A desire for racial reconciliation is on the minds of Southern Baptists across the U.S. as 10 state convention adopted resolutions decrying racism of any form. Other states have addressed the concern in previous years, though tensions in recent years likely motivated a return to the subject this fall.
With the exception of New England Baptists, state conventions where messengers passed resolutions on racism were in the South and Southwest, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.
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A “Resolution on the Evils of Racism” drafted by a committee for Baptist Convention of New England (BCNE) messengers stated the desire of BCNE churches for “progress in rooting out any remaining forms of intentional or unintentional racism in our midst” while praying that those who advocate or subscribe to racist ideologies will repent and come to know the love of Christ.
Known as a denomination that is pro-life, state conventions frequently address sanctity of life issues. This year Missouri Baptists expressed gratitude for pro-life legislation while Alabama Baptists lent support for a statewide constitutional amendment referendum next year to guarantee the right of the sanctity of human life. Alabama and Louisiana messengers spoke to pro-family issues as well.
Northwest Baptists resolved to be vigilant in opposing human trafficking in their communities and the nation in the context of a resolution declaring the value of all human life. Oklahoma Baptists specifically decried and rejected “the alarming trend that suggests babies diagnosed with genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, should be aborted,” urging churches to “stand with and speak up for people – born and unborn – who may have disabilities.”
Messengers in three state conventions – Alabama, Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) – thanked Congress for retaining the federal adoption credit. Missouri Baptists encouraged churches to endorse adoption and orphan care while Oklahoma Baptists applauded the 500-plus churches participating in their children’s home initiative relating to foster care.
Religious liberty also remains a matter that Southern Baptists uphold, and this year messengers in Alabama, Missouri and the Baptist General Convention of Texas addressed the concern, with Alabama Baptists objecting to a Birmingham nondiscrimination ordinance for “creating an unconstitutional burden on religious freedom for churches, ministries and religious entities” as well as individuals and businesses.
Both Texas conventions, BGCT and SBTC, passed resolutions condemning sexual harassment, while both Arkansas and BGCT referenced current divisions in America and encouraged civil discourse.
In the days following the church shooting at Sutherland Springs, Texas, many of the state conventions holding meetings after Nov. 5 devoted time for prayer for victims and passed resolutions expressing sympathy to families. Kentucky Baptists encouraged intercessory prayer on behalf of “a people who desperately need God’s intervention” in light of “cataclysmic storms, mass shootings, daily violence in cities across the land, heartache caused by an epidemic of substance abuse and other factors that have brought pain and suffering for people of all ages, including helpless children.”
Messengers in Arkansas, North Carolina and the SBTC addressed aspects of human sexuality or gender identity in their resolutions. New York Baptists amended the convention’s constitution to affirm the biblical definitions of marriage and gender.
A number of anniversaries were remembered by way of resolutions, with Louisiana Baptists noting the 100th anniversary of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary as well as the 50th anniversary of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief ministry, Mississippi and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and Oklahoma Baptists noting the 100th anniversary of their Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center.
Hawaii Baptists, in a resolution encouraging participation in cooperative ministries, giving through Cooperative Program and filing the annual statistical report with the convention, said churches “that do not cooperate in some way beyond merely” declaring their intention to cooperate and aligning theologically with the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention (HPBC) “are falling short of their duty as members of the HPBC … and are not fully embracing one of the key tenets of Southern Baptist life, which is cooperation.”
Fourteen of the state Baptist conventions did not pass any resolutions other than those expressing gratitude for particular people or host churches.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tammi Reed Ledbetter is associate editor for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, texanonline.net, news journal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)