NEW ORLEANS – The descriptor “Great Commission Baptists” was approved by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) by a vote of 53 percent to 46 percent after nearly a half-hour debate June 19 at the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans.
According to results announced Wednesday morning, 4,824 ballots were cast, 2,546 were in favor of the descriptor and 2,232 were not in favor of the descriptor. Forty-six ballots were disallowed. At the time of the vote, 7,831 messengers were registered.
The measure survived some parliamentary maneuvering as a messenger called for tabling the discussion indefinitely and another asked that the convention not consider the issue at all.
Messengers approved the recommendation from the SBC Executive Committee (EC) that “those churches, entities and organizations in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention” which desire to use a descriptor other than “Southern Baptists” to indicate their involvement in the convention consider using Great Commission Baptists.
The phrase, messengers agreed, is commended “as one fully in keeping with our Southern Baptist Convention identity.”
The legal name of the convention will remain “Southern Baptist Convention.”
In February, the Executive Committee approved the recommendation brought by SBC President Bryant Wright who had appointed a task force to advise him on the possibility of changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Based on their advice, Wright brought a recommendation to the EC that the convention keep its name but adopt an informal, non-legal Great Commission Baptists descriptor, to be used by any church that wishes to use it.
Jimmy Draper, chairman of the task force, said the goal from the beginning of the study “was to consider the removal of any barrier to the effective proclamation of the gospel and reaching people for Christ.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is Baptist Press’ assistant editor.)