The Tennessee Baptist Convention elected Memphis pastor the Rev. Michael Ellis Tuesday to lead the 140-year organization, making him its first African-American leader. The convention's 940 messengers voted unanimously for Ellis during its three-day Summit Gathering of Tennessee Baptists. The Baptist & Reflector, the TBC's news journal, reported that his election was met with a standing ovation.
His election signifies the Southern Baptists' continued commitment to diversity and inclusion. The TBC is the state convention for the nation's largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, which elected its first African-American president, Louisiana pastor Fred Luter, in 2012.
Ellis was nominated by former TBC president Fred Shackelford. Shackelford told the Baptist & Reflector that the Memphis pastor "has proven himself as an excellent leader in our state and is a creative leader who is passionate about reaching the spiritually lost." more >>
The Southern Baptist Convention's lead ethicist, Russell Moore, has said he doesn't allow the couples he marries to write their own vows because he believes the marriage oath should be more than a proclamation of a couple's love, but also a type of pact by which friends and family will hold them accountable.
Answering a question from a podcast listener who plans on writing personalized vows for an upcoming wedding, Moore explained: "In a biblical understanding of marriage the couple is being given to one another, and there is an accountability, a public accountability for the marriage, for the wedding."
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president emphasized that the friends and family gathered at a ceremony are more than guests — they're witnesses. "That's why in the traditional Anglican wedding ceremony we gather 'in the sight of God and these witnesses to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony.'" more >>
Even in his new role as the International Mission Board President for the Southern Baptist Convention, David Platt vowed to continue his preaching ministry by means of a new podcast he launched Monday.
Although his new role will take a lot of his time and attention, Platt said, "I don't have any desire to stop preaching." The Alabama pastor told listeners that he loves studying and teaching the Bible and wants to continue to encourage others through God's word.
Platt plans to continue his preaching ministry with a new podcast called Radical Together. He made it clear in his first broadcast that the focus of his talks will be missionary work and why it is for the entire church, not just for a select few people. more >>
In addressing some of the most challenging questions about homosexuality and marriage, British minister Sam Allberry emphasized that biblical marriage between one man and one woman is a core issue in Christianity, and urged Southern Baptist pastors, teachers and leaders gathered that the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission's 2014 National Conference to boldly preach about it.
"We believe what we believe about homosexuality because we believe what we believe about marriage" said Allberry.
He explained: "One of the purposes of marriage in the Bible is that this union between a man and a woman shows the mystery of Christ and the church. Human marriage is the icon of the relationship Jesus has with His people. But if we now construe marriage as being between a man and a man or a woman and a woman, that picture is disfigured. We're left instead with Christ and Christ or the church and the church. In other words, when you begin to change the biblical definition of marriage, you end up changing something that should be reflecting the Gospel." more >>
While most within the Southern Baptist Convention applauded the opportunity to openly discuss how Christians should respond to the growing cultural and political acceptance of gay marriage during a three-day conference hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, most in the LGBT community tracking the event were not so pleased.
Brandan Robertson, a spokesperson for Evangelicals for Marriage Equality and the director of The Revangelical Movement, attended the the conference in Nashville and told The Christian Post afterwards on Wednesday that although he felt welcome at the conference, a closing talk by Pastor J.D. Greear made him uncomfortable.
As a bit of background about his group, Robertson believes that EME is not compromising Christian beliefs and is instead focused specifically on gay unions receiving the same government recognition and rights as traditional married couples. more >>
Sharing his own story of becoming a Christian as a same-sex attracted man at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission's National Conference Tuesday, Moody Bible Professor Christopher Yuan revealed how Christian parents can best love their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual children and guide them back to the Gospel.
"Parents, love your LGBT or same-sex attracted children and point them to a life of costly discipleship following Jesus," said Yuan. "The Gospel can best be communicated or can only be communicated while in relationship."
Gay marriage proponents following the conference online expressed that some Christian parents are not loving to their homosexual children. A statistic circulated on Twitter stating that about 40 percent of the homeless youth identify as LGBT and have been kicked out of their homes, seemingly pointed out that some Christian parents might be, in fact, rejecting their homosexual children. more >>