SBC re-elects Luter, hears call for unity, revival
Jun 19, 2013

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HOUSTON (BP)—Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention June 11-12 re-elected Fred Luter, the body’s first African American president, to another one-year term and heard him deliver a rousing challenge to Southern Baptists to unite and pray for revival.

The call for cooperation and revival was delivered by other leaders, including Executive Committee President Frank Page, and from members of a Calvinism advisory committee who spoke in the exhibit hall the day prior to the convention. 

“Could it be,” Luter asked during a special Tuesday evening service focused on revival, “that the reason that lost friend, that lost relative, that lost co-worker, that lost neighbor, that lost classmate, have not yet turned from darkness to light is because they don’t see us as the body of Christ getting along? Friend, how is it that we say we love God, whom we’ve never seen, yet don’t speak to our brother and sister that we see every day?”

Messengers also passed 12 resolutions that covered a variety of issues, including one that expressed “our continued opposition to and disappointment in” the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow homosexual members. The resolution affirmed the right of churches to determine their affiliation with the Scouts. 

Another resolution that garnered significant attention addressed mental health, calling on Southern Baptists to fight the “stigmatization and prejudice” of those with mental health concerns and to “love and minister to” them. It passed in light of the suicidal death of Rick Warren’s youngest son and the publication of a new book by Page about the suicide of his daughter Melissa. 

BP Photo by Thomas Graham
Luter was elected unopposed, getting a standing ovation from the messengers when Registration Secretary Jim Wells cast the ceremonial ballot for the convention. 

The overwhelming majority of the 5,100 registered messengers came to a special revival-focused Tuesday night service—the annual meeting hadn’t had night sessions the previous two years—where Charles Billingsley of Thomas Road Baptist Church (Lynchburg, Va.) led congregational worship in music for more than 45 minutes, likely a record in recent SBC history. Luter delivered his presidential sermon. 

For revival to fall on the SBC, Luter said in his message from John 13:34-35, Southern Baptists must have a love for the Scripture, the Savior and the saints (fellow Christians). Luter gave the most attention to the final point—the need for Southern Baptists to love one another.

The roadblock to a revival, Luter said, may be that the lost world does not see Christians loving one another with unconditional love. 

Southern Baptists “will never see revival in the world until we first see revival in the church,” Luter said. It must begin with pastors and leaders, he added.    

WORSHIP Charles Billingsley, worship leader at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and Southern Baptist Convention music director during the 156th SBC Annual Meeting, leads messengers in worship during the evening session June 11 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Billingsley was a member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville in his high school years. BP Photo by Thomas Graham
“... Those saints who love contemporary music, do you really love them? Those saints who love traditional music, do you really love them? Those saints who love praise songs, do you really love them? Those saints who are Calvinist, do you really love them? Those saints who are not Calvinist, do you really love them? Those saints who love just a King James Version of the Bible ... do you love them? Those saints who love the Holman Christian Standard Bible, do you love them? Those saints whose churches ... have Baptist in their name, do you love them? Those churches that don’t have Baptist in their name, do you love them?

“The question of the hour my brothers and my sisters, [is] do we really love the saints of God,” Luter said. “Do you love the saints of God enough to work together to impact lostness in America? Jesus says we should love each other like He loved us, and He loved us so much that he died for us”

On Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon—before the meeting was gaveled to a close—Luter led messengers in saying, in unison multiple times, “Lord, send a revival, and let it begin with me.”

During his report, Page mentioned one barrier to unity—the debate over Calvinism—that led him to form a 19-member advisory committee. It issued its report in late May. 

“I am not naïve,” Page said of the differences over Calvinism. “I know there will continue to be problems and difficulties but I am convinced that if we will talk to each other together we will see a unity that will allow us to win more men, women, boys and girls to Christ than ever before.”

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