NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Thousands of Southern Baptists will gather next week in Nashville for their big annual reunion.
It will be the first significant event in the city since the pandemic killed Nashville’s meeting industry. As of Wednesday, 16,000 messengers, the voting representatives of Southern Baptist churches, had pre-registered for the event.
“There is no denying that our SBC family faces many challenges. Some are real and concerning,” said Ronnie Floyd, Chairman and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. Wednesday electronic bulletin. “For some who may be younger or a little new to our family, I want you to know that when we meet, it’s really not about drama.
Many of the issues that are causing division within the conservative evangelical denomination could come to a head as Southern Baptists gather at the Music City Center. Here are four things that could happen during the gathering:
What to expect:Southern Baptist Convention Divided on Issues Regarding Systemic Racism, Women’s Leadership in Church, and Next President
Who will be the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention?
Southern Baptists disagree on the direction of their Nashville-based denomination.
Some say it has drifted to the left and needs heading correction. Others say the convention is a large, conservative tent with walls, but plenty of room to unite around core beliefs and to disagree on secondary and tertiary issues.
This fight is played out in the election of the next president of the convention.
So far, four men have announced their willingness to be nominated. They are Northwest Baptist Convention Executive Director and Treasurer Randy Adams, Pastor of Alabama Ed Litton, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Pastor of Georgia Mike Stone.
Litton will be appointed by Louisiana pastor Fred Luter Jr., who was the convention’s first black president. Stone has been supported by the Conservative Baptist Network, which calls for a “conservative re-engagement.”
Nominations officially take place on Tuesday and the vote follows.
Will critical race theory stimulate debate?
Critical race theory has been a controversial topic among Southern Baptists, and it could be discussed at the annual meeting.
Critical Race Theory teaches that racism is ingrained in American institutions and that whites benefit from it. Intersectionality examines how a person’s identities, such as race and gender, converge and make them vulnerable to prejudice.
Related story:Church in Georgia kicked out of SBC for allowing gay members to make sure “everyone is welcome”
At least two competing resolutions addressing the subject have been submitted for consideration. Resolutions are non-binding statements.
A submitted resolution is consistent with a controversial statement released last year by the six Southern Baptist seminary presidents declaring critical race theory and intersectionality inconsistent with the Baptist declaration of faith.
The other supports a controversial 2019 resolution that called the two concepts analytical tools that should only be used in reliance on the scriptures.
Could the two leaked letters signed by Russell Moore appear?
Two leaked letters signed by Russell Moore, the convention’s former public policy chief, put the Southern Baptist sexual abuse crisis back in the spotlight.
The letters, obtained by Religion News Service, the Washington Post and a Baptist blog, deal with allegations of sexual abuse against the executive committee, which acts on behalf of the convention when it is not sitting. Specifically, they detail the mistreatment of victims of sexual abuse, the mismanagement of abuse complaints, bullying and more.
They also describe the racism expressed behind closed doors and the mistreatment of African Americans within the convention.
Some members of the executive committee refuted the allegations or disagreed with the recollection of the events detailed therein.
Due to the letters, two Southern Baptist pastors plan to bring in a third party to investigate the allegations against the executive committee, according to a Twitter post.
What about the role of women in ministry?
The role of women in ministry is a long, smoldering debate within the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Southern Baptist Declaration of Faith specifically restricts the office of pastor to men only. It is widely accepted, but some within the convention extend the ban to other ministerial contexts. Since opinions vary across the convention, some Southern Baptist women are criticized for the way they serve in the church.
Two recent events have revived the debate. The first was famous Bible teacher Beth Moore declaring that she was no longer a Southern Baptist. The second concerns one of the largest churches in the convention.
In May, the Saddleback Church in California, home to senior pastor and author Rick Warren, announced that it had ordained its first three female pastors. This decision drew criticism from Southern Baptist leaders.
Follow Holly Meyer on Twitter: @HollyAMeyer.