CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island, Canada — Messengers to the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists annual convention overwhelmingly voted to change the convention’s name to the Canadian National Baptist Convention, culminating a process that began four years ago.
Messengers also approved a church-to-church covenant which Jeff Christopherson, outgoing convention president, said defines the “substance” of where Canadian Southern Baptists are heading.
A total of 136 messengers, along with 148 guests, registered for the June 30-July 2 convention at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
In balloting on the new name, 86 percent voted in favor of the change; 14 percent against.
“We’re still Southern Baptists, that did not change,” said Gerry Taillon, CNBC national ministry leader.
“Our relationships with Southern Baptist churches, associations and agencies are just as solid as ever.”
In an interview following the convention, Taillon said the change was needed to establish the Canadian convention’s identity, noting, “It was necessary to clear up confusion with the uninitiated who come to all the wrong ideas of who we are.”
Taillon told the messengers that each of the four words in the new name holds significance:
- Canadian as the identity for the convention.
- National as the scope for the convention’s churches across Canada.
- Baptist as the convention’s heritage and belief system.
- Convention as how the organization works together.
The convention’s new name in French — Canada’s official languages are English and French — will have the same CNBC acronym: Convention Nationale Baptiste Canadienne.
The proposed change did cause discussion prior to the vote.
Shan An, pastor of Dixie Baptist Church in Toronto, said he would go along with the final decision, but he thought the Southern Baptist name was valuable. In addition, he described the word national as “outdated.”
“There is nothing wrong with CCSB,” An said. “It is what we heard for 20 years.”
In support of the new name, however, Dwayne Bartley, pastor of Cambrian Heights Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta, said he thought national is a “very good Canadian word” and name changes have biblical precedent.
“There were times when someone changed their identity when God was getting ready to do a new thing in their life,” Bartley said.