PHOENIX (BP) – Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention proposed 11 motions during two 15-minute scheduled segments of the 2017 annual meeting in Phoenix.
Messengers approved one motion, presented by James Forbis of First Baptist Church in Willow Springs, Mo., for referral to the SBC’s Executive Committee. Forbis, an associate pastor at FBC Willow Springs, moved that the SBC adopt a special emphasis day called “Orphan and Widow Care Sunday” in the 2018 SBC calendar.
“I’ve always had a heart for orphans, adopting, foster care—that type of thing. I fully plan on adopting later in life,” Forbis told The Pathway. His passion for orphan care and adoption, he added, is based on the biblical emphasis upon adoption. “God adopted us through Christ,” Forbis said, and the Bible calls Christians to care for orphans.
Scripture, in fact, calls Christians to care for both orphans and widows: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).
Widows are some “of our biggest and strongest prayer warriors in the body of Christ,” Forbis said, “and we need to do something to better call attention to their needs and to encourage them.”
Messengers also voted affirmatively on a motion, submitted by Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board and member of First Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga., to authorize the convention’s president to appoint a task force to study how Southern Baptists “could be more effective in personal soul-winning and evangelistic preaching.”
Two motions were approved by messengers for referral to multiple entities:
- A motion by David Bernstein of Desert Ridge Baptist Church in St. George, Utah, requesting NAMB, the International Mission Board (IMB) and LifeWay Christian Resources to voluntarily amend their governing documents to ensure their boards of trustees include members from each state convention. The motion was referred to each respective entity.
- A motion by Luke Holmes of First Baptist Church in Tishomingo, Okla., requesting all SBC entities to consider publishing online the contact information of each of their trustees. Holmes further moved that each entity consider providing an online tool to help churches contact trustees who represent them. The motion was referred to the Executive Committee (EC) and all SBC entities.
Five motions, including the one presented by Forbis, were approved for referral to the EC:
- A motion by Brent Lay of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., requesting the EC to consider encouraging churches through promotional strategies to “rescue and possibly adopt” declining churches.
- A motion by Steven Bailey of Calvary Baptist Church in Osceola, Ark., requesting an SBC bylaw amendment to require nomination speeches for officers of the convention to include Cooperative Program giving percentages of the church holding the nominee’s membership.
- A motion by Harvey Brown of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., requesting the president appoint a study committee to consider the feasibility of merging IMB and NAMB.
- A motion by Brent Epling of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., asking messengers to adopt an annual special emphasis day on the last Sunday in October to honor “our brothers and sisters in Christ suffering persecution throughout the nations.”
One motion was approved for referral to NAMB by Benjamin Wright of Cedar Pointe Baptist Church in Cedar Park, Texas, asking NAMB to adopt a policy that prohibits forming cooperative agreements with “state conventions that maintain affiliations” with churches whose belief and practice do not align with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.