Baptist Briefs

Baptists giving in spite of economy. Southern Baptist pastors report their members still are giving in spite of the financial pressures many face. A new study by LifeWay Research shows 72 percent of Southern Baptist pastors indicate difficulties in the United States economy are affecting their churches negatively, but 76 percent say offerings are at or above levels they expected when drafting budgets several months ago. At the same time, 24 percent of the pastors say offerings are below what they expected and 27 percent indicate their congregations will not meet budgets if current giving trends continue. The online survey was conducted April 16-May 5 among a representative sample of 778 Southern Baptist pastors.


Nominee announced for SBC Pastors’ Conference. Ed Litton, pastor of First Baptist Church of North Mobile in Saraland, Ala., since 1994, will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference during its June 8-9 meeting in Indianapolis. Jimmy Draper, president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources, announced his intention to nominate Litton for the post. Litton was founding pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church in Tucson, Ariz., served as associate evangelism director for the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention and worked as a youth and collegiate ministry intern under Draper when he was pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless. Litton is a former president of the Arizona and Alabama Baptist pastors’ conferences and in 2001 served as first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a 1983 graduate of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix and holds a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor ministry degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.


SBC could be half as large in 2030, president predicts. The Southern Baptist Convention is dying rapidly, and resistance to change could kill more than half the denomination’s churches by 2030, SBC President Frank Page said. Unless something is done to reverse the downward trend, Southern Baptist churches could number only 20,000—down from the current total of more than 44,000—in fewer than 22 years, Page said. His comments came in a conference call with pastors, hosted by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Page said the problem “resided in the churches” that refuse to change to stop their inevitable demise. He insisted the SBC downturn is not the denomination’s fault—not due to poor programming or lack of emphasis on the denominational level.


Church ousts members on second try. One week after an effort to oust 71 members of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., failed by four votes, the megachurch voted again and this time removed the dissidents on a show-of-hands vote. The 71 members are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against church leaders last year alleging improper spending practices and seeking access to financial records. Pastor Jerry Sutton and Deacon Chair Carlos Cobos proposed the ouster. Of the 1,000 members who cast secret ballots May 4, 663 voted to dismiss the plaintiffs, while 337 voted “no.” A two-thirds approval was required, and the motion fell four votes short—with 66.3 percent. But a week later, the congregation was told the 71 plaintiffs should not have been allowed to vote on a motion for their own dismissal, according to Robert’s Rules of Order. Members then voted not to allow the votes of the plaintiffs to count, effectively reversing the outcome of the original vote.


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