PHOENIX — An affirmation of unity and cooperation among
Southern Baptists and new ministry assignments for two Southern Baptist
entities highlighted the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee’s
agenda June 13 in Phoenix.
Pledging to “walk in unity as brothers and sisters in Christ,” Southern Baptist
entity heads, state executives and ethnic fellowship leaders signed an “Affirmation
of Unity and Cooperation” pledge during the meeting.
The document, to be highlighted during the Executive Committee’s June 14 report
to the convention, includes five core “pledges” toward a spirit of unity.
Executive Committee President Frank Page and Southern Baptist Convention
President Bryant Wright also signed it.
The document’s five core pledges are:
- “We pledge to maintain a relationship of mutual trust, behaving ourselves
trustworthily before one another and trusting one another as brothers and
sisters indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. (Ephesians 4:20-32; 2 Peter 1:3-8)
- “We pledge to attribute the highest motives to those engaged in local church
ministries and those engaged in denominational service in any level of
Convention life — motives that originate within hearts truly desiring to serve
the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we also serve. (1 Samuel 2:3; Matthew 7:1-5; 1
- “We pledge to affirm the value of cooperative ministry as the most effective
and efficient means of reaching a lost world with the message of the Gospel.
(Psalm 68:11; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Acts 9:31; 1 Corinthians 16:1-23)
- “We pledge to embrace our brothers and sisters of every ethnicity, race, and
language as equal partners in our collective ministries to engage all people
groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 16:25-27;
- “We pledge to continue to honor and affirm proportional giving through the
Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and
extending our outreach as Southern Baptists, enabling us to work together to
evangelize the lost people of our world locally, regionally, nationally, and
internationally. (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, 20:20-21; Romans 10:14-172
Corinthians 8:1-13; 9:1-15)”
The ministry assignment changes for the International and North American
mission boards reflected “Great Commission Resurgence” recommendations adopted
during the 2010 SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
The International Mission Board (IMB) assignment, which will be brought before
the annual meeting’s messengers June 14 for final approval, has been revised to
allow the IMB to “provide specialized, defined and agreed upon assistance to
the North American Mission Board in assisting churches to reach unreached and
underserved people groups within the United States and Canada.” The current
ministry assignment focuses IMB work outside the U.S. and Canada.
The North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) mission statement and ministry
assignment, which also will be brought to the floor June 14, both have been
completely rewritten. The original mission statement said the entity existed to
proclaim the gospel, start churches, minister to people and assist churches.
The new mission statement refocuses NAMB on partnership with churches, associations
and state conventions in “mobilizing Southern Baptist as a missional force” in
The proposed ministry assignment for NAMB consolidates nine points to six and
rearranges its priorities. Where appointing missionaries was the first assignment,
planting churches now heads the list. A previous ministry assignment on “Christian
social ministries” has been merged into an assignment to assist churches “in
the ministries of evangelism and making disciples.” The assignments of “communicating
the gospel … through communication technologies” and “strengthening … and
providing services to associations” have been eliminated.
The proposed new statement for the International Mission Board was adopted on a
show of hands by Executive Committee members with two negative votes. The North
American Mission Board statement was adopted on a voice vote with one opposing.
The statements must be approved by messengers during the annual meeting before
Executive Committee members also approved recommendations:
- to make a loan of up to $23 million available to Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary for 252 new housing units in its Student Village.
- transferring the national Empowering Kingdom Growth ministry initiative to North
Greenville University in South Carolina.
- expressing appreciation for Kenneth S. Hemphill, national strategist for
Empowering Kingdom Growth, for “outstanding and exemplary leadership” of EKG
and “unflagging devotion to, and exemplary sacrifice in, advancing God’s
Kingdom for His glory.”
- to hold the 2017 annual meeting in Phoenix and the 2018 annual meeting in
- The Executive Committee also unanimously re-elected its current officers: Roger
Spradlin of Bakersfield, Calif., chairman; Ernest Easley of Marietta, Ga., vice
chairman; and Joe Wright of Dyersburg, Tenn., secretary.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is senior writer and assistant editor for Baptist Press.
With reporting by Baptist Press associate editor Michael Foust.)