We at SBC Voices are thankful for the work of the Executive Committee in compiling the report on the progress of racial reconciliation in the SBC. We believe this report deserves a wide readership and thoughtful reflection and are thankful for Executive Board chairman, Michael Routt, for permission to post the report here. The following is the full text of the report as found in Southern Baptist Convention Bulletin, Tuesday part 2, 92nd vol., June 16-17, 2015.
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A Review of the Southern Baptist Convention’s
Progress on Racial Reconciliation, 1995–2015
Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
June 15, 2015
At the 1995 annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, the Resolutions Committee voted unanimously to present a resolution, “On Racial Reconciliation,” for consideration by the Convention. The Resolutions Committee felt that on the historic occasion of the Southern Baptist Convention’s 150th anniversary, it was appropriate for the Convention to address aspects of its past that needed to be acknowledged.
The resolution acknowledged that relations with African Americans had been damaged by the role slavery played in the formation of the SBC, lamenting and repudiating “historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest.” It repented of racism past and present, saying, “We apologize to all African Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously.” The resolution concluded by committing to pursue “racial reconciliation in all our relationships” for the glory of God.
Gary Frost, then the second vice president of the Convention, spoke in favor of the resolution, calling on messengers from the churches to lead the reconciliation process based on the unifying power of Christ. After the resolution was overwhelmingly adopted by the messengers, Frost, on behalf of African American Christians, accepted the apology and extended forgiveness. He closed by praying for forgiveness for racism in all forms and thanking God for the grace He extends to all people.
Nineteen years later, at the 2014 SBC annual meeting, Alan Cross moved that, in light of the resolution’s twentieth anniversary at the 2015 SBC annual meeting, the SBC president assign a task force to assess the progress Southern Baptists have made in racial reconciliation since 1995 and offer recommendations to the 2015 SBC annual meeting regarding “how Southern Baptists, facilitated by the Convention’s entities and seminaries, may better reach, make disciples, and raise up leadership from and among diverse racial and ethnic groups in North America.” Upon recommendation by the Convention’s Committee on Order of Business, messengers referred the motion to the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee determined that the Alan Cross motion largely paralleled a motion made by Paul Kim at the 2009 SBC annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, asking the Executive Committee to examine ways in which ethnic churches and church leaders could be more involved in SBC life and leadership. Following a two-year review, the report, A Review of Ethnic Church and Ethnic Church Leader Participation in SBC Life, was presented to the messengers at the 2011 annual meeting.
The 2011 report included ten recommendations to the SBC and offered two suggestions to outside groups—ethnic and racial church leaders and the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference leadership— about ways to expand intercultural diversity in Convention life (see APPENDIX at the conclusion of this report).
The recommendations sought to provide a consistent mechanism for enlisting racial and ethnic church leaders for elected leadership positions in Southern Baptist life, including service on SBC committees and boards; to encourage SBC entities to give special attention to employment and involvement of ethnic church leaders through their ministries; and to increase visibility of diverse Southern Baptists through Convention communications and selection of platform personalities at the SBC’s annual meetings. The recommendations were adopted by the messengers, with the requests forwarded to the groups specified in the report.
During deliberations for this present report, members of the Executive Committee considered how racial reconciliation can be measured. Suggestions included (a) whether potential “barriers to participation” in Convention life have been identified and removed; (b) what “markers of inclusion” serve as sign-posts that greater participation is taking place; (c) where “proportional representation” of qualified individuals to positions of leadership and service in Convention processes falls on the continuum of visible and strategic leadership roles; and (d) how or whether the “conversation” about intercultural engagement has changed, especially since the 2011 report was adopted.
This report provides a brief chronological overview of significant events in Convention life from 1995 through 2015 and reviews specific action steps taken since the 2011 recommendations were adopted by the Convention.
A Brief Chronological Review, 1995–2015
Racial Reconciliation Task Force, 1996–1999. Following adoption of the 1995 Resolution on Racial Reconciliation, the SBC Inter-Agency Council (IAC; renamed the Great Commission Council in 1997) named a task force “charged to work toward a strategy and implementation of full racial and ethnic reconciliation.” It named Richard Land, president of the Christian Life Commission (now the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission), as chairman of the task force. In establishing the task force, the IAC called for SBC entity heads “to strive for representation on our boards of trustees, our staffs and faculties, and all other bodies, based on biblical qualifications and embracing the ethnic diversity of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Then-IAC Secretary Paige Patterson told SBC LIFE at the time that the IAC had an obligation and an opportunity to profoundly influence progress toward racial reconciliation in the SBC. “As the IAC reflected on the resolution made last year on racial reconciliation,” he said at the time, “and as we listened to the thoughts and the counsel of a number of our fellow Southern Baptists of African American ethnic background, we decided it was essential that we take a direct leadership role in putting actual feet to the resolution.”
The task force was comprised of representatives of each SBC entity and agency and included African American, Hispanic, and Native American consultants. The Task Force met several times from 1996 through 1998, with its last meeting on January 27, 1999.
