SBC promotes family, 'kingdom' focus
June 14 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

SBC promotes family, 'kingdom' focus | Friday, June 14, 2002

Friday, June 14, 2002

SBC promotes family, 'kingdom' focus

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

ST. LOUIS - Messengers to the 145th session of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) elected new officers and heard about two major new initiatives during the 2002 meeting June 11-12 in St. Louis, Missouri.

The total registration of 9,608 messengers was far less than the 25,607 who registered when the Convention last met in St. Louis in 1987.

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church near Dallas, Texas, was elected Convention president. Paul Pressler of Houston, widely known as a leading architect of the conservative rise to power of the SBC, was elected first vice president. Neither Graham nor Pressler were opposed.

E. W. McCall, Sr. was elected second vice-president. McCall, pastor of St. Stephens Baptist Church in La Puenta, Calif., defeated Ernie Don Rogers, a pastor from Louisiana, and Robert Collins, a pastor who is president of the Missouri Baptist Convention. McCall is former president of the African American Fellowship of the SBC.

After several failed attempts in recent years, opponents defeated Lee Porter's bid for a 26th term as registration secretary. Porter was the last holdover from the period preceding the string of conservative victories that began in 1979. Jim Wells, a director of missions from Missouri, was elected by a vote of 1,839 to 1,222.

Two new initiatives were announced with considerable fanfare, though both are still largely conceptual.

SBC Executive Committee CEO Morris Chapman, Carlisle Driggers and James Merritt promoted a new "Empowering Kingdom Growth" (EKG) emphasis as "an all-out concentration on the kingdom of God." Driggers, executive director of the S.C. Baptist Convention, and Merritt, outgoing SBC president, are co-chairs of the EKG task force. Differing versions of the EKG concept have been promoted in South Carolina for the past 10 years.

In a press conference after the presentation, Chapman said EKG will not promote a series of goals, as an earlier "Bold Missions Thrust" program did, but will work from the bottom up, encouraging churches to seek God's kingdom and develop their own goals.

The task force is not promoting a program, Driggers told reporters, but a vision that calls for Southern Baptists to focus on the kingdom of God. "We are saying to the churches that you determine under God what God has for you to do. Then, how can we help you do that?"

Merritt said, "One thing I know for sure is that if the SBC does business as usual, our best days are behind us. ... We are really trying to say to Southern Baptists that we can't do business as usual, we've got to get out of the box and focus on the kingdom of God."

Tom Elliff, chair of a two-year old SBC Council on Family Life, announced a new initiative to be called "Kingdom Families."

"We have a crisis of family life in America," Elliff said. The events of last Sept. 11 were shocking, he said, because nearly 3,000 people died. "But every day, 3,000 families die," he said, indicating an ongoing crisis that must be addressed.

Elliff announced a "first-ever convention-wide rally to save the family" to be held in Phoenix on June 19, 2003, the day following the 2003 SBC annual meeting.

Elliff told reporters that the Council on the Family has developed a complete strategy that will be simple and Bible-based, in which pastors will play a key role in making their churches "virtually divorce-proof." The strategy will remain under wraps for the next year, however, as LifeWay Christian Resources and other Convention entities develop a full line of resources that will be marketed to support the effort. "We don't want to do it until we can do it right," Elliff said.

Even so, Elliff said Kingdom Families is not a program, but a movement. As the nation rose up and went to war after Pearl Harbor, he said, Kingdom Families calls Southern Baptists to rise up and fight to save the family.

The convention was also marked by a virtual visit from President George W. Bush, who spoke via satellite.

Bush congratulated Baptists for their growth, noting that "the Baptist form of church government was a model of democracy even before the founding of America."

Baptists have championed the separation of church and state, he said, but have never believed in separating religious belief from political life.

Southern Baptists and the Bush administration share common commitments to support a culture of life and strengthening of marriage and family as sacred institutions.

Bush promoted the federal funding of faith-based charities by saying they work as partners with the government, not as rivals. "We believe that the days of discriminating against religious institutions simply because they are religious must come to an end," he said.

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6/14/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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