Southern Baptists Considering Changing Name

Members of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee have appointed a committee to study the possibility of changing the name of the Southern Baptist Covention.

Below is an excerpt from a press release issued by the Associated Baptist Press:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (ABP) – After 166 years as the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s second-largest religious body could be getting a new name.

SBC President Bryant Wright announced Sept. 19 the appointment of a committee to study whether it is a good idea to change the convention’s name, what a new name might be, legal ramifications and potential cost.

“First, the convention’s name is so regional,” Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., said during the opening session of a two-day meeting of the SBC Executive Committee. “With our focus on church planting, it is challenging in many parts of the country to lead churches to want to be part of a convention with such a regional name. Second, a name change could position us to maximize our effectiveness in reaching North America for Jesus Christ in the 21st century.”

In 2004 then-SBC President Jack Graham made a similar argument when he proposed a committee to study a new name to better reflect the convention’s scope as a national rather than regional body. Messengers at the 2004 annual meeting in Indianapolis debated the idea vigorously before voting 55 percent to 45 percent against a name-change study.

Now, comes the reaction.  Below is an excerpt from a press release issued by the Baptist Press:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — The announcement from Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright of a presidential task force to study the prospect of changing the convention’s name sparked a lively debate during the SBC Executive Committee meeting Sept. 19 in Nashville, Tenn.

Executive Committee member Darrell P. Orman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Stuart, Fla., offered a motion that convention attorneys study the issue for one year “before we take any action” on possibly changing the name. The motion later failed on a 39-20 vote.

I served as a pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention for many years.  To many people, the name Southern Baptist is a badge of honor.  To others, however, the name is a hindrance to the great work Southern Baptists do in the United States and in many nations of the world.

Personally, I am in favor of changing the name.  However, as the two excerpts above show, many Southern Baptists oppose the change.  My view is, that whatever helps the work of Christ should be considered by those making the decision.

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