When Southern Baptists depart St. Louis after their annual meeting in June, says Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president Ronnie Floyd, he will be praying they do so with a “deep burden for our nation, a new commitment to racial unity and an extraordinary commitment to evangelize America.”
With the theme of this year’s June 14-15 gathering being “Awaken America: Reach the World – Agree, Unite, Pray,” Floyd continues to point to passionate prayer as a critical tool for a “nationwide and global spiritual awakening.”
“I pray that our SBC messengers encounter the living God through moments of worship, preaching, challenge and prayer,” Floyd said.
For the second year, Floyd will lead a Tuesday evening session devoted to prayer. “A National Call to Prayer for Spiritual Leadership” will feature a diverse group of Southern Baptist leaders and pastors with special guests Keith and Kristyn Getty. Floyd has also invited African American pastor Jerry Young, who is president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., to participate in the evening session. Young also will be among the speakers at a special session, “A National Conversation on Racial Unity in America,” that will take place that morning.
Floyd described St. Louis as “one of America’s significant cities.”
“With the racial unrest in St. Louis due to what happened in Ferguson in August of 2014, Southern Baptists will have a strong opportunity to represent Christ through Crossover ministry in the city,” Floyd said of the annual evangelism outreach event that takes place each year in the annual meeting’s host city. They also have an opportunity to “speak to the racial challenges that face not only St. Louis, but our entire nation.”
He noted, “I believe we will leave St. Louis with a powerful, strong, clear and encouraging testimony of the need for loving one another, regardless of the color of one’s skin.”
As Floyd wraps up his second and final term as SBC president in June, messengers will elect a new leader. At least three candidates are expected to be nominated for SBC president: North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear, Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines and Louisiana pastor David Crosby.
Florida pastor Jimmy Scroggins announced in March 2 that Greear will be nominated for president.
Scroggins noted, for 14 years Greear has pastored The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. During that time, worship attendance has grown from 350 to just under 10,000, Scroggins said. Total baptisms increased from 19 in 2002 to 928 in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available through the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Greear served two years with the International Mission Board before being called to The Summit.
Former SBC President Johnny Hunt announced a week later that Gaines will be nominated for SBC president.
During the 11 years Gaines has pastored the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., the congregation has averaged 481 baptisms per year, according to the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Previously, he pastored churches in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas. See full story.
Former SBC President Fred Luter announced later that Crosby will also be nominated as SBC president.
Crosby has pastored First Baptist Church in New Orleans for the past 20 years. The congregation has averaged 658 in worship and 24 baptisms annually over the past five years, according to ACP. Crosby has served a variety of leadership roles at the association, state convention and SBC levels.
Crossover St. Louis
During this year’s Crossover evangelism outreach leading up to the annual meeting in St. Louis, an estimated 3,500 Southern Baptist volunteers are expected to converge on the metropolitan area June 11.
Along the I-70 corridor through Missouri’s largest city are neighborhoods unreached with the gospel, Jim Breeden, St. Louis Metro Baptist Association’s (SLMBA) executive director, said. “We have 12 unreached areas of St. Louis that don’t have a Southern Baptist church within a three-to-five-mile radius,” he said. “Visitors driving on the I-70 corridor will pass some of the darkest and most dangerous areas of our city.”
During Crossover, volunteer teams will visit five of those unreached areas to share the gospel. SLMBA hopes to recruit church planters long-term via the evangelism outreach, Breeden said.
Four more area associations among the St. Louis metro area’s 2.73 million residents are also planning Crossover events: Jefferson, Franklin and Two Rivers associations in Missouri, plus Metro East in Illinois.
Churches taking teams to St. Louis can download a distance partner form at crossoverstlouis.com, or contact Tom Firasek, SLMBA’s ministry and partnership coordinator, at (214) 225-1948 or [email protected].
Messengers gathering in St. Louis will consider a variety of recommendations during the annual meeting. See related story that includes those approved by the SBC Executive Committee during its meeting Feb. 22-23. Among them:
a recommendation amending SBC Bylaw 26 regarding questions to SBC entity leaders from the floor during the annual meeting. The recommendation is intended to provide consistency in the time allotted for messengers to ask questions. The EC will present the recommendation to messengers during the SBC’s meeting.
a one-time transfer of funds from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to the International Mission Board to assist IMB personnel leaving the board during its “organizational reset.”
a new name for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. If messengers give approval to the name change, the new name will be Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. To take effect, the bylaw amendment, which was approved during last year’s annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, must be approved again by messengers in St. Louis.
