SBC messengers affirm motion for soul-winning task force

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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 voted affirmatively on one of the motions, 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."

Ezell, acting on behalf of SBC President Steve Gaines, commented to Gaines in making the motion, "We must be about sharing our faith." Ezell added, "You do that. I'm grateful for your heart and I join you in wanting to mobilize pastors to lead their people to have Gospel conversations."

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 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 James Forbis of First Baptist Church in Willow Springs, Mo., asking messengers to adopt a special emphasis day called "Orphan and Widow Care Sunday" in the 2018 SBC calendar.

-- 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.

The following two motions were ruled not in order:

-- A motion by Wiley Drake of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., asking messengers to "spiritually support" the Family Research Council's prayer emphasis event on July 2 called "Call to Fall." Gaines, the meeting's chairperson, ruled the motion not in order because it was in the form of a resolution.

-- A motion by Mark Collins of First Baptist Church in Yorktown, Texas, requesting messengers to defund the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The chairman of the Committee on Order of Business, Rod Martin, recommended the motion be ruled not in order because the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget had already been approved by a majority of messengers in previous business.

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