2013 SBC ANNUAL MEETING
HOUSTON (BP)—Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention dealt, as expected, with the hot-button issue of the Boy Scouts’ new membership policy, but also passed a series of resolutions expressing compassion for the victimized and vulnerable.
In two sessions June 12 at the annual meeting in Houston, messengers passed 12 resolutions in either unanimous or overwhelming votes, including one voicing disappointment in the May decision by the Boy Scouts of America to open their membership to openly homosexual youth. Messengers declined to call for churches to boycott BSA.
The resolution expressed Southern Baptists’ “continued opposition” to the new membership policy and urged removal of the executive and board leaders who also tried without succeeding to liberalize the BSA’s leadership guidelines. However, the statement also supported families and churches in determining what their relationship to the Boy Scouts should be and urged those who remain in the BSA to share the Gospel of Jesus with boys and seek the revocation of the new membership rule.
Resolutions Committee Chairman Steve Lemke, provost and ethics professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said in a news conference that the BSA resolution “is not against any boys.”
“We want to minister to the boys,” Lemke said, describing the resolution as “a balanced, middle way that tries to state what most Baptists would believe and respect the congregational autonomy that we believe.”
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told reporters at the news conference, “I think many in our culture were expecting a caustic response to the Boy Scouts of America decision.”
Instead, Moore said, the statement “is a careful, Gospel-focused, balanced resolution that expresses our convictions as Baptists about human sexuality, human flourishing and also speaks to the larger question of our mission as churches.”
Lemke acknowledged the statement on the Boy Scouts was the big news, but he said the Resolution Committee members “were really excited about the resolutions related to compassion ministries.” These resolutions:
►Call on churches to protect children from sexual abuse and to pray for abuse victims;
►Urge Southern Baptists to become informed about human trafficking, how to combat it and how to provide Christian ministry to its victims;
►Affirm the “immeasurable value to God” of people with “mental health concerns” and oppose “all stigmatization and prejudice” toward those with such problems;
►Express opposition to laws that may result in health-care rationing for senior adults and encouraged ministry to the elderly, and
►Endorse possible probation and parole for some nonviolent offenders and called for churches to seek the “moral and spiritual transformation” of prisoners.
Messengers also approved resolutions:
►Calling for religious liberty for college students, military chaplains and service members, and religious liberty for employers regarding the health care they provide their employees;
►Encouraging churches to pray “confidently, regularly, and fervently” for the president of the United States and other governmental leaders;
►Urging all Southern Baptists “to tithe cheerfully to their local churches;”
►Celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Woman’s Missionary Union and commending the organization for its faithful support of and involvement in missions.
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