Some of the major accomplishments of the Racial Reconciliation Task Force included the following: (a) advised the Executive Committee how to administer funds raised through an “Arson Fund” established during the 1996 SBC annual meeting in New Orleans to assist ninety-five African American churches victimized by arsonists; (b) encouraged the SBC Implementation Task Force, charged to oversee the restructure of the SBC in 1997, to maintain a strong focus on “African American and ethnic ministries”; (c) affirmed redirecting the unspent Arson Fund to the SBC seminaries for theological training for African American pastors; (d) urged ethnic fellowship leaders to develop a pool of eligible candidates to serve as SBC trustees “so the SBC Committee on Nominations can consider these individuals in their selection process”; and (e) heard reports about the “unabated” growth in the number of ethnic and language churches being planted and/or choosing to align with Southern Baptists.
SBC and State Baptist Convention Officers. In 1994, the Convention elected a Chinese pastor and an African American pastor as two of its top three officers—Simon Tsoi, pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, was elected as first vice president, while Gary Frost, pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church in Youngstown, Ohio, was elected second vice president. The following year, in 1995, Frost was reelected to serve a second term as second vice president and subsequently served as a consultant to the Racial Reconciliation Task Force.
The year after the resolution was adopted (1996), African American Pastor Fred Luter, of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, was elected as second vice president of the Convention. Luter would later be elected as first vice president of the Convention (2011), and then, in 2012, he was elected by acclamation as the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was reelected in 2013, also by acclamation.
In the nineteen SBC officer elections since 1995, the Convention has elected ten presidents to first-year terms (each was also elected to a second term) and thirty-eight first and second vice presidents to one-year terms. Of the ten presidents, one was Native American (Johnny Hunt, elected in 2008 and 2009) and one was African American (Fred Luter, elected in 2012 and 2013).
Of the thirty-eight first and second vice presidents elected since 1995, four have been African American, one Hispanic, and one Korean, representing 15.8 percent of those elected to serve in these roles. Others have been nominated to serve as president, first vice president, or second vice president without being elected, most recently when Korean pastor Dennis Manpoong Kim received 40.7 percent of the vote as the runner-up in the 2014 SBC presidential election.
Numerous African Americans and Chinese Americans, as well as Filipinos, Hispanics, and Japanese Americans, had been elected as state Baptist convention presidents prior to 1995 (in Alaska, California, Hawaii Pacific, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania/South Jersey, and Utah/Idaho). The number of state Baptist conventions to elect non-Anglo presidents continued to grow following the 1995 SBC resolution. From 1996 to 2013, twelve additional state conventions joined the ten above in electing almost forty African Americans or individuals from other racial or ethnic groups as state convention presidents. In 2014, Nevada and Tennessee became the twenty-third and twenty-fourth state conventions to have elected African American or other non-Anglo state Baptist convention presidents.
The Baptist Faith and Message, 2000. Building upon the theological framework of the 1995 Resolution, members of The Baptist Faith and Message revision committee addressed the sin of racism with both explicit and implicit wording in their proposal to the 2000 SBC annual meeting. Both the 1925 and 1963 versions of The Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) urged Christians to oppose “every form of greed, selfishness, and vice.” Among other changes, the 2000 BF&M committee added the words “should oppose racism,” placing them in the lead position in the sentence, “In the Spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice…” (emphasis supplied), which was adopted by the messengers at the annual meeting.
More subtly, the committee highlighted the biblical doctrine of the unity of the human race in Article III (“every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love”) and Article VI (“the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation”).
Growth in Membership and Numbers of Churches. Under both the Home Mission Board and its successor, the North American Mission Board, church planting initiatives have targeted the underserved urban centers of the United States and Canada. For example, in March 2015, NAMB President Kevin Ezell reported that “more than 58 percent of the churches Southern Baptists started in 2014 were non-Anglo.”
This NAMB report reflects a multi-year trend. The growth of racial and ethnic congregations and congregants that voluntarily cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention has significantly outpaced that of Anglo churches. Between 1998 and 2013, growth in membership of the 40,371 predominantly Anglo churches declined by 2.33 percent (from 14,700,709 in 1998 to 14,658,060 in 2013) while total membership in predominantly non-Anglo churches increased by 115.78 percent (from 637,934 in 1998 to 1,376,504 in 2013). Church membership in predominantly non-Anglo churches now accounts for almost 10 percent of total membership of cooperating Southern Baptist churches, with almost 6 percent being African American. Given that membership in predominantly Anglo congregations reflects varying numbers of other racial and ethnic populations, it is likely that the total percentage of non-Anglo involvement is slightly higher.
The total number of non-Anglo congregations (churches and church-type missions) also outpaced the percentage growth of Anglo congregations during the same period. In 1998, the Convention reported 44,949 congregations, of which 6,048 were non-Anglo (or 13.45 percent of congregations). By 2013, the number of congregations had grown to 50,474, of which 10,103 were non-Anglo, or 20.02 percent of total congregations. The 2014 Annual Church Profile report, which will serve as the basis for NAMB’s Center for Missional Research to update these statistics, had not been released at the time this report was prepared.