Available April 22, messengers to the annual meeting once again can stay updated by using the “SBC Annual Meetings” mobile application. The app includes a listing of speakers for the SBC Pastors’ Conference and SBC annual meeting, as well as the daily program schedule, daily events, exhibitor listing, convention center maps, 2016 Book of Reports and more. Download the app on your mobile device by accessing the App Store, Google Play, or by visiting m.coreapps.com/sbc_am2016.
Messengers can also follow on Twitter @SBCMeeting, @BaptistPress, @SBCLife, @sbccp and @SBCPastorsconf for the latest annual meeting updates.
With the theme “Live This!” the June 12-13 Pastors’ Conference will welcome pastors and their wives for a two-day event of preaching, worship and prayer at the convention center.
Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference president John Meador said pastors need to heed Scripture’s call to “do the work of an evangelist.” The Pastors’ Conference is free and requires no registration. Among this year’s scheduled speakers: International Mission Board president David Platt, LifeWay Research executive director Ed Stetzer and pastors Greg Laurie, Jack Graham, James MacDonald, Byron McWilliams, Noah Oldham and Jimmy Scroggins. To learn more about this year’s schedule, sponsors and theme, visit sbcpc.net. This year’s preferred Twitter hashtag will be #LIVETHIS.
The SBC annual meeting will feature a joint “Sending Celebration” as the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board celebrate overseas missionaries and North American church planters, along with their sending churches, as they answer God’s call to plant churches and make disciples in the U.S. and around the world. The Sending Celebration, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, June 15, at America’s Center in St. Louis, will display how God has a place for every church – and every Christian – to be on mission with Him, for His glory.
The North American Mission Board will officially launch Send Relief during the Send Luncheon held at noon on June 13 at The Dome at America’s Center. Luncheon attendees will hear stories of how churches throughout North America are meeting needs as they engage their communities with the Gospel. NAMB will provide ways to help equip churches to more effectively do the same thing in their community.
The free luncheon is available to everyone, but tickets are required. To obtain a free ticket for the event, visit www.namb.net/sendluncheon. SBC attendees can also learn how their churches can become more involved in church planting.
Anita Renfroe, a popular Christian comedian and communicator, will be the keynote speaker of two of three events for ministers’ wives attending the annual meeting. The trio of women’s events, based on the theme, “Be Encouraged,” will include a Pastors’ Wives Conference, a Ministers’ Wives Luncheon and a Women’s Expo. The Pastors’ Wives Conference, held during the morning session of the Pastors’ Conference on Monday, June 13, from 9-11:30 a.m., will feature teaching sessions as well as table discussions.
Renfroe will lead during the annual luncheon, which will take place on June 14, from noon to 1:30 p.m., also in the Marriott St. Louis Grand-Majestic Ballroom.
GuideStone Financial Resources will once again offer its Wellness Center during the Pastors’ Conference and the Southern Baptist Convention, June 13–15. Messengers can visit the exhibit hall during operating hours to take advantage of the Wellness Center’s free services, valued at up to $150.
GuideStone employees also will be available to answer participants’ retirement, investment and insurance questions. Three different seminars will be offered, focusing on retirement benefits, health care reform and younger participants getting started with retirement saving. A representative of the Social Security Administration will also be available to answer questions about Social Security benefits, both for ministers and non-ministers.
Register online at sbcannualmeeting.net under the Messengers/Guests tab. NOTE: To help ensure the orderly flow of attendees and enhance security of the convention hall, this year each messenger, exhibitor and guest will need to be registered and properly badged for entrance into the general sessions June 14-15.
After completing online registration, each individual will receive an eight-digit registration code to present at the annual meeting’s express registration lane. There, the registration code can be entered into a computer and a nametag will be printed.
Messengers planning to propose resolutions must submit them no later than 15 days prior to the annual meeting. Detailed guidelines on submitting resolutions are available at sbcannualmeeting.net under the Messengers/Guests tab. Resolutions may be submitted online but must be followed up by a letter of credentials from the submitter’s church.
Children & students
Registration is open for preschool child care, Giant Cow Children’s Ministries, Children in Action Missions Camp and Youth on Mission in conjunction with annual meeting.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief child care volunteers will care for preschoolers; Giant Cow Children’s Ministries will lead the 5- to 12-year-olds, and Woman’s Missionary Union will guide Youth on Mission curricula and activities.
All activities for children and youth will be housed at America’s Center, the annual meeting site. Youth who have completed grades 7-12 will begin their days at the convention center with worship before going into the community for hands-on mission projects.
Pre-registration is required and is available online at sbcannualmeeting.net under the “children/youth” tab, with a deadline of May 6 or whenever the space limitation of 120 children is reached. Registrations will not be taken on site.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shawn Hendricks, managing editor/director of operations of Baptist Press, compiled this story with help from previous Baptist Press reports and submitted material.)