consideration of renaming the denomination.

Earlier this year, Wright made an announcement that he would form a 16-member task force to look into the pros and cons of changing the group’s name.

The task force will be chaired by former SBC president Dr. Jimmy Draper, a distinguished Baptist minister with over 50 years of ministry experience.

Wright believes that a major reason for the name change proposal was for the sake of SBC members who live outside of the southern region of America.

 “The major reason for exploring this possibility was knowing the challenge that church planters outside the South face in forming new churches, with the Southern Baptist Convention having such a regional identity,” said Wright in an interview with The Christian Post.

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“Southern Baptists in places like Boston, New York Cheyenne, and Chicago, are difficult to identify with in having such a regional name.”

Wright also said that although he personally supports a name change, he will have the 16 member task force research the matter before presenting anything at next year’s convention in New Orleans.

“I personally think it would be helpful in fulfilling our mission in reaching North America for Christ, but I am looking for the task force to give this a thorough study before any specific recommendation is made,” said Wright.

Dr. Randy C. Davis, executive director-treasurer for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, told The Christian Post that the name though regional in its origin has a greater meaning.

“Bottom line, the majority see the name not as a statement of regional reference, but as a brand that stands for biblical fidelity, caring ministry and effective missions,” maintained Davis.

“[The Resolution] mentions that Southern Baptist Convention is recognized worldwide, that previous SBC have rejected a name change on numerous occasions, there is significant cost, there are unknown costs and consequences.”

Davis said that given the Tennessee Baptist Convention meeting also approved a budget, elected officers without problem, and successfully conducted other business, he considered the resolution “a minor issue.”

“This resolution was a minor issue in the midst of an extremely positive and productive convention,” said Davis.

“We have absolute confidence that Dr. Jimmy Draper, a man of enormous integrity and spiritual depth, will guide the Study Committee to the appropriate recommendation.”

The last time the SBC leadership considered changing the name of the denomination was in 2004 at the request of SBC President Jack Graham.

“Southern Baptists have considered a name change all the way back to 1903,” noted Wright.

“The regional aspect of our name is an issue that has lingered for a long time. But there is no way to predict how Southern Baptists would vote if the proposal to make the name change were presented at the convention.”

The Southern Baptist Convention will hold its nationwide meeting next June in New Orleans. It is likely that the task force will present their recommendations during the convention.

 

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