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HOUSTON | The first official day of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting in Houston started with a joke from President Fred Luter (he pretended to bobble the historic gavel used to call the meeting to order). Luter kept the tone light throughout most of the day, but ended with a rousing president’s message that urged Southern Baptists to reach more people with the Gospel. Here, the day’s highlights in pictures:

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary, was part of a panel at the "Marriage on the Line" breakfast hosted by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The meeting covered issues like same-sex marriage, religious freedom for churches, and recent Boy Scouts policy changes.

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary, was part of a panel at the “Marriage on the Line” breakfast hosted by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The meeting covered issues like same-sex marriage, religious freedom for churches, and recent Boy Scouts policy changes.

Reflecting his desire for greater ethnic representation in the Southern Baptist Convention, Executive Committee President Frank Page prays with African American and Asian leaders during his report.

Reflecting his desire for greater ethnic representation in the Southern Baptist Convention, Executive Committee President Frank Page prays with African American and Asian leaders during his report.

At the Baptist 21 luncheon and panel, the discussion turned to issues that put the church at odds with the larger culture. Alabama pastor David Platt told the audience, "We can't pick and choose when we believe the Gospel, which social issues we're going to apply the Gospel to, and which we're not."

At the Baptist 21 luncheon and panel, the discussion turned to issues that put the church at odds with the larger culture. Alabama pastor David Platt told the audience, “We can’t pick and choose when we believe the Gospel, which social issues we’re going to apply the Gospel to, and which we’re not.”

Richard Land, who served as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for 25 years, delivered his final report Tuesday as the entity's leader.

Richard Land, who served as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for 25 years, delivered his final report Tuesday as the entity’s leader.

New ERLC President Russell Moore answers questions at a press conference.

Russell Moore answered questions at a press conference before his first presentation as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Frank Page (left) stood with the advisory team he appointed to study theological differences within the convention. The group's work was "an attempt to start talking to each other, rather than about each other and at each other," Page said.

Frank Page (left) stood with the advisory team he appointed to study theological differences within the convention. The group’s work was “an attempt to start talking to each other, rather than about each other and at each other,” Page said.

Fred Luter laughs as Virginia pastor Mark Croston nominates him for a second term as SBC President. Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, was unopposed.

Fred Luter laughs as Virginia pastor Mark Croston nominates him for a second term as SBC President. Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, was unopposed.

Adam Cruse, pastor of First Baptist Church, Mt. Carmel, Ill., closes Tuesday afternoon's session in prayer.

Adam Cruse, pastor of First Baptist Church, Mt. Carmel, Ill., closes Tuesday afternoon’s session in prayer.

Charles Billingsley, worship leader at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., leads convention messengers in worship with help from the choir from Houston's Second Baptist Church.

Charles Billingsley, worship leader at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., leads convention messengers in worship with help from the choir from Houston’s Second Baptist Church.

"We need to understand that we're in this together," Luter said in his president's address. "It's not about your church and my church. It's not about your ministry and my ministry. If's not about your kingdom and my kingdom. It's about all of us as Southern Baptists working together."

“We need to understand that we’re in this together,” Luter said in his president’s address. “It’s not about your church and my church. It’s not about your ministry and my ministry. If’s not about your kingdom and my kingdom. It’s about all of us as Southern Baptists working together.”

Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., hosted a 9Marks at 9 session on "the current state of the SBC."

Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., hosted a 9Marks at 9 session on “the current state of the SBC.”

Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, explains the Conservative Resurgence of the 1970s and 80s to young leaders gathered for 9Marks at 9.

Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, explains the Conservative Resurgence of the 1970s and 80s to young leaders gathered for 9Marks at 9.

HOUSTON | All three took center stage at different moments today in the Southern Baptist Convention Exhibit Hall.

The Southern Baptist Convention Exhibit Hall opened today, giving messengers a place to catch up with old friends, learn more about SBC agencies and partners, and meet a robot. (Keep scrolling down.)

The Southern Baptist Convention Exhibit Hall opened today, giving messengers a place to catch up with old friends, learn more about SBC agencies and partners, and meet a robot. (Keep scrolling down.)

IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams (center) visited the exhibits at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center with his sons, Ethan (left) and Noah.

IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams (center) visited the exhibits at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center with his sons, Ethan (left) and Noah.

