It was a very memorable week in St. Louis for the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. This week’s Doyle’s Half Dozen looks back at who were the winners and the losers of the national event. Five topics will feature the winners, and the final topic with capsulize the losers. Here we go!
- Biggest winner: Southern Baptist Convention
The entire experience in St. Louis was a great success for everyone involved with the largest protestant denomination in the world. Beginning with Crossover St. Louis last Saturday, June 11, which experienced 556 people making professions of faith, through the final day of the convention on Wednesday, June 15, which featured an amazing demonstration of unity involving the SBC presidential election.
More than 7,300 messengers attended with more than 11,000 total in attendance, making this one of the better draws in recent years of the SBC. The annual meeting featured moments of patriotism, demonstrations of racial reconciliation, an evening of prayer for spiritual awakening, support for religious liberty and a greater challenge to evangelize and promote the Gospel.
- Ronnie Floyd
The outgoing SBC president made his presence known throughout the event. Ronnie Floyd was instrumental in the many positives that occurred. With this many Southern Baptists in one setting, it’s obvious there would be confusion and conflict, and Floyd handled all of those tense moments extremely well. He will go down as one of the greater SBC presidents due to the organization of the meetings’ programming and the spirit of unity that resulted.
- J.D. Greear
Of course, Steve Gaines won the SBC presidential election, but J.D. Greear comes out of this experience as a shining knight. If you don’t know what happened, there was a runoff situation after the first election between Gaines, Greear and Louisiana pastor David Crosby. After the second election between Gaines and Greear, it was announced that Gaines had more votes, but he did not receive the 50 percent, plus 1 that was required to win the election because there were 108 miscast ballots (using wrong ballot, marking it wrong, etc).
A third election was scheduled the next day, Wednesday, but in the morning session, an announcement was made that Greear resigned from the election, and the North Carolina pastor publicly requested for all messengers to support Gaines. The move was magnificent and brought forth the unifying spirit that would not have been present had the third election occurred, especially since the voting results yielded such narrow outcomes.
Gaines handled the situation in fine fashion too, and I was pleased to hear the Tennessee pastor give gracious remarks during his press conference.
Honestly, though, Greear won the day, and if it is meant to be for him to run in two years, I guarantee him winning the presidency.
If only the U.S. presidential election could glean from the SBC presidential election experience.
- James Merritt
Former SBC president from Ga., James Merritt gave a stirring speech in support of a resolution to discontinue displaying the Confederate battle flag in public settings. The response was rousing cheers throughout the conference center.
You can watch his speech here
- Jerry Young
A strong effort was made during the sessions of racial reconciliation. Floyd emphasized it during his address. He also moderated a panel discussion on racial reconciliation, and Floyd invited Young, the president of the African American National Baptist Convention, USA to be a part of the panel and to participate in the Tuesday evening prayer meeting.
Young gave much praise to the SBC, saying the wall of racism is “already down.” He also encouraged SBC churches to dispel racism by sharing the Gospel to all races.
- Losers of the SBC meeting
The list of losers include:
- Confederate Battle Flag enthusiasts – there are a select few who have a misunderstanding of how to value heritage, especially in light of crossing barriers for the sake of sharing the Gospel.
- SBC voting ballots – I mentioned there were 108 “illegal” ballots after the second presidential election. I admit I’m an onlooker, but there needs to be an investigation why THAT many voters could mess up filling out a ballot correctly and how the system could be improved.
- St. Louis Cardinals game attendees – many SBCers attended the Astros-Cardinals game the night after the final session on Wednesday and sat in incredibly humid conditions. Not only did the Cards lose, but so did everybody who sat in that muggy environment. The best part for me was hanging out near the concession stands, away from the game, eating a burger and talking with Oklahoma Baptists.
- The Russell Moore questioner – a gentleman from Arkansas requested to address Moore after the ERLC president gave his report. I knew from the get-go this guy was going to be in trouble when he started his question with “How in the world…” I knew right then this guy was setting himself up to look really bad, and he proved himself to be unread of Moore’s public remarks on religious liberty. This was one of my favorite moments of the SBC meeting. You can watch the questioning with Moore’s response here: