SBC New Orleans

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

Jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, shrimp po-boys and beignets! Great time in New Orleans at the Southern Baptist Convention. Oh yeah, there was a lot of preaching and politicking, too, but the eating and fellowship was what it was all about. It was nice to get there with a leisurely 3-hour drive down I-55 instead of being subjected to the hassle of flying to a far-away site.

The annual gathering of Southern Baptists is actually an enjoyable experience without the numerous speaking engagements and obligatory appearances and endless peripheral meetings that characterized the convention all those years of my tenure as IMB president. I met Tom Elliff, my successor rushing from the platform to a luncheon meeting prior to having to make the IMB report in the afternoon and reminded him what a wonderful time I was having, free of such a stressful schedule.

Hanging out in the exhibit area provided an opportunity to make contact and fellowship with a multitude of friends and colleagues accumulated over the years. Seeing staff of denominational entities, college and seminary classmates, former missionaries and pastors from around the country is the highlight of the convention. The IMB booth featured an impressive interactive prayer experience confronting messengers with the unreached people groups of the world and the call to personal sacrifice and commitment.

I did get enticed to spend some time signing books at the LifeWay Bookstore exhibit, though the featured promotion didn’t result in many sales, but it did attract acquaintances to stop by and visit. Bobbye expecially enjoyed the Ministers’ Wives luncheon featuring Mary Kassian and hearing Jeannie Elliff and Pam Tebow share at a special program.

Meanwhile, significant things were going on inside the convention center. Being in the heart of the Bible Belt the attendance of less than 8,000 registered messengers fell short of expectations but did not diminish the enthusiasm for debating motions and resolutions. Of special significance was the election of Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, as the new SBC president. He is the first African-American to be selected for this leadership role and will obviously cast a healthy new perspective in representing the SBC among outsiders and the media. His election also signals a refreshing growth in the ethnic diversity of Southern Baptists.

There was interesting debate on the recommendation to approve a new “descriptor” as an option for churches choosing not to be identified as “Southern Baptist”–that of “Great Commission” Baptists. But what is wrong with this picture: As soon as it was approved and the business session was over, the assembly hall virtually emptied as the agenda moved to the report of the International Mission Board. There is obviously a big gap between our rhetoric and self-image as a missions people and actually giving priority to fulfilling the Great Commission!

We concluded our convention foray with a drive out to Gentilly Boulevard to join the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in a picnic and annual meeting of alumni and friends. Although not an alumni of NOBTS, many of our Mississippi friends are, and being in our own backyard, we are grateful for the leadership of Dr. Chuck Kelley and missions vision of the seminary.

3 Comments on “SBC New Orleans”

  1. Brent Hobbs

    I couldn’t make the trip this year, but I’m with you—why would people make a trip across the country to the annual meeting and skip the IMB report? Was very glad for the vast majority of news that came out of the convention this year. Especially Fred Luter’s election. And glad to hear you enjoyed your relaxed schedule.

  2. Monica

    My husband stopped by the Lifeway booth last year for your book signing…I wanted a book signed by you! He failed to mention to you my name however and you addressed it to him! I asked him if he was going to get me my own copy this year, unfortunately, he did not. Ha! I have respected and prayed for you and Bobbye for years…I watched the IMB report online, so challenging. How sad it makes me to hear so few take the time to hear how God is at work around the world.

  3. Jerry Rankin

    Monica, go to “contact me” and send me your mailing address and the autographed book is yours!

Leave a Reply

More News