As most folks expected, the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report passed by a large vote, but not without two hours of debate, lots of confusion, and passing an amendment that strengthened the wording about the Cooperative Program. The SBC parliamentarians, Barry McCarty and John Sullivan, certainly earned their pay on Tuesday as various alternative motions and points of order were raised by numerous messengers. So now the GCRTF's report is history. It has been adopted by the messengers to the convention. The recommendations now go to the Boards of Trustees of the various SBC entities (Executive Committee, North American Mission Board, and International Mission Board) for their consideration. My guess is that we have not yet begun to squabble.
The important thing to take away from all this, in my humble opinion, is that change is coming to the SBC. Change can be scary. There are lots of unknowns. But like it or not, the big ship is on a course correction, that will either lead to "Greater Things" (as the theme of the Pastor's Conference suggested) or to the gradual disassembly of the machinery that has grown to be the largest protestant denomination in the world. Obviously, the 11,020 messengers at the Convention yesterday were clearly in the mood for change. Even though I was not one of those who was satissfied with every recommendation of the GCRTF, I do believe that some changes are necessary. I'm just not sure the GCRTF's recommendations regarding the North American Mission Board are what we need.
Time will tell.
Yesterday more than 30 motions were brought from the floor of the convention. Convention rules allow for any elected messenger to submit motions from the floor. Standard procedure is that each motion is received, and referred to the Order of Business Committee, which in turn make disposition of the motion. Some are referred to the various entities of the Convention for their consideration, with request to report their decisions at the next Convention. Some motions, which deal with changes to the SBC Constitution are referred to the Executive Committee for their study and recommendations, to be reported back to the next Convention. Some motions are ruled out of order for various parliamentary reasons. Some motions are scheduled by the committee to come to the floor for consideration.
In all of yesterday's motions, only one was scheduled for Convention consideration. That motion was offered by my son, Jay Adkins who is Pastor of First Baptist Church of Westwego in the New Orleans area. Jay's motion was in regard to the Great Commission Task Force's Chairman's decision to place approximately 135 audio tapes of the Task Force's deliberations in the SBC Archives, and seal them for 15 years. Baptist Press reported on this decision in an article on June 8, 2010. You can read that article here http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=33096
The Adkins motion has been scheduled for consideration at the 8:40 AM Business Session Wednesday morning.
The question is, why would the leadership of the Task Force want the record of their discussions sealed for 15 years. This formation of this Task Force was approved by a huge majority vote in our 2009 Convention in Louisville. SBC President, Johnny Hunt, promised openness and transparency. Now, after what may be one of the most important votes in Convention history yesterday, the Task Force does not want us to know for 15 years, how they came to these recommendations. That just doesn't pass the smell test.
One prominent SBC blogger wrote yesterday "One brave messenger moved that "the minutes and audio of the GCR Committee be open for review for all Southern Baptists" and not sealed for fifteen years as was previously stated.(Opinion: This, in my opinion, is one of the most important motions made at the SBC. If it fails, it will say a great deal to me about where we are as a people). "
I certainly agree with that. In the spirit of fairness and the best Baptist tradition of openness and transparency, make the records available.
The SBC is celebrating the passing of the GCTF report. Why not let us see how they came to these conclusions?