Reed Bernick, Joe Riojas, and I attended the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California, June 14-15, 2022, as messengers from FBCA. During the two days of business and inspiration, many topics were discussed and processed. From all the transactions, the following four rose to the top of our attention. We compiled the following for your review, and we also remain available for personal conversations. Thank you for your trust and support.
1. Sexual Abuse—Guidepost Solutions, the independent consulting firm hired by the SBC's Executive Committee (EC) in 2021, made two recommendations related to the Sexual Abuse investigations they completed last month. The first was to create a new task force authorized to oversee additional reform in the convention, now that the initial task force's purview had run its course. Second, that a database website be created where sexual abuse allegations against SBC clergy and staff (and only those that have been substantiated by thorough investigations) could be posted as a resource for SBC churches around the country; essentially, making official what the EC leaked one month ago. Both recommendations passed.
2. Abortion—The likely overturning of Roe v. Wade was acknowledged increasingly as the convention entered its second day. There were many motions and questions from the floor regarding the stances and sincerity of individual leaders and there were also many who voiced support for a proposed motion that never made it to a vote: one which would petition law makers to grant equal protection under the law for unborn children. This would mean prison sentences for women who seek abortion, not just abortion providers. Overall, however, these views appeared to be marginal, and the majority seemed to understand them to be extreme. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) presentation centered mostly on the "post Roe world" - announcing a march in Washington around the 50th anniversary of the verdict.
3. Ordaining Women—One of the first items to be considered dealt with a motion made last year, and taken up by the credentials committee, to "disfellowship" Saddleback Church in California. Saddleback has two women ordained as pastors serving on their staff (and is poised to hire the wife of the next Senior Pastor under the title "teaching pastor") – which is considered to violate Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message (BFC) 2000. However, rather than ask the messengers to vote on the motion directly, the credentials committee recommended the formation of a task force to determine, with more clarity, exactly what the BFM intends - and if it is the title "pastor" that is forbidden to women, or the responsibility of "pastor", the spiritual gifts of "pastor", etc. Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, spoke from the floor and urged that the recommendation be denied given that the language of the BFM is clear. In response, Adam Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Seminary, offered an amendment to the credentials committee recommendation suggesting that instead, the SBC create a task force to determine, in detail, the extent to which SBC churches must conform to the BFM (given that the SBC constitution only requires a "close identification"). Greenway's amendment was rejected in a floor vote. The credentials committee withdrew the recommendation and punted the measure until next year’s annual meeting of the SBC in New Orleans.
4. President—Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church Farmersville, Texas, was elected 64th president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Barber received 3,401 votes on a second runoff ballot, garnering 60.87% of the 5,587 total votes cast in the runoff. At the time of the presidential runoff election, 8,098 messengers were registered. Barber, 52, chaired this year’s SBC Committee on Resolutions. Barber served on the executive board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (2008–2014) and as a trustee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (2009–2019), where he also taught as an adjunct professor (2006–2009). Barber told the Christian Index, “The most readily observable ‘drift’ in the Southern Baptist Convention is a drift away from fairness in making accusations and from civility in discussing differences. I would like to lead us to make our fellowship healthier. I want to work as a peacemaker, bringing together people of goodwill who are influential within these families of churches and strengthening the bonds that hold us together. The president of the SBC can, with God’s help, steer us away from creating new divisive controversies and toward resolution of old scandals. By doing so he can eliminate distractions and obstacles that compete with revival for our prayers and affections. That’s my hope … to be the minesweeper clearing the way ahead of the ship of revival.” (from the Baptist Paper)
Back at FBCA—
- 50 youth are at Youth Camp at Refreshing Mountain. 65 children are at CentriKid at Eagle Eyrie. 25 children and teens from Casa Chirilagua are at CitiKidz Camp in Rector, PA. Let’s lift prayer and praise for these. Thanks to Shonica David and her team for their leadership of Youth Camp. Hooray for Kim Eskridge and all involved in CentriKid. And kudos to Jesse McCain for shaping the partnership with Casa Chirilagua that is bearing much fruit in the community.
- In-person weekly worship attendance is currently averaging between 500 and 600 with another 150-200 online. Reach out to friends and neighbors. Bring them to worship with you at FBCA this Sunday. Let’s strengthen our in-person gathering.
- I cannot say enough about the Interim Worship Team: Alydia Wingard, Don Wingard, Carol Mills, along with Deborah Lloyd, Cynthia Marr, the orchestra, and choir who are exceeding all expectations. Perhaps the least recognized part of the worship ministry is the Audio, Visual, and Lighting Team led by Mark Milroy, which is populated by excellent volunteers. They are mostly invisible on a Sunday morning, but they are indispensable.
- Stewardship is vital. Your tithes and offerings are essential to the mission and ministries of FBCA. Thank you for your consistent and generous support.
- Acts 2:17-18 and Galatians 3:28 proclaim the powerful and limitless work of the Holy Spirit. Our Sovereign God can call whomever and use whatever He wills to accomplish His kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.
Thanks for sharing Pastor Wayne. I watched the news during the week that the SBC was meeting and saw some of the difficult conversations that were being held. Thank you for representing us well. Thank you even more for allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you and Pastor Reed and Joe to decisions that follow scripture and God's will.