The year’s not over but it’s still time to review the top SBC news items for 2018. If stuff happens in December other than all the brethren and sistren stuffing themselves with Christmas fare, I’ll do an update. This year saw more newsworthy items in the SBC than for many years past.
The election of a next generation president: J. D. Greear. The SBC presidential election was hotly contested. It shouldn’t have been but this is our system, our practice, and our preference. Sadly, the election between two outstanding men was framed as a contest between cooperative and societal giving, and between Traditionalism and Calvinism. Zealous Trad supporters probably damaged the splendid and accomplished Ken Hemphill’s chances although I doubt there was ever much of a chance anyway. Greear won handily. He has done and will do well.
David Platt quit IMB, new CEO hired. Our oldest, largest, and most important entity, the International Mission Board, lost their next gen leader, David Platt, in an odd fashion (he resigned but stuck around for another six months). The trustees settled on a seasoned denominational administrator, Paul Chitwood, as his successor. Both are good men. Might as well find where in ministry that you are best equipped for success and satisfaction and move there. It’s all above my pay grade. Never underestimate stability as a value in the long haul. IMB now has its fourth CEO in seven years. The transitions have been, best I can see from the hinterlands, as smooth as is possible under the circumstances.
Billy Graham died. The supra-Southern Baptist evangelist was in his 100th year. He defined the era of the grand evangelistic crusade and had many, many imitators but no equals. Most every SBC seminary student could hold their Bible just so and declare ‘The Bible says!’ a la BG. His work will endure, not the least import of which was his circumspect personal life. God, give us more like him.
The Paige Patterson mess: retired, then fired. Never, to my knowledge, has the convention in session rejected so overwhelmingly a motion to overturn a trustee personnel decision. There are parts of this that make some SBCers sad, some glad, some mad, and some all three. Let’s move on, brethren and sistren.
Twilight of the Trads. Concurrent with the Patterson mess came the sudden and complete meltdown of the SBC Traditionalist organization. The whole thing was Wagnerian, brethren, with gods and demigods, warriors (none females, though), monsters, and gnarled sycophants. Their leadership left. Their popular website went kaput. Their organization went into hibernation. If the SBC is indeed composed of mostly folks who follow “traditional” (i.e., not Calvinistic) theology, then why can’t some Traditionalist theological sub-group exist and exercise influence? Has me flummoxed, frankly. I’m all for some kind of restart in this.
Frank Page, and others, resign for immorality. His was a hard blow. No need to expand on it.
JDG appoints sex abuse group, and that partly in response to the events surrounding Patterson and the #metoo and #metoochurch stuff. The ERLC will manage the study. They’ve already launched it and the news releases on it include “constellation,” “orbits,” and “solar system.” Weird. One hopes that their prime directive comes from the struggles and issues of the 47k SBC churches and their millions of men, women, and children who want an environment where they are safe. I presume that is the case for this study group.
Housing allowance is on appeal. Last year the cash clergy housing allowance was declared unconstitutional by a federal district judge. This year appeals were heard. Either late this year or next, we will get the federal appeals court ruling. If the district court decision is upheld, then I’d guess it’s on to the SCOTUS for final resolution. For now, max your HA out.
SBC state convention CEO changes. Several large state conventions had leadership changes. The old school, old line pattern of denominational leadership is passing away. Sorry, but nothing is more sclerotic than the segment of the SBC that spends most of the Cooperative Program revenues. Not that the greybeards did anything wrong or weren’t and aren’t wonderful people and dedicated denominational servants, but things have changed. The less our churches and other structures look like post-industrial, mid-20th century models the better equipped we are for the future. One almost wishes for a complete re-start of state conventions, like the restaurants that completely demolish their dated structures and design a completely new one.
Both of our big mission offerings were splendid. The Lottie Moon total was second highest in history at $158.9m. SBCers value IMB work regardless of what else is happening. The Annie Armstrong offering was a record $61.1m. Note that the most highly criticized entity, NAMB, gets a record offering and the largest entity, IMB, which has been in some leadership flux, gets almost a record offering. What’s that say about SBs? That the people in the pews think different than some critics in SBC life.
This is a list of ten. There are more. Add yours in a comment if you wish. Honarable mentions for my list include:
- John Chau. Not a Southern Baptist but generating a lot of SB response. Sad case but thank God for our IMB.
- Paul Pressler news. None good.
- Sex abuser exposed, SBC leaders fail to report. There was too much news concerning the SBC that involves clergy abusing underage church members. This one involved both the IMB and the South Carolina Baptist Convention. It is a disgrace that we ever just fire an abuser and send them along to another SBC church or entity position.
- I had the best freshwater fishing day of my life earlier this year. I doubt I can top it but will make some attempts anyway.
- Dave Miller is down something like a million pounds. Good work.
- While others dawdled, I scored a room in the SBC convention HQ for Birmingham. See you there.
You can add your own. My SBC radar doesn’t catch everything. Plus, I forget stuff.