The first official day of the Southern Baptist Convention is underway, following three days of pre-meeting activities. Outside the Phoenix Convention Center, LGBT protestors are standing in a circle on the corner nearest the main entrance, receiving instructions on how to talk with messengers about gay and transgender issues,
In the press room, the question is “How soon before someone on the platform says, ‘The Southern Baptist Convention only exists two days a year?’” It’s an inside joke for people who cover the convention 365 days a year, but who recognize that our un-denomination only takes official actions when messengers gather annually to vote.
On the platform, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page is presenting the gavel to SBC President Steve Gaines, who, tapping the ancient mallet gently on the podium, declares the meeting officially open.
And, after 21 days of fasting and prayer, Gaines begins explaining the rules for conducting business, and starting a meeting themed “Pray: For such a time as this.”
Pastor of the Memphis-area megachurch Bellevue, Gaines is expected to be re-elected to a second one-year term as president. Illinois’ own Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, will complete his term as first vice-president.
The main issue, as best we can tell, is whether messengers will bring any motions concerning the future of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and its president, Russell Moore. Speculation among convention regulars is that the ERLC will not be chastised for actions in the 2016 election that perturbed some pastors and church members—but messengers can bring most any kind of motion.
The last opportunity for introducing new business will be at 3:45 p.m. (PT) today. Moore’s report is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. It will be the last item of business.
-Eric Reed in Phoenix