Fellowships and Networks. Following an organizational meeting in 1993, the National African American Fellowship (NAAF) was formally established in 1994 and celebrated its twentieth anniversary during the 2014 SBC annual meeting in Baltimore. NAAF provides an affinity fellowship for churches and pastors who desire to identify with the doctrinal and missiological vision of the Southern Baptist Convention. Throughout NAAF’s twenty-year history, it has been on the front lines of encouraging church planting, enlisting existing churches to become part of the Southern Baptist Convention, and helping African American churches, many of which are new to the Convention, Navigate through SBC culture; Affect individual lives and churches; Actively influence society; and Fulfill the Great Commission.
The Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network (BSBDSN), chartered in 1997, was designed to connect African American employees of SBC entities for scholarly fellowship and mutual encouragement. The BSBDSN produced six issues of The Journal of Black Southern Baptist History between 2003 and 2008; honored several key Southern Baptist leaders for their contributions to the advancement of African American participation in Convention causes (for example, during its 2004 annual meeting, the Network honored Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. for his commitment to provide black church and intercultural studies at the seminary and his commitment to employ African American faculty and staff); and hosted two Southern Baptist African American History Project seminars in conjunction with the 2003 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, and the 2004 SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In the inaugural issue of the Journal, Executive Editor in Chief Sid Smith listed a timeline containing twenty-five milestones of racial progress for African American churches and church leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention. Called “Ten Years of Racial Progress in the SBC, 1992–2002,” a few of these findings noted such things as (a) progress in Baptist associations calling African Americans to serve as director of missions; (b) vice presidents elected to serve the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board as well as one of the seminaries; and (c) Southern Baptist seminaries increasing the number of African American faculty and increasing their focus on African American church studies, “even to the point of a doctoral program in African American Church Leadership.”
Other findings noted (d) dramatic increases in attendance at Black Church Leadership Week at Ridgecrest and Glorieta; (e) SBC boards and committees included a “dramatic increase” in African Americans; (f) an African American delivered the annual sermon at the SBC; (g) two state conventions called “a man of color” to serve as executive director; and (h) SBC agencies opening mainstream management positions to African Americans.
The final item on the list pointed to the “exponential proliferation of African American churches in the SBC” as “a contemporary phenomenon in church history,” a fact attested to in the previous section of this report.
Members of SBC Committees and Trustee Boards. It is widely perceived that the momentum Smith observed, that “SBC boards and committees included a ‘dramatic increase’ in African Americans,” was not sustained into the twenty-first century. Statistical records of the racial or ethnic identity of individuals elected or appointed to serve on the boards and committees of the Southern Baptist Convention have not been solicited nor kept on a consistent basis, so there is no hard evidence to which one can point without doing an exhaustive review of thousands of individuals appointed to serve on SBC committees and elected to serve on SBC committees and boards.
Using the eighty-three-member Executive Committee as a representative body of the composition of the other board and committees of the Convention, the Executive Committee reviewed its own composition during the twenty years since the adoption of the Racial Reconciliation Resolution. If the membership of the Executive Committee serves as a microcosm of the other boards and committees, the presence of the intercultural make-up of the Convention was (and is) sorely lacking. Of the 249 individuals nominated and elected to serve on the Executive Committee since 1996, no more than eight were from non-Anglo racial or ethnic groups, representing only 3.2 percent of the members nominated and elected to this committee.
The 2011 Report anticipated a formal, consistent mechanism would be set in place to encourage selection of a wider diversity of representation on the boards and committees of the Convention. In 2014, Executive Committee staff discovered that the nomination form used by the Committee on Committees had not been amended in 2011, a situation which has since been remedied (see below).
However, since the Ethnic Study Committee Report was adopted in 2011, as shown in the following section of the report, the three presidents who have been elected have taken the initiative to make appointments that reflect the intercultural diversity of the Convention. The fact that such a careful process on the part of the SBC presidents has yielded a more balanced intercultural mix of nominees points to the need for such a formal mechanism for all positions, whether appointed by the SBC President or nominated by the Committee on Committees and the Committee on Nominations.
An Update on the 2011 Report
In the four years since the adoption of the ten SBC-focused recommendations contained in the SBC-adopted “Directing the Executive Committee to Study Greater SBC Involvement for Ethnic Churches and Leaders,” the following action steps have been taken by various SBC entities, committees, and leaders.
- In tandem with the adoption of the Ethnic Study Report in 2011, EC President and CEO Frank S. Page, during his inaugural Executive Committee report, invited leaders of each SBC entity, the cooperating state Baptist convention executive directors, and presidents of more than twenty ethnic fellowships that participate in Southern Baptist life and ministry to join him in signing an “Affirmation of Unity and Cooperation,” pledging trust and cooperation between all ethnicities and races in order to “engage all people groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- The Executive Committee, as part of its annual “data call” from the Southern Baptist Convention entities, has requested a descriptive report of participation of ethnic churches and church leaders in the life and ministry of the respective SBC entity for 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
- The Executive Committee amended the SBC President’s Notebook given to each newly-elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention to include a section encouraging the president to give special attention to appointing individuals who represent the diversity within the Convention, and particularly ethnic diversity, among his appointees to the various committees under his purview (Committee on Committees, Credentials Committee, Resolutions Committee, and Tellers) and encouraging the president to encourage the selection of annual meeting program personalities by the Committee on Order of Business that represent the ethnic diversity within the Southern Baptist Convention.
- The SBC president reported the ethnic and racial diversity of appointees he selects for the committees under his purview in 2012, 2013, and 2015, with the descriptive information printed in the respective SBC Daily Bulletins, SBC Annual, or the SBC President’s Page on SBC.net.
- The Executive Committee has requested the seven-member SBC Committee on Order of Business (six elected members and the SBC President) to give due consideration to the ethnic identity of program personalities it enlists for each Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, chronicling each year’s program personalities.
- In 2011, the Executive Committee amended the nomination form used by the Committee on Nominations to provide a place where a nominee may indicate his or her ethnic identity, should he or she so choose. During the 2014 SBC annual meeting, the Executive Committee observed that the nomination form used by the Committee on Committees lacked a place where a nominee may indicate his or her ethnic identity. The Executive Committee has since amended the nomination form used by that committee.
- The SBC entities continue to give due consideration to the recruitment of students, production of resources, offering of services, and employment of qualified individuals to serve in the various professional staff positions, on seminary faculty, and as appointed missionaries in order to reflect the intercultural diversity within Southern Baptist life as reported in the annual “data call” report contained in the Ministry Reports submitted to the Cooperative Program committee of the Executive Committee each winter and posted online at SBC.net/CP/Ministry Reports. The Executive Committee Communications Workgroup has reviewed the intercultural component of the Ministry Reports at its February meeting each year since 2011.
- The Executive Committee, through its various publications and news outlets, continues to provide news coverage of interest to individuals of all ethnicities and to carry stories that demonstrate the wonderful works the Lord is accomplishing through the vital ministries of Baptists of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” A search of Baptist Press and SBC LIFE, using search terms relative to specific ethnic and racial groups or fellowships such as, for example, NAAF, Chinese churches, Korean churches, Native American, Deaf ministry, messianic, and a myriad of other terms, will yield scores of returns. Historical articles such as those written on the fiftieth anniversary in 2013 of the Birmingham church bombing and an historical review of ethnic participation in the Convention at the time Fred Luter was elected SBC president in 2012 are also routinely sprinkled throughout these two news outlets for Southern Baptists.
- Other Executive Committee-produced publications, such as the Forged by Faith fi lm series, Meet Southern Baptists, and The Southern Baptist Convention: A Closer Look, include images that reflect the diversity of the Convention.
- In concert with the North American Mission Board, the president of the Executive Committee has appointed four ethnic advisory councils (Hispanic, 2011; African American 2012; Asian American, 2013; and Multi-Ethnic, 2014), requesting reports from each advisory council designed to assist the EC, NAMB, and the other SBC entities in understanding and appreciating the perspectives the various racial and ethnic churches and church leaders bring to the common task of reaching the nation and the world with the Gospel, and to provide information, insight, and counsel to NAMB and EC staff relative to the special needs and concerns of the many ethnic churches and church leaders in the Southern Baptist network of churches. The first two have completed their three-year assignments and have submitted their reports to Executive Committee President Frank S. Page. They are posted under the “Ethnic Participation” tab at www.sbc.net/cp/ministryreports/2014/sbcec.asp.
- In concert with the six seminaries and Union University, the Executive Committee hosted an Intercultural Educational Summit to further discussions with numerous racial and ethnic leaders about how best to deliver educational opportunities for God-called pastors from non-Anglo Southern Baptist churches.
- Working in concert, the North American Mission Board and the Executive Committee have hosted the “Many Faces of the SBC” booth in the exhibit hall at the SBC annual meeting in 2012, 2013, 2014, and will again in 2015, and has conducted numerous interviews with ethnic church leaders at the Cooperative Program booth in the exhibit area. The high visibility of the many faces of the SBC in the exhibit hall and in the SBC annual meeting sessions of the SBC has raised the visibility of ethnic church leaders in Convention life and provided numerous opportunities for networking and ministry throughout the Convention.
- The SBC Executive Committee employed its first two non-Anglo professional employees, Diana Chandler, general feature writer/ editor, and Ken Weathersby, vice president for Convention advancement, and has subsequently enlisted its first Hispanic and Asian ministry consultants.
- As noted above, the Southern Baptist Convention elected its first African American president in 2012, one of only five presidents over the past forty years who was elected by acclamation in two successive years, and had a Korean presidential nominee in 2014 who received more than 40 percent of the vote.
- In response to the killings of unarmed African Americans in 2014, ERLC hosted a Racial Reconciliation Summit in Nashville in late March 2015.
- In light of the continuing “globalization” of the American population, NAMB hosted a two-day summit in April 2015 of more than twenty Southern Baptist leaders representing numerous ethnic and racial groups to discuss “current outreach efforts” and to “explore how NAMB can effectively help plant churches for diverse populations in cooperation with” the ethnic and racial fellowships that cooperate with the SBC.
The hundreds of pages of information referenced in this brief report demonstrate that much has been accomplished over the past twenty years in regard to increased racial and ethnic diversity in the life of the Convention, both in terms of awareness and participation. The data indicate that many potential barriers to participation have been identified and are being systematically addressed. There are also numerous sign-posts indicating a higher degree of inclusion of individuals of every race and tribe and tongue in the total fabric of Convention life. And, clearly the conversation has changed: increased participation of individuals of all ethnic and racial backgrounds is a topic of intense interest and frequent discussion at all levels of Southern Baptist life.
We rejoice that individuals of many races and ethnicities are routinely nominated and elected to key leadership roles in state Baptist convention and SBC life.
We celebrate the tremendous growth in the number of churches and church members from every kindred and tongue and tribe and nation that we have experienced since 1995.
We applaud the numerous proactive steps our SBC ministry entities have taken to enlist qualified individuals of all races and ethnicities for senior staff positions; to serve on faculty; to be appointed as missionaries and church planters; to write, edit, and produce Christian resources; to service the retirement needs of pastors and church staff; to raise awareness of the moral issues confronting our nation; to equip leaders; and to otherwise serve our churches in a variety of ways.
We affirm efforts taken by our ethnic fellowships and advisory councils to promote increased Cooperative Program support in their respective churches, encourage enrollment in all levels of Bible college and seminary training (including PhD programs), challenge church members to respond to God’s call for overseas and domestic missions and church planting, and serve as salt and light in their communities.
We humbly acknowledge the appropriateness of having repented of our Convention’s past complicity with the systemic racism that marked our country, rather than having challenged our churches and our country to tear down entrenched social structures of inequality, hostility, and prejudice. We further acknowledge the propriety of clearly stating in our confessional statement that racism is a sin against Almighty God and against our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Indeed, we give thanks that, as a network of autonomous churches, we seek to reflect the intercultural diversity that reflects what the gathered church will look like in heaven and should look like on earth as a display of God’s glory.
However, the materials referenced in this report also reveal that more can and needs to be done. This is especially true in regard to proportional representation on SBC committees and boards.
To that end, the Executive Committee formally and humbly suggests the following action steps be undertaken for at least the next five years so that they become ingrained in our normal way of doing business.
- That the president of the SBC report the racial and ethnic composition of the committees and group he appoints each year— the Committee on Committees, the Resolutions Committee, the Credentials Committee, and the Tellers—through Baptist Press; that the SBC Executive Committee include this report in the Daily Bulletin, Tuesday, Part 1; and that the SBC Recording Secretary include this report in the proceedings of the Convention when the president announces his appointments.
- That each state/regional member of the Committee on Committees have a sufficient number of potential nominees to the Committee on Nominations to recommend to the full Committee on Committees so that the Committee on Committees will be able to propose a Committee on Nominations that reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of the Convention; and that the chairman of the Committee on Committees give special attention that, as much as possible, the final report reflects this intercultural diversity.
- That each member of the Committee on Nominations solicit a sufficient number of potential nominees for the vacancies on the boards and committees of the Convention for which he or she is responsible so that the full Committee will be able to present to the Convention a list of nominees that builds or sustains equitable racial and ethnic diversity on each SBC board and committee; and that the chairman of the Committee on Nominations give special attention that, as much as possible, the final report reflects this intercultural diversity.
- That the chairmen of the Committee on Committees and Committee on Nominations report the racial and ethnic composition of the committees and boards they nominate each year (along with other information such as representative church sizes, average CP giving of nominees’ churches, baptism ratios, representative ages, and gender considerations) when their reports are released through Baptist Press; that the SBC Executive Committee include these reports in the Daily Bulletin, Tuesday, Part 2; and that the SBC Recording Secretary include these reports in the proceedings of the Convention when the chairmen move the adoption of their respective reports.
- That the editors of Baptist Press, SBC LIFE, and the state Baptist publications make use of the information contained in the annual Ministry Reports submitted by the SBC entities to the SBC Executive Committee each February and the entity reports printed in the SBC Book of Reports each June to tell the good news of what God continues to do through the life and ministry of our SBC entities, giving particular attention to the participation of ethnic churches and church leaders in the ministries of the respective entities.
- That our cooperating state Baptist conventions, local associations, and racial and ethnic fellowships encourage all cooperating Southern Baptist churches to submit an annual church profile for these prevailing reasons: (1) the information contained in the ACP routinely serves as the basis for determining whether a church, regardless of its racial or ethnic identity, fully cooperates with the Convention, and is used by the SBC President, Committee on Committees, and Committee on Nominations to determine if an appointee or a proposed nominee is “qualified” as representing a fully supportive, cooperating church; (2) it is unlikely that someone from churches that fail to submit an ACP will be selected to serve the Convention, with the result that the diversity their church brings to the Convention remains unknown, uncelebrated, and unrepresented; and (3) the information contained in the ACP becomes part of an aggregated total that serves as a report card to ourselves to inform us on how we are doing as a network of churches to impact the lostness across our nation through evangelism, discipleship, missions, church planting, attendance, and stewardship and to spur us to address areas of apparent weakness in these key areas of Christian responsibility.
