ST. LOUIS (BP)—Messengers to the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention, in addition to repudiating the display of the Confederate battle flag, approved 11 other resolutions on a variety of culture and ministry concerns.
Messengers adopted statements expressing compassion for people devastated by the Orlando mass shooting, urging consistent evangelism of unbelievers and encouraging care for refugees.
They also passed measures that included calling for the federal government not to discriminate against people who support only the “biblical, traditional view of marriage” and opposing an effort to require women to register for the military draft.
For Stephen Rummage, chairman of the Resolutions Committee, the call for Southern Baptists to evangelize was central to the panel’s deliberations in presenting the 12 measures to the messengers.
The resolution on evangelism “might just seem like a standard resolution for an evangelical body such as Southern Baptists to pass,” Rummage said. “But really, that is at the heart of everything that we talked about, including what we had to say about the Confederate flag. Everything we do should have as its end and as its goal reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Resolutions “build bridges, and they tear down walls, but we’ve got to cross those bridges with the gospel and take Jesus to people, because that’s what it’s all about, and that’s the only hope for our world, for our nation and indeed for Southern Baptists,” Rummage said.
In addition to the Confederate flag measure, the other 11 resolutions:
• Affirmed Southern Baptists’ commitment to biblical sexuality and urged the protection of religious free exercise. Kelvin Cochran, who was fired as Atlanta’s fire chief after writing in a book that homosexual behavior is immoral, presented the resolution to the convention as a member of the committee.
• Called for prayer for and pledged support to people affected by the June 12 killings in Orlando.
• Encouraged faithful proclamation of the gospel by churches and intentional evangelism by individual Southern Baptists locally, nationally and globally.
• Declared “unrelenting opposition” to efforts by military leaders and the Obama administration “to increase the likelihood that women will be placed in harm’s way” along with voicing support for service members and their families.
• Called on the government to enact strict security in screening refugees and for Southern Baptists to minister compassionately to them and share the gospel with them.
• Urged participation in voting and prayer for God to provide “spiritual, moral, ethical, and cultural renewal.”
• Encouraged churches to consider increasing ministries to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and their family caregivers.
• Called for pastors to support freedom of the press and journalists to practice that freedom responsibly.
• Affirmed “In God We Trust” as the national motto and encouraged its public display.
• Supported Israel’s right to exist as a free state and encouraged renewed prayer for peace in and salvation of Israel.
• Expressed gratitude to God as well as Southern Baptists in the St. Louis area and all others who helped with this year’s meeting.