Although it seems much longer, it has now been nine and a half weeks since Southern Baptists in New Orleans approved the informal descriptor “Great Commission Baptists.” At the time, I sat in a well known New Orleans eatery and ordered a “Po Boy at Mothers” while quipping that, because some people did not like this traditional name, we should at least be given the option of referring to the sandwich as a “Rich Girl at Fathers.”
While the new sandwich descriptor is not catching on, the same can certainly be said for the new SBC moniker. By now, even the least conscientious webmaster has had sufficient time to make any changes required by his or her supervisor. Is it fair to assume, by this point, that if an organization in Baptist life was going to use the new descriptor, it would already be featured prominently on their promotional literature, website, letterhead and other public correspondence?
Southern Baptists called press conferences concerning this issue. We formed a committee that the convention never said it wanted. After hours and hours of deliberation, including the consulting of legal teams, a recommendation was offered. Media reports picked up the story. Interviews were conducted. Finally, the vote was taken. It passed, in an underwhelming 52% to 48% decision.
I had previously argued that, although a process for changing the denomination’s name was not specifically mentioned in the bylaws, even an optional name change should require the same kind of 2/3 majority vote the bylaws required whenever entities changed their names. Had my excellent advice been heeded, the descriptor would not have passed.
Oh, the disappointment! How things might have been different if only this had not passed!
Please correct me if I am uninformed. I would love to hear specific examples of the implementation of this new descriptor that proponents claimed was so desperately needed in Southern Baptist life. Thus far, this is all I’ve got:
- Congratulations to Pastor Derin Stidd at Living Well Church in Columbia, Indiana, whose website features the title “The Living Well” followed by the subheading “A Great Commission Baptist Church.” As nearly as I can tell, Pastor Derin was the first to adopt the new moniker, although his Facebook page still identifies them as a “Southern Baptist Church.”
- My friend and our fearless leader Dave Miller had mentioned that they might do something similar at Southern Hills Baptist Church, but so far his website only references Southern Baptists.
- On Monday, February 20, 2012, when the Task Force first announced the new descriptor, Al Mohler tweeted: “Let the word go forth: THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary proudly is a Great Commission Baptists institution.” While as a Southwesterner, I appreciate Dr. Mohler’s need to hit the word “The” like the college football players do on television, I cannot help but wonder if he was so proud of the name in February prior to its approval, then why is it nowhere to be found on his website in August following its approval?
- Although Pastor Brent Hobbs of the Severn Baptist Church in Severn, North Carolina, does not reference “Great Commission Baptists” on their church website, he did point out that one of his church members changed her religious affiliation on Facebook to Great Commission Baptist. He then asked, “Counts for something, right?”
Yes, Brent, indeed it counts for something! Currently, that Facebook religious affiliation change, along with the aforementioned descriptor now being used at Living Well Church, provide all Southern Baptists with a more profound justification of this ground breaking name change effort than any other concrete evidence I have been able to find.
Brent, please pass on to your church member my sincere hope that she is enjoying her new Facebook religious affiliation. Its usage came at a price. Many Southern Baptists labored for hours discussing the topic in meetings and performing legal research, developing this critical strategy and promoting this significant descriptor in order that she might, with a completely clear conscience and the full blessing of the Southern Baptist Convention, amend her Facebook religious affiliation to a term that is more to her liking.
Does anyone else know of any other Southern Baptist Churches or institutions making use of this new descriptor? In the words of Ben Stein from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off… “Anyone? Anyone?”