- That the Executive Committee, each SBC entity, each cooperating state Baptist convention, and each racial and ethnic fellowship seek to educate all Southern Baptist churches, especially those that do not have a history with the SBC, that Cooperative Program giving serves as the primary means of measuring a church’s support for its state Baptist convention and SBC missions and ministries. While the Convention celebrates the generous support of Southern Baptists as they channel giving to Great Commission causes through their churches, the Convention voted in 2010 to “continue to honor and affirm the Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and extending our outreach,” affirming that “designated gifts to special causes are to be given as a supplement to the Cooperative Program and not as a substitute for Cooperative Program giving.” (emphasis supplied)
The Executive Committee observes that none of these steps answers the fundamental question about whether reconciliation has occurred in individual Baptists’ lives. Reconciliation is, at its core, a spiritual concept. True reconciliation is a condition of the heart. It is a restoring of right relationships between formerly estranged individuals or groups. It begins with fallen individuals being reconciled with God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18–21; Colossians 1:21–23). When separated from its redemptive roots, racial reconciliation, while laudable, is merely a humanistic achievement; but when grounded in the Gospel, it demonstrates the majesty and goodness of God’s grace.
Once an individual has been reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, the indwelling Holy Spirit begins a sanctification process in his/her redeemed spirit, targeting such destructive emotions as prejudice, anger, malice, and bitterness (John 4:9–42; Ephesians 4:30–32), replacing them with divine qualities such as love, joy, longsuffering, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23).
Such a radical transformation provides the fertile soil for reconciliation between both individuals and groups. In Christ, the “dividing wall of hostility” between brothers and sisters is torn down (Ephesians 2:14). The Lord creates “in Himself one new man from the two” and reconciles “both to God in one body through the cross,” putting the former “hostility to death” (Ephesians 2:15–16). The resultant peace cannot be given by the world (John 14:27). It is a transforming peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
The referred motion raised the question about how Southern Baptists, facilitated by the Convention’s entities and seminaries, can “better reach, make disciples, and raise up leadership from and among diverse racial and ethnic groups in North America.”
Simply stated, the answer is to stay the course that is currently in place and intentionally implement the proactive steps enumerated above. Heightened awareness of the need to be more broadly inclusive leads to greater sensitivity to where we are and where we need to be. Greater sensitivity leads to intentional accountability, both in monitoring specific accomplishments and in celebrating continued progress through routine news reports and day-to-day conversations.
We pray God will use and bless this report for His Kingdom purposes. Respectfully submitted, the Executive Committee, June 15, 2015.
Recommendations Related to the Executive Committee Report
A Review of Ethnic Church and
Ethnic Church Leader Participation in SBC Life
Adopted by messengers to the
2011 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting
Recommendation 5: SBC Referral: Directing the Executive Committee to Study Greater SBC Involvement for Ethnic Churches and Leaders
After extensive study of a 2009 motion, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention makes the following recommendations designed to foster conscious awareness of the need to be proactive and intentional in the inclusion of individuals from all ethnic and racial identities within Southern Baptist life and recommends the Southern Baptist Convention request:
- The Executive Committee to request from the Southern Baptist Convention entities to submit as part of its annual “data call” [as described in Bylaw 18E (12)], a descriptive report of participation of ethnic churches and church leaders in the life and ministry of the respective SBC entity; and
- The Executive Committee to include a section in the SBC President’s Notebook given to each newly-elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention encouraging the president to give special attention to appointing individuals who represent the diversity within the Convention, and particularly ethnic diversity, among his appointees to the various committees under his purview (Committee on Committees, Credentials Committee, Resolutions Committee, and Tellers Committee); and
- The SBC president to report the total number of appointees he selects for the committees under his purview that represent the ethnic diversity within Southern Baptist life at the time the names of the committees are released to Baptist Press; and
- The Executive Committee to include a section in the SBC President’s Notebook encouraging the president to encourage the selection of annual meeting program personalities by the Committee on Order of Business that represent the ethnic diversity within the Southern Baptist Convention; and
- The Committee on Order of Business to give due consideration to the ethnic identity of program personalities it enlists for each Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting; and
- The Executive Committee to amend the nomination form for the Committee on Nominations to provide a place where a nominee may indicate his or her ethnic identity, should he or she so choose; and
- The Committee on Nominations to include in its annual report the total number of new nominees and the total number of individuals among its nominees that represent the ethnic diversity within Southern Baptist life; and
- The SBC entities to give due consideration to the recruitment and employment of qualified individuals to serve in the various professional staff positions, on seminary faculty, and as appointed missionaries in order to reflect well the ethnic diversity within Southern Baptist life; and
- The Executive Committee, through its various publications and news outlets, to continue to provide news coverage of interest to individuals of all ethnic interests and to carry stories that demonstrate the wonderful works the Lord is accomplishing through the vital ministries of Baptists of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation”; and
- The Executive Committee, through its Communications Workgroup, to receive a report from the Executive Committee staff in its February meeting each year concerning the participation of ethnic churches and church leaders in the life and ministry of the SBC entities as reported through the various means outlined in this recommendation (letters a. through i. above); and
The Executive Committee further recommends the Southern Baptist Convention respectfully request the Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference and other groups which meet as part of the larger event of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting be sensitive to the desire of our ethnic brothers and sisters in Christ to see and hear individuals from their respective cultural heritages address attendees of these related groups; and
The Executive Committee further recommends the Southern Baptist Convention strongly encourage church workers and leaders from all ethnic backgrounds within Southern Baptist life to involve themselves to the highest level possible in associational life and through state convention ministries so that their participation in broader denominational life becomes the platform from which their greater involvement in visible roles of leadership in the Convention will naturally follow.
