GREENSBORO, N.C.–Messengers to the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly approved 15 resolutions June 14, including one that sought to balance faithful enforcement of the United States’ immigration laws with compassionate outreach to all immigrants.
Unlike recent years, the convention required both the morning and evening sessions to act on all the recommendations of the Resolutions Committee.
The committee might have completed its work in the morning had it not been for a lengthy debate on a resolution regarding the use of alcoholic beverages. The messengers eventually passed a recommendation by about a four-fifths majority not only opposing the production and consumption of alcohol but urging the exclusion of Southern Baptists who drink from the convention’s boards, committees and entities.
The resolution on the “crisis of illegal immigration” urged the federal government to secure the country’s borders and enforce its laws, including those that penalize employers who “knowingly hire” illegal immigrants or treat them unjustly. It is estimated about 12 million illegal immigrants are in the United States.
The measure, which was adopted in a nearly unanimous vote, also encouraged Southern Baptists and other Christians and their churches to reach out to immigrants regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality or “legal status” through sharing the gospel; implementing need-meeting ministries; starting English classes “on a massive scale”; and encouraging the achievement of citizenship or legal status.
Though the resolution called for Congress to act swiftly on immigration reform, it did not endorse a specific piece of legislation. The Senate and House of Representatives have passed widely divergent bills that will have to be reconciled in order for a measure to go to President Bush.
“Obviously, this is a complex problem, and there are a number of opinions among Southern Baptists at this time,” Kenyn Cureton, the SBC Executive Committee’s vice president for convention relations and liaison to the committee, said at a news conference after the resolutions report was completed. “I don’t think there’s a consensus about the specificity of the action that is needed to solve these problems.”
In addition to the resolutions on immigration and alcohol use, the messengers approved in unanimous or nearly unanimous votes measures:
> expressing displeasure with U.S. senators who recently failed to support a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and calling on the House to approve the proposal.
> affirming Christian teachers in the public schools and encouraging Southern Baptists to provide a godly influence on school systems through such means as election to school boards.
> renewing Southern Baptists’ commitment to stewardship of God’s creation while opposing solutions dependent on “questionable science.”
> condemning all human species-altering technologies, including the creation of human-animal hybrids.
> urging all school systems to accommodate off-campus Bible instruction during educational hours.
> voicing gratitude for the confirmation of federal judges and justices who respect the Constitution and encouraging the continued nomination and confirmation of such judges.
> calling on China to accord refugee status to North Koreans who have fled their country’s tyrannical regime and encouraging the United States and other countries to accept North Koreans as refugees.
> urging the disbanding of the government-supported militias in the Darfur region of Sudan, international trials for “perpetrators of the atrocities” in the area and multi-national aid to the area.
> affirming the service of bivocational, volunteer and part-time pastors and other gospel ministers.
> encouraging Southern Baptists to pray for the president and all members of the U.S. military.
> thanking Southern Baptists and other volunteers who served in disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
> expressing gratitude for the ministry at Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center on its 100th anniversary.
> thanking Southern Baptists in the Greensboro region and others who helped make this year’s convention possible.
All resolutions express the views of the messengers meeting at a particular convention but are not binding on churches and the entities of the SBC.
Members of the committee were Chairman T.C. French, pastor of Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.; Robin Hadaway, member of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo., and associate professor of missions at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Gerald Harris, member of Ephesus Baptist Church in Atlanta and editor of The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention; Martha Lawley, member of First Southern Baptist Church, Worland, Wyo.; Dwayne Mercer, pastor, First Baptist Church, Oviedo, Fla.; Darrell Orman, pastor, First Baptist Church, Stuart, Fla.; Frank Page, pastor, First Baptist Church, Taylors, S.C., and newly elected SBC president; Forrest Pollock, pastor, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Brandon, Fla.; Ida South, member, First Baptist Church, Mathiston, Miss., and Mike Stone, pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Blackshere, Ga.