By Jonathan Howe
This week, more than 5,000 Southern Baptists convened in Phoenix for the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. While I realize the audience of ThomRainer.com is a diverse one, many of you are Southern Baptist. In fact, we met numerous readers and podcast listeners while we were in Phoenix.
Whether you attended, watched online, saw some stories online, or were completely oblivious to the proceedings, there were several items of note from our time in the desert. Here are my six memories from this week:
- IMB’s Sending Ceremony and Presentation. The International Mission Board continues to be a force for the global spread of the gospel. We were blessed to commission nearly two dozen missionaries during the Tuesday night service. These commissioning services are great reminders of why we do what we do. But the IMB impressed with more than just the commissioning service. Dr. David Platt’s presentation on Monday evening was stellar. He walked us through the life of Adoniram Judson and connected his zeal for missions with that which is found in missionaries around the world today. It was a truly spectacular evening.
- Passing the Resolution on the Anti-Gospel of Alt-Right White Supremacy. The most public highlight of the week came on Wednesday as a result of something that didn’t happen on Tuesday. After much debate and procedural work, a resolution condemning the Alt-Right and White Supremacy made its way to the messengers Wednesday afternoon and was passed with a near unanimous vote.
- Presenting Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. with the Innaugural CSB Award. Dr. Mohler is a seminary president, Baptist statesman, and Bible scholar. He has influenced thousands upon thousands with his firm stance on the inerrancy of Scripture. It was only fitting that he become the first recipient of the CSB Award.
- A continued focus on evangelism. Regardless of the presentation, presenter, or topic, evangelism emerged as a common theme throughout the week. SBC President Steve Gaines appointed a task force to study the topic as well. An intentional focus on evangelism is needed in the SBC and beyond.
- Diversity in elections and nominees. Half of the elected officials this year were non-anglo. And it was good to see a more diverse group of nominees than ever before. Like evangelism, diversity takes an intentional effort.
- Engagement by younger Southern Baptists. It was again good to see younger pastors and staff making the trek to the SBC Annual Meeting. The need to show up and be involved is great and greatly obvious. But I am encouraged at the number of younger pastors I saw, talked with, and got to know this week. The future could indeed be bright.
The SBC Annual Meeting is always one of my most favorite weeks of the year, and this year was no exception.
Were you with us in Phoenix? What was your top memory? What did I miss?