SBC 2024: Pressley elected SBC president; Forney’s Lopez chosen as second VP

INDIANAPOLIS—In a six-way presidential race that resulted in two run-off votes, Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention June 12.

Brad Graves, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ada, Okla., was elected first vice president. Eddie Lopez, pastor of First Baptist Forney En Español, was elected second vice president. Lopez has been a church planter and led his church to plant other churches in the U.S and Mexico. He has served committees at the SBC level and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention as vice president.

Recording Secretary Nathan Finn and Registration Secretary Don Currence were re-elected by acclamation.

Task force recommendations OK’d by messengers

Messengers approved recommendations from three task force groups:

Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF)

The ARITF was formed in 2022 with the charge to study and bring recommendations to help Southern Baptists make their churches safer from sex abusers. The convention approved recommendations from the group in 2023 providing an additional year to build resources, such as the Ministry Toolkit, for training church leaders and volunteers, and for development of the Ministry Check database of known abusers associated with Southern Baptist churches.

The ARITF brought two recommendations to the convention:

  • It recommended the convention affirm the objectives emphasized in the group’s report: the expansion of the Ministry Toolkit; the establishment of the Ministry Check website; and the creation of a permanent home for abuse prevention and response.
  • The second recommendation urged the SBC Executive Committee to “work earnestly” by recommending a structure and funding for the implementation of the objectives, and report to messengers during the 2025 SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas.

Great Commission Task Force

The Great Commission Task Force was appointed last year to evaluate the outcomes of the Great Commission Task Force that reported to the convention in 2010. After its research, the task force made the following recommendations, all of which were approved by messengers:

  • State conventions and Lifeway are requested to discontinue using the term “Great Commission Giving” in an effort to reaffirm the Cooperative Program as the primary method of giving for Southern Baptist churches;
  • State conventions and Lifeway are requested to use a simplified Annual Church Profile, limited to six categories and two questions;
  • The North American Mission Board is requested to conduct an annual survey of churches planted, revitalized, or otherwise assisted with CP funds 10 years after their launch;
  • The Executive Committee is requested to increase the budget allocation for the International Mission Board to 51% beginning with the 2026-2027 budget year;
  • The Historical Library and Archives is requested to make the audio recordings of the 2010 Great Commission Task Force available and navigable by June 16, 2025; and
  • The Executive Committee is requested to propose changes to governing documents that would require entities to report on action they have taken in response to messenger-approved recommendations coming from special work groups or task forces.

Cooperation Group

The Cooperation Group was appointed in response to a 2023 motion, during a time when the nature of a church’s “friendly cooperation” was being reconsidered. Speaking to Baptist Press last fall, group chairman Jared Wellman, pastor of Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington, said the Cooperation Group’s work needs to address what it means for autonomous, independent churches to work in cooperation in the SBC.

The group brought four motions to the convention, all of which were approved:

  • The process for editing or amending the Baptist Faith and Message should be the same as that for the SBC Constitution (two-thirds vote, two consecutive years);
  • The sole authority for seating [convention] messengers will be vested in the messenger body;
  • The Committee on Nominations should nominate as entity trustees and standing committee members only those candidates who affirm the convention’s adopted statement of faith; and
  • The Executive Committee will evaluate the usefulness and accuracy of a public list of SBC churches.

SBC officers, pictured from left: Don Currence, registration secretary; Eddie Lopez, first vice president; Clint Pressley, president; Brad Graves, first vice president; and Nathan Finn, recording secretary. BAPTIST PRESS PHOTO

Eight resolutions approved

Messengers in Indianapolis approved eight resolutions expressing their convictions on relevant social and moral subjects on Tuesday, June 11. Although resolutions are not binding on the convention or its entities, these statements have been guidelines that allow convention leadership to generally know the thinking of Southern Baptist church members.

This year’s resolutions dealt with world events such as the Israel-Hamas conflict, moral issues such as in vitro fertilization and religious liberty, and convention issues such as the personal holiness of convention leaders.

Messengers offered support for Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas terror attacks, while also standing with all those suffering in the region. The resolution additionally denied “assertions of moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas.”

In the resolution titled, “The Ethical Realities of Reproductive Technologies and the Dignity of the Human Embryo,” the convention affirmed “the unconditional value and right to life of every human being, including those in an embryonic stage ….” The statement went on to call on Southern Baptists to use only technologies consistent with that affirmation of life. This call included a consideration of “the number of embryos generated in the IVF [in vitro fertilization] process ….”

Speaking to religious liberty, a resolution rejected any effort to impose a state religion—whether Christianity or another faith—while also condemning efforts such as blasphemy laws that would restrict a person’s freedom of conscience.

A resolution on “Integrity in SBC Leadership” expressed gratitude to God for “righteous and godly leaders,” but rejected “the notion that giftedness, charisma, or influence supersede character and qualification in the life of a leader.” The resolution called on leaders to repent when they fall into sin.

Other resolutions addressed the rights and responsibilities of parents, the just conduct of war, evangelism and the Great Commission, and gratitude for the convention’s host city. The text of all eight resolutions will be posted to SBC.net.

Other convention business

  • In other news, an amendment that would have expanded the definition of a cooperating church with regard to the role of a pastor failed the garner the required two-thirds vote to be adopted.
  • The convention approved a 2024-2025 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget of $190 million to fund the work of 12 SBC entities. Cooperative Program allocations to missions (the International and North American mission boards) are over 73% of the funds received.
  • Messengers affirmed an SBC Credentials Committee recommendation declaring First Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., no longer in friendly cooperation with the convention because their faith and practice regarding complementarianism are incompatible with the convention’s statement of faith.

The 2025 Southern Baptist Convention will meet in Dallas June 10-11.

 

Correspondent
Gary Ledbetter
Southern Baptist Texan
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