June 23, 1999

Messengers cut off talk of name change
___By Bill Webb
___Missouri Word & Way
___ATLANTA--Southern Baptist Convention messengers declined June 15 to take a straw poll on whether they favor a name change for the SBC.
___Blaine Barber, a messenger from Agape Baptist Church in Petoskey, Mich., asked messengers "to consider changing the name of the SBC to the International Baptist Convention" and to vote on it by ballot for the purpose of a non-binding straw poll, with the results to inform further study.
___After a show of uplifted ballots, SBC President Paige Patterson declared the motion had been overwhelmingly defeated.
___"The goal of many of us who serve in the North and other areas outside the Bible Belt is to build an even greater denomination," Barber said. "A name change will open doors to church planting and building healthy churches
___"The (SBC) Executive Committee said there was no compelling reason for a change," he said, referring to a recent decision by that body--of which he is a member--to decide against acting on two name-change motions referred to it at last year's convention.
___However, Barber said he sees two compelling reasons for a name change.
___The first reason is a biblical principle, Barber said. He cited Paul's example to "become all things to all men." He referenced Acts 16:1-3, where Paul had Timothy circumcised to avoid offending the Jews to whom they would minister.
___"Now Paul did whatever was needed to overcome or break down any barriers to the witness of Christ. It would be painful for many of you to change the name of the SBC, but I can assure you it wouldn't be as painful as it was for Timothy," Barber said to laughter and applause.
___"Reason No. 2 is racial reconciliation," he said. Noting one Southern state did not ratify the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning slavery until 1995, Barber said: "We have the opportunity to do in Atlanta more than just make a resolution for racial reconciliation. We must take a giant leap into the next millennium that would break down the walls of racism. If we're going to reach the black communities of North America, we should not be that slow in bringing about change."
___Only one messenger spoke against Barber's motion before time for floor debate expired.
___"Southern Baptist is a term for a theology, not a term for a location," said Jeff Johnson of Central Baptist Church in Grants, N.M. "It is a term we've come to respect."
___Another messenger, James McCullen of First Baptist Church in Mountain View, Mo., proposed an amendment to change the name in Barber's motion to "Scriptural Baptist Convention."
___This would allow churches to use the same "SBC" initials on signs and letterhead, he said.
___His amendment was defeated on a show-of-hands vote.

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