Church membership, 5 other resolutions passed
Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008
By Tom Strode
INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Messengers to the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention passed six resolutions in the June 11 morning session, including one urging the maintenance of a "regenerate membership" and the restoration of "wayward members" by churches.
Three resolutions remained to be considered during the evening session. The time for the Resolutions Committee's morning report expired before it could present resolutions on the California Supreme Court's recent ruling permitting same-sex "marriage," Planned Parenthood and the 100th anniversary of Royal Ambassadors.
The resolution on church discipline passed by an overwhelming margin, and the other five statements received unanimous or nearly unanimous votes. Those five resolutions:
-- expressed thanksgiving for the growing ethnic diversity in the SBC and urged "balanced representation" of ethnicities on the convention's boards and in its entities.
-- called for Southern Baptists and other Christians to participate in the political and public policy process, while avoiding the politicization of the church.
-- urged Southern Baptists and other Christians to "resist the march of secularism" and to seek to influence businesses and other institutions to return Christmas to "its proper place in the culture."
-- celebrated the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel and encouraged prayers in its behalf.
-- offered thanks for the work of Southern Baptists in Indiana and others who assisted with this year's meeting.
All resolutions express the views of the messengers at an annual meeting but are not binding on churches and the entities of the SBC.
The resolution on church membership and restoration was the only one in the morning session to be addressed from the floor. Messengers approved two amendments that added to the content of the amendment.
The amended version approved by messengers addressed the disparity between the SBC's annual report, which shows more than 16 million members in convention-affiliated churches and an average attendance of about 6 million. The resolution called for repentance for failure to practice church discipline and urged churches to keep their membership rolls accurate, to proclaim the "necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ's lordship for all members" and to seek to restore unfaithful members.
The resolution encouraging participation in voting and influencing government policies called for Christian leaders to weigh the possible problems of "politicizing the church and the pulpit before endorsing candidates." It also called for prayer for personal and national revival and "cultural renewal," urging Southern Baptists to take part in the 40/40 Prayer Vigil, an initiative of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and the North American Mission Board.
The statement on secularism and the use of Christmas came in response to the recent practice by some businesses, public schools and other entities of substituting secular terms for Christmas.
A total of 24 resolutions were submitted to the committee before the convention. Among those not reported to the convention by the committee were resolutions on indoctrinating students in "sexual deviancy" in California's public schools, the ministry of women and protection of free speech in the SBC.
The chairman of the Resolutions Committee is Darrell Orman, pastor of First Baptist Church, Stuart, Fla.
The other members of the committee are Tony Beam, member of Northwood Baptist Church, Greer, S.C., and vice president for student services and Christian worldview at North Greenville University; Galen Jones, member of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, Ala., and an African American church planting strategist as an appointee of NAMB and the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions; Rick Lineberger, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bradenton, Fla.; Michael Martin, member of The Quest, a Southern Baptist church in Novato, Calif., and vice president for academic affairs and professor of New Testament studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary; Jeff Moore, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Altus, Okla.; Frank Moreno, member of First Hispanic Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., and director of the Florida Baptist Convention's language division; Kevin Smith, pastor of Watson Memorial Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., and assistant professor of church history at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Charles Strickland, senior pastor of Whitefield Baptist Church, Belton, S.C.; and Greg Thornbury, member of Englewood Baptist Church, Jackson, Tenn., and dean of Union University's school of Christian studies.
Tom Strode is Baptist Press' Washington bureau chief.
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