NASHVILLE – The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has concurred with the spirit of a motion referred from the 2013 SBC annual meeting regarding mental health ministry.
In its Feb. 17-18 meeting in Nashville, the Executive Committee voted to amend an annual ministry report form it solicits from the SBC’s entities to include questions asking appropriate entities what they are doing to assist Southern Baptist churches in equipping and ministering to people with mental health challenges.
The Executive Committee also voted to “continue to seek ways to work in cooperation with SBC entities and others to address the severe challenges imposed by mental illness.”
SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page will name a volunteer advisory body of professionals in the mental health field to advise him on possible ways of better informing Southern Baptists about available mental health service providers and resources, the Executive Committee noted.
The Executive Committee was responding to a motion by Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, at last year’s annual meeting in Houston.
The original motion Floyd introduced asked “that the messengers of the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention … request that the Executive Committee and the Bylaw 14 entities of the Southern Baptist Convention work in cooperation to assist our churches in the challenge of ministry to those suffering from mental health issues, and that each entity in their written annual ministry report inform the messengers what they have done, are doing, and will do annually to assist our churches in equipping and ministering to the people in our churches and communities who suffer with mental health challenges.”
Bylaw 14 of the SBC constitution names as entities the International and North American mission boards, LifeWay Christian Resources, GuideStone Financial Resources, the Ethics & Liberty Commission and the SBC’s six seminaries.
Separate from the motion, messengers to the 2013 SBC annual meeting approved a resolution on “Mental Health Concerns and the Heart of God,” affirming the “immeasurable value to God” of those with mental health concerns, committing to “affirm, support and share God’s love and redemption with those with mental health concerns” and opposing “all stigmatization and prejudice against those who are suffering from mental health concerns.”
The resolution calls for the SBC to support “the wise use of medical intervention for mental health concerns when appropriate” and to “support research and treatment of mental health concerns when undertaken in a manner consistent with a biblical worldview.”
The resolution affirms that “those in Christ cannot be separated from the eternal love of God that is in Christ Jesus” and asks Southern Baptists and their churches “to look for and create opportunities to love and minister to, and develop methods and resources to care for, those who struggle with mental health concerns and their families.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)