I attended the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis this past week. It was one of the most attended annual meetings in years, and there were several interesting interactions during the meeting. I was particularly encouraged by two things: the stance taken by the SBC on the confederate flag and the compassion shown to the victims of the shooting in Orlando.
Those familiar with the history of the SBC are well aware of the sinful past of the convention in regards to slavery and racism. When the Northern Baptists refused to appoint Southern slaveholders as missionaries, the Southern Baptists formed their own convention. The SBC has publicly confessed this sin, and progress has certainly been made (although there is room for continued improvement). This past week, the SBC made further progress by passing a resolution regarding the confederate flag. The confederate flag is viewed by many as a symbol of hatred and racism, and the SBC passed a resolution encouraging churches and Christians to abstain from flying the flag. As James Merritt said in his speech, all the confederate flags in the world aren’t worth the soul of one person. I applaud the move and hope those in the convention who value the flag will be sensitive to the offensive nature of the flag in the minds of many and disavow its use.
In regards to the shooting, the SBC spent time in prayer for the victims in Orlando. Christians are often viewed as judgmental and hateful, but Southern Baptists expressed compassion and concern for the victims of the shooting and their families. While still affirming the sinfulness of homosexuality, the SBC demonstrated love and compassion for these victims and their families, praying for them specifically (something we did at my church on the Sunday after the shooting as well). It is possible to say that homosexuality is a sin and still show compassion to those who are involved in it.
So, these two things stuck out in my mind from the annual meeting. The Southern Baptist Convention and its messengers continue to push towards racial reconciliation, and they continue to stand for the truth of Scripture while still showing compassion and concern for the victims of the shooting in Orlando. May God continue to bless the SBC as its churches proclaim Christ and send out missionaries to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.