“Elizabeth, you can now exhale, my girl.” Fred Luter adjourned the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention with a smile, a word to his wife, and probably a sigh of relief. His first convention as president brought little controversy – a half-hour discussion on a Boy Scouts resolution was the most buzz-worthy topic. And, while fewer in number than in previous years, Baptists gathered at the George R. Brown Convention Center were focused on reversing the denomination’s decline, with a focus on true revival.
“Lord, send a revival, and let it begin with me,” Luter said in his last words to messengers.
Unofficial numbers show 5,103 messengers registered in Houston. Despite the low-key tone, trends emerged that could chart a new course for the SBC:
-Events targeted toward young leaders were well attended, allaying fears – for now – that the next generation is unengaged and uninterested.
-Under the leadership of new Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore, Southern Baptists’ policy agency could be marked by an emphasis on “convictional kindness.”
-The convention’s declining baptism and membership numbers are very real indicators of decline, but for the most part, the meeting kept a hopeful tone, buoyed largely by Luter’s good-natured approach to his time at the podium. Re-elected to a second term, he will play a key role in reigniting Baptists’ passion and commitment to cooperate together, as the convention looks toward the 2014 Annual Meeting in Baltimore.
The June 17 issue of the Illinois Baptist will cover all this and more – read it online this Friday and ibonline.IBSA.org. And thanks for following along these past few days. As they say in Texas (we think), So long, pardner!