 “Proceedings of the SBC Annual Meeting, 138th Session, 150th Year, June 20–22, 1995: Item 82,” 1995 SBC Annual, pp. 80-81.
 “Proceedings of the SBC Annual Meeting, 157th Session, 169th Year, June 10–11, 2014: Items 15 and 55,” 2014 SBC Annual, pp. 59, 78.
 “Proceedings of the SBC Annual Meeting, 152nd Session, 164th Year, June 23–24, 2009: Items 15 and 50,” 2009 SBC Annual, pp. 57, 74.
 “Executive Committee Ministry Report to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Matters Referred by the Convention, “Item 14: Directing the Executive Committee to Study Greater SBC Involvement for Ethnic Churches and Leaders,” 2011 SBC Annual, pp. 138–142.
 “Proceedings of the SBC Annual Meeting, 154th Session, 166th Year, June 14–15, 2011: Item 38,” 2011 SBC Annual, pp. 70–71.
 “Minutes,” Inter-Agency Council, 5 March 1996, pp. 8–9; and “SBC Inter-Agency Council Names Racial Reconciliation Task Force,” SBC LIFE, May 1996, www.sbclife.net/ Articles/1996/05/sla7.
 See “SBC Inter-Agency Council Names” in Endnote 7.
 “Minutes,” Racial Reconciliation Task Force, 23 May 1996.
 Herb Hollinger, “Arson fund disbursement to states tops $700,000,” Baptist Press, 16 January 1997.
 Herb Hollinger, “ITF hears NAMB concerns from racial task force,” Baptist Press, 7 April 1997.
 Art Toalston, “Unspent Arson Fund could boost training for African Americans,” Baptist Press, 29 May 1997.
 Dwayne Hastings, “SBC task force calls for increased emphasis on racial reconciliation,” Baptist Press, 16 February 1999.
 Lonnie Wilkey, “Election of vice presidents gives diversity to SBC posts,” Baptist Press, 15 June 1994.
 David Winfrey, “SBC President Jim Henry re-elected to second term,” Baptist Press, 21 June 1995.
 “Minutes,” Racial Reconciliation Task Force, 23 May 1996.
 Lonnie Wilkey, “Okla. Pastor Tom Elliff elected SBC president without opposition,” Baptist Press, 12 June 1996.
 Barbara Denman, “Fred Luter elected as SBC 1st VP,” Baptist Press, 15 June 2011.
 Karen Willoughby. “Historic: Fred Luter elected SBC president,” Baptist Press, 19 June 2012.
 John Evans, “Luter sails to second term as SBC president,” Baptist Press, 11 June 2013.
 Michael Foust, “WRAP-UP: Messengers elect Johnny Hunt president, launch ‘GPS’ initiative,” Baptist Press, 13 June 2008.
 Willoughby, Endnote 21.
 Statistics compiled from annual reports of officer elections in Baptist Press and the 1996–2014 SBC Annuals.
 “Proceedings of the SBC Annual Meeting, 157th Session, 169th Year, June 10–11, 2014: Items 33 and 39,” 2014 SBC Annual, p. 68.
 “Twenty-Two State/Regional Conventions have Elected Non-Anglos to serve as State Convention Presidents,” a side-bar to David Roach, “Ethnic Participation in Convention Ministry: A Historical Perspective on the Election of Fred Luter,” SBC LIFE, October 2012, www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2012/10/sla5.
 “Nev. Baptists elect first black president,” Baptist Press, 21 November 2014; and Lonnie Wilkey, “Ellis first black pres. of Tenn. Convention,” Baptist Press, 13 November 2014.
 “Article XXI, Social Service,” The Baptist Faith and Message, 1925; and “Article XV, The Christian and the Social Order,” The Baptist Faith and Message, 1963.
 “Article XV, The Christian and the Social Order,” The Baptist Faith and Message, 2000.
 “Article III, Man, and Article VI, The Church,” The Baptist Faith and Message, 2000.
 Kevin Ezell, “Church plants: 5% gain in 2014,” Baptist Press, 17 March 2015.
 Analysis provided by Executive Committee staff from statistics compiled by the North American Mission Board’s Center for Missional Research and Annual Church Profile reports from LifeWay Christian Resources, 1998 and 2013.
 Anecdotal testimonies of members of the SBC Executive Committee Workgroup.
 See Endnote 34.
 Twentieth Anniversary Banquet Program, National African American Fellowship, SBC, Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Maryland, June 9, 2014.
 The Journal of African American Southern Baptist History, vols. 1–6, June 2003 through June 2008.
 See, for example, Karen Willoughby, “Black denominational network gives key award to Mohler,” Baptist Press, 15 June 2004.
 Karen Willoughby, “Denominational Servant’s Network takes stock of year’s milestones,” Baptist Press, 17 June, 2003; and “Minutes,” Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servant’s Network, 3 August 2004.
 Sid Smith, “Ten Years of Racial Progress in the SBC,” The Journal of African American Southern Baptist History, vol. 1 (June 2003), pp. 12–13.
 Ibid., pp. 12-13.
 Ibid., p. 13.
