ATLANTA—If the Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings were college or NBA basketball games Barry McCarty would be the leader in minutes played. For nearly three decades no one has accumulated more platform time in the SBC annual meetings than the well-known chief parliamentarian.
In the course of 29 annual convention meetings, McCarty has probably logged 540 hours on the platform in addition to the significant amount of time he spends with the SBC presidents in preparation for the convention business sessions.
McCarty has now served under 16 different SBC presidents. His prowess as a parliamentarian has been invaluable in helping convention leaders navigate through some rather stormy business sessions, particularly during the Conservative Resurgence.
While McCarty is known as Southern Baptists’ chief parliamentarian, he is also a preacher, teacher, pastor and educator. He earned his Ph.D. in rhetoric and argumentation from the University of Pittsburgh and has served as president of Cincinnati Christian University and until recently pastor of Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta.
Throughout his ministry McCarty has served the Lord in the Stone-Campbell tradition, which sought to restore Christian unity through abolishing creeds and returning to the principles of the early churches described in the New Testament.
McCarty explained, “In reading Baptist history, I discovered that the desire to recover New Testament Christianity was also what the Anabaptists were striving to do during the Protestant Reformation.”
At the SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, McCarty was asked, “Barry, when are you going to become a Southern Baptist?”
“Well, it may be sooner than you think,” McCarty responded.
Began with 2000 BF&M
Through the years the affable parliamentarian developed a deep love for Southern Baptists and a growing appreciation for the Baptist Faith and Message as a confession of sound biblical doctrine. He is a man of deep convictions and great faith, holding tenaciously to the infallibility of God’s Word.
“My confidence in the BF&M 2000 began 15 years ago when I assisted the SBC in its adoption,” McCarty explained. “Paige [Patterson], who was the convention president in 2000, and I had numerous conversations about that confessional document and how it would be presented to the messengers at the Orlando convention.
“I immersed myself in the content of the Baptist Faith and Message and grew to love the way it summarized the Christian faith. I especially appreciated its clear statement on salvation by grace through faith, while also affirming believer’s baptism as the biblical testimony of a saving faith in the work of Christ.”
McCarty cited three primary reasons for his decision to become a Southern Baptist.
“First,” he said, “while Southern Baptists are not a creedal people, they are a confessional people; and at this point in history the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is the best statement of faith I know of.
“Second, right now no one is speaking to our culture on the great moral issues with as much clarity or biblical integrity as Southern Baptists.
“Third, at this point in history no one is doing more to penetrate lostness around the world than Southern Baptists.”
McCarty said that his journey to becoming a Southern Baptist reminded him of the sojourners who were adopted by the tribes of Israel in Ezekiel 47:23, which says, “And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God.”
McCarty reasoned, “I am a long-time sojourner who wants to claim my inheritance in this tribe, among the people known as Southern Baptists.”
‘We want in’
On August 16, Barry and his wife, Pat, were baptized and welcomed into the membership of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. The McCartys selected Sherwood because of their deep relationship with Pastor Michael Catt, the influence of the Refresh Conferences provided by the church, and the prayers the church has offered to God on their behalf.
McCarty told The Christian Index that he would give four offerings on his first Sunday at Sherwood—his tithe for the local church and three additional offerings to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and Georgia’s state missions offering.
“We understand how our Convention works, and we want in on all of it,” McCarty said.
Pat McCarty is also familiar with Southern Baptist life. When Barry served as a pastor in Dallas, she worked at GuideStone Financial Resources. During his pastorate in Atlanta, Pat served Southern Baptists as an employee of the North American Mission Board.
This fall, Barry will have the opportunity to serve Southern Baptists in a new way—as a professor of preaching and rhetoric at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth.
“Everyone knows the prowess of Barry McCarty as a parliamentarian,” Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson said. “But his greatness as a preacher and a rhetorician has been unknown to most Southern Baptists. He is a gracious pastor, a powerful preacher and a consistent witness for Christ.”
Becoming a part of the Southern Baptist voice
In speaking of his transition, McCarty said, “I would like for evangelicals across the nation to know my reasoning for becoming a Southern Baptist; and I would say to them, ‘If your church is having a love affair with the culture rather than lovingly speaking truth to the culture you may need to become a Southern Baptist.
“Southern Baptists are the strongest voice for New Testament Christianity in our generation. I want to be part of that voice.
“When the seminary presidents gave their report at this year’s convention in Columbus, Southern Seminary President Al Mohler said, ‘Ground zero for where we will be standing in 30 years is the seminary campuses right now.’ That is why I want to pour myself into the next generation of pastors and missionaries as a professor at SWBTS.”