Illinois Baptist pastor Adam Cruse (center, in red) talked with friends in the exhibit hall, including Illinois' own Sons of the Father gospel group.

Illinois Baptist pastor Adam Cruse (center, in red) talked with friends in the exhibit hall, including Illinois’ own Sons of the Father gospel group.

A walking, talking robot (or Transformer) greeted guests at the LifeWay Christian Resources booth, charming most and befuddling a few born before the 1980s cartoon. LifeWay's "Transformational Church" materials are designed to help strengthen congregations by measuring the signs of a healthy church.

A walking, talking robot (or Transformer) greeted guests at the LifeWay Christian Resources booth, charming most and befuddling a few born before the 1980s cartoon. LifeWay’s “Transformational Church” materials are designed to help strengthen congregations by measuring the signs of a healthy church.

People gathered in the hall to hear from the Calvinism advisory team appointed to study how Southern Baptists can cooperate across theological divides. The team's findings likely will be featured during the SBC Executive Committee's report tomorrow.

People gathered in the hall to hear from the Calvinism advisory team appointed to study how Southern Baptists can cooperate across theological divides. The team’s findings likely will be featured during the SBC Executive Committee’s report tomorrow.

Leo Endel, executive director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention and a member of the advisory team, said, "When we talk about the unity, particularly in John 17 that Jesus prayed for, that is not the same thing as uniformity. And in fact, we become richer by the conversation that takes place across the spectrum."

Leo Endel, executive director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention and a member of the advisory team, said, “When we talk about the unity, particularly in John 17 that Jesus prayed for, that is not the same thing as uniformity. And in fact, we become richer by the conversation that takes place across the spectrum.”

LifeWay's Ed Stetzer interviewed Bible study author and teacher Beth Moore about how she went from a substitute Sunday School teacher to a world-renowned speaker.

LifeWay’s Ed Stetzer interviewed Bible study author and teacher Beth Moore about how she went from a substitute Sunday School teacher to a world-renowned speaker.

In-depth Bible study "has been life out of the ditch for me," Moore told Stetzer.

In-depth Bible study “has been life out of the ditch for me,” Moore told Stetzer.

 

God’s world in pictures

Meredith Flynn —  January 21, 2013

HEARTLAND | International Mission Board photographers share their pictures of the year for 2012, images that showcase God’s grace and mercy, and the great needs of people around the globe. View the full gallery.

A South Asian teenager has seen her home burned four times because she and her family are Christians. Attackers even took hammers and machetes to shatter the bricks. Despite this persecution, the family remains in their village — the sole followers of Jesus Christ. The young girl lives a lonely life because of her faith.

A South Asian teenager has seen her home burned four times because she and her family are Christians. Attackers even took hammers and machetes to shatter the bricks. Despite this persecution, the family remains in their village — the sole followers of Jesus Christ. The young girl lives a lonely life because of her faith. Photo by Susie Rain

Edison Romero, 72, kneels in prayer while attending a missions training session at the School of Cross-cultural Missions near Iquitos, Peru, in the Amazon jungle. As he prays, the child of a fellow student sleeps on a nearby bench. Romero’s wife of 44 years died just three days before the training began, but he still traveled 12 hours by boat from his village to attend. Romero said he “just couldn’t miss it.” Photo by Rebecca Springer

Edison Romero, 72, kneels in prayer while attending a missions training session at the School of Cross-cultural Missions near Iquitos, Peru, in the Amazon jungle. As he prays, the child of a fellow student sleeps on a nearby bench. Romero’s wife of 44 years died just three days before the training began, but he still traveled 12 hours by boat from his village to attend. Romero said he “just couldn’t miss it.” Photo by Rebecca Springer

Boys play in their dorm room at a Christian children’s home in Choibalsan, Mongolia. The home was set up to provide a stable life for Mongolia’s street children. Its founder, a Mongolian follower of Christ, has had a long friendship and ministry partnership with IMB workers in Mongolia. Photo by Hugh Johnson

Boys play in their dorm room at a Christian children’s home in Choibalsan, Mongolia. The home was set up to provide a stable life for Mongolia’s street children. Its founder, a Mongolian follower of Christ, has had a long friendship and ministry partnership with IMB workers in Mongolia. Photo by Hugh Johnson