 Statistics derived from a review of the annual Pictorial Directories published by the Executive Committee, 1995–1996 through 2014–2015.
 “Proceedings of the SBC Annual Meeting, 154th Session, 166th Year, June 14–15, 2011: Item 29,” 2011 SBC Annual, pp. 59–60.
 “Review of Ethnic Churches and Church Leaders,” an annual report created for the SBC Executive Committee Communications Workgroup (discussion only), for the February Executive Committee meeting for each of the following years: 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
 SBC President Background Orientation Materials, compiled by the SBC Executive Committee and provided to each newly-elected SBC president, section 1, paragraph C, “Participation and Inclusion,” and paragraph D, “Diversity Encouragement and Reporting Requirements,” language added Summer 2011.
 “Proceedings of the SBC Annual Meeting, 155th Session, 167th Year, June 19–20, 2012: Item 10,” 2012 SBC Annual, p. 58; “Proceedings of the SBC Annual Meeting, 156th Session, 168th Year, June 11–12, 2013: Item 9,” 2013 SBC Annual, pp. 58; Ronnie Floyd, “Our 2015 Committee on Committees of the Southern Baptist Convention,” www.SBC.net/presidentspage/article.asp?id=102, posted 16 March 2015; and Ronnie Floyd, “Introducing our 2015 SBC Committee on Resolutions,” www.SBC.net/presidentspage/article.asp?id=105, posted 30 March 2015.
 Committee on Order of Business Background and Orientation Materials, compiled by the SBC Executive Committee and provided to each year’s elected Committee on Order of Business.
 Committee on Nominations “SBC Recommendation and Information” form, compiled by the SBC Executive Committee and provided to each year’s SBC Committee on Nominations, amended Summer 2011.
 Committee on Committees “Nominee for Service” form, compiled by the SBC Executive Committee and provided to each year’s SBC Committee on Committees, amended Summer 2014.
 Agenda of the SBC Executive Committee Communications Workgroup, February 17, 2015; February 18, 2014; February 19, 2013; and February 21, 2012.
 David Roach, “Church bombing fueled their hearts’ passion,” Baptist Press, 4 October 2013.
 David Roach, “Ethnic Participation in Convention Ministry: A Historical Perspective on the Election of Fred Luter,” SBC LIFE, October 2012, www.SBCLife.net/articles/2012/10/sla5.
 For representative stories, conduct appropriate searches at www.SBCLife.net and www. BPNews.net.
 See www.SBC.net/forgedbyfaith/, www.SBC.net/pdf/MeetSouthernBaptists.pdf, and www. SBC.net/pdf/ACloserLook.pdf.
 See Hispanic Advisory Council news reports: www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2011/10/sla5; www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2012/03/sla9, www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2013/05/sla14.asp; and www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2014/05/sla5; www. SBCLife.net/Articles/2012/03/sla9; African American Council news reports, http://www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2012/03/sla10; www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2012/06/sla8; www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2013/05/sla14.asp; http://www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2014/03/sla9.asp; and www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2014/09/ sla14; Asian Advisory Council news reports: www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2013/03/sla15; http://www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2013/05/sla14.asp;http://www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2014/05/ sla6.asp; and www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2015/05/sla12; and Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council news reports: http://www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2014/05/sla7.asp and www.SBCLife.net/ Articles/2015/05/sla9.
 Roger S. Oldham, “Executive Committee Receives Input from Advisory Groups,” SBC LIFE, May 2013, www.SBCLife.net/Articles/2013/05/sla14; and Rebecca Wolford, Southern Baptist Seminaries Respond to Changing Needs,” SBC LIFE, June 2013, www.SBCLife.net/ Articles/2013/06/sla8.
 For a representative news story, see Andrew Walker, “CP Booth to Express Appreciation, Show Support, Highlight ‘Many Faces’ of SBC,” SBC LIFE, June 2012, www.SBCLife.net/ Articles/2012/06/sla7.
 For a representative news story, see Joni B. Hannigan, “Panel: Diversity for the sake of Kingdom,” Baptist Press, 27 June 2014.
 “Diana Chandler joins Baptist Press staff,” Baptist Press, 26 March 2012.
 Diana Chandler, “Ken Weathersby named EC vice president,” Baptist Press, 18 March 2013.
 SBC Annuals, 1975–2014. Research conducted by Executive Committee staff.
 Barbara Denman, “Ronnie Floyd wins Southern Baptist Convention presidency,” Baptist Press, 10 June 2014.
 Tom Strode, “ERLC summit: Reconciliation is Gospel imperative,” Baptist Press, 27 March 2015.
 K. Faith Morgan, “Ethnic summit seeks to reach diverse population,” Baptist Press, 20 May 2015.
 Quotation from Recommendation 3 of the Final Report of the Great Commission Task Force of the Southern Baptist Convention, “Proceedings of the SBC Annual Meeting, 153rd Session, 165th Year, June 15–16, 2010: Items 73–97,” 2010 SBC Annual, pp. 77–98.
 “Executive Committee Ministry Report to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Matters Referred by the Convention, “Item 14: Directing the Executive Committee to Study Greater SBC Involvement for Ethnic Churches and Leaders,” 2011 SBC Annual, pp. 138–142.