SYLACAUGA, Ala.—A group of pastors has announced the forming of a new fellowship championing what they term a “traditionalist” Southern Baptist view of salvation doctrine with plans for a kick-off event during the Southern Baptist Convention in June.
The Connect 316 website shows more than 860 signatures for its doctrinal statement, crafted last year by Mississippi pastor Eric Hankins. The website offers visitors the chance to join previous signers of Hankins’ “Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.”
One of the group’s founders and its executive director, Rick Patrick of Alabama, said in a Jan. 20 news release that the fellowship is partly an alternative to “Calvinist-leaning” groups—such as the Founders Ministry, The Gospel Coalition, 9 Marks Ministries, Acts 29, Together for the Gospel and Baptist 21—but not its core identity.
“We are also a theologically driven ministry fellowship that helps like-minded believers connect with one another, share resources and discuss the doctrines that we hold dear,” said Patrick, pastor of First Baptist Church of Sylacauga, Ala. “But in another sense,” he added, the group is hesitant “to define ourselves merely in relation to Calvinism. There is a richness in the robust Hobbs-Rogers theological tradition that we seek to express on our own terms, without demonstrating opposition to anyone or anything else.”
The group is planning a kick-off breakfast on June 10 during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Baltimore and will host the “Whosoever Will Conference” June 6-8 at Northwest Baptist Church in Reisterstown, Md.
The news release notes the theological lineage of 20th century non-Calvinist Southern Baptists such as E.Y. Mullins, Herschel Hobbs and Adrian Rogers—men who chaired the committee that shaped revisions to the Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement in 1925, 1963 and 2000. The group’s website acknowledges the SBC’s movement away from more Calvinistic confessions beginning with the 1925 statement.
The Connect 316 website says the group “is a voluntary partnering of like-minded individuals, churches and organizations. When we use the term Traditionalist, we are not claiming that ours is the only tradition in Southern Baptist life, but simply that our Hobbs-Rogers theological tradition deserves a fair and appropriate expression.”
A graphic on the website notes the group’s affirmation of baptism by immersion, man’s free will, altar calls, repentance, grace, transformation and faith.
Other board members for Connect 316 are Tim Rogers, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Indian Trail, N.C., Ron Hale, associate pastor at West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., and Tim Guthrie, pastor of Arlington Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn.
Patrick, the executive director, is a former Texas pastor. Guthrie, in addition to leading his church in Tennessee, is president of Dallas-based Eklund Stewardship Ministries.