A committee that determines whether churches are conforming to Southern Baptist Convention affiliation rules will consider whether the prominent Saddleback Church can continue in fellowship with the SBC after church leaders recently ordained three women pastors.
This week, the Southern Baptist Convention is gathering in Nashville, Tennessee for what may be the denomination's most consequential denominational meeting for any Protestant denomination in the last 30 years. But who are Southern Baptists, and why is their vote on a new president and a series of resolutions reverberating so loudly across the entire American religious landscape?
Outgoing Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear opened up the two-day Southern Baptist meeting using a different gavel than the one traditionally used. The traditional gavel was named for John A. Broadus, a founding faculty member of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Broadus was a slaveholder and a believer in white superiority. So, instead of using the Broadus Gavel, Greear used the Judson Gavel, named for the first SBC missionary.
SBC messengers passed a resolution Tuesday that warned of the effects of the Equality Act. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes for public places, education and employment.
Ed Litton, an Alabama pastor and newly-elected President of the SBC, said that Southern Baptists will have to “work out and iron out some of our differences,” adding that he hopes to “build bridges and not walls” and help the denomination “return to the roots of what God has called us to do.”
Last night, SBC messengers elected as president Pastor Ed Litton of Alabama. He was nominated by Fred Luter, the only Black pastor to serve as president of the largest Protestant denomination in the US. Rev. Luter praised Litton’s commitment to racial reconciliation and told messengers that he has dealt compassionately with the issue of sexual abuse within SBC churches as well. We need a leader of such compassion in these difficult times.