TUESDAY SBC BLOG

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jun 10, 2014 4:52 PM
BALTIMORE (BP) -- Baptist Press is live blogging the SBC annual meeting in Baltimore. Updates can be read here, at our Twitter account (Twitter.com/BaptistPress), or our Facebook account (Facebook.com/BaptistPress). Want more updates? Follow our SBC annual meeting feed at Twitter.com/SBCMeeting. A schedule of the Tuesday meeting can be found at http://www.sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc14/program/default.asp. Watch the SBC annual meeting live here.

All times Eastern.

Tuesday

3:49 p.m. -- A portion of the North American Mission Board presentation focused on church revitalization. Ezell highlighted a Baltimore church plant that merged with an established church which was in decline -- what NAMB calls a "legacy church plant."

The SBC loses 800 to 1,000 churches every year, "but they're recoverable" through legacy church planting, Ezell said, adding that lost churches represent millions of dollars in unused resources.

Ezell also highlighted a Montreal church plant that has grown to 700 attendees during its first year of existence -- despite the spiritual darkness in Montreal, where more than 99 percent of the population does not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. In Canada there is one church for every 117,000 people, Ezell said.

"We are absolutely committed to planting evangelistic churches all across America," Ezell said.

Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., presented an evangelistic conversation guide he uses with unchurched people in South Florida. The guide involves a drawing of three circles that illustrates the Gospel. Ezell urged pastors to teach their people to use the conversation guide and introduced a smart phone app that includes an interactive version of the diagram to use in evangelistic conversations.

"We have got to focus on sharing our faith," Ezell said.

3:02 p.m. -- In his report to the convention, North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell said NAMB is "laser focused on planting new evangelistic churches" -- 1,105 in 2013.

The health of church plants is a priority for NAMB, Ezell said. He noted that churches planted in 2010 have a 91 percent survival rate, have baptized 3,394 people and have given $2.9 million through CP.

Another component of NAMB's church planting strategy is starting congregations among ethnic groups, and church planting catalysts have been appointed for various ethnic and racial groups, Ezell said.

"Please join me in praying Luke 10:2, that God would send more workers into the harvest field," Ezell said.

Executive directors of Baptist state conventions in the South joined Ezell on the platform to show their support for transitioning NAMB funds to non-South regions. "Because of their leadership and sacrificial spirit ... we can plant new churches in underserved areas," Ezell said of the state executives, noting that an additional $8 million annually goes to non-South regions thanks to their sacrifice.

"Thank you, Southern Baptists, for all that you are doing to reach North America and the world for Christ," Ezell said.

2:50 p.m. -- Committee on Nominations report adopted with two corrections given by Chairman Jerry Johnson. Among the 70-member committee's standards for nominees: doctrinal fidelity, denominational loyalty, local church vitality, trustee continuity and demographic diversity.

2:26 p.m. -- In his report to the convention, Executive Committee President Frank S. Page discussed a strategy for world evangelism and discipleship called Great Commission Advance.

A key component of the strategy is the Cooperative Program, Page said. He reported that SBC entity heads are united in their support of CP as are state convention leaders. In fact, state conventions have cut their total number of employees from about 1,750 several years ago to about 1,350 today -- an indication that they are sacrificing to give more to national CP ministries. In a similar effort to send more money to CP ministries, the EC will recommend another decrease in its CP allocation percentage next year, Page said.

He highlighted several multiethnic ministry endeavors that demonstrate the EC's commitment to involve Southern Baptists of all races and ethnicities in convention life. Page announced the EC's hiring of Bobby Sena as a national Hispanic consultant.

Videos of diverse pastors voicing their support for CP underscored the SBC's unity in missions giving. Unprecedented unity and unprecedented effectiveness in evangelism are Page's goals for the convention, he said.

"We have a God who can make all this happen," Page said. "... I ask you to join me in begging God like never before." He called every Southern Baptist church to "lead the way and beg God for a Holy Ghost revival."

2:00 p.m. -- Hance Dilbeck, pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Okla., was elected second vice president. He was nominated by James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga. Merritt called Dilbeck a leader in church planting and Great Commission giving. There were no other nominees, so registration secretary Jim Wells cast the ballot of the convention.

1:55 p.m. -- In a theme interpretation Gary Frost, the North American Mission Board's vice president for the Midwest region, said 2 Chronicles 7:14 often is taken out of context. Christians must understand the verse's original meaning before they can apply it properly, he said, noting that it was a promise to God's people under the old covenant -- Israel.

Israel was to be a holy people reflecting the holy God, Frost said. Similarly under the new covenant, God's people must be holy in order to impact the lost world for Christ, he said. Like God's people had to return to their original purpose under the old covenant, Christians need to return to holy living under the new covenant.

"We thank God for the Conservative Resurgence," Frost said. "But I'm here to suggest not only do we need a reformation, we need a restoration" in which God's people are restored to a right relationship with Him.

Frost added, "If we're going to make a difference, our hearts have to be attuned to our holy God."

12:23 p.m. -- Registration is 5,129 as of 12:15 p.m. Tuesday.

12:17 p.m. -- Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., was elected first vice president. Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., nominated him. Pressley is "willing and qualified" to serve, having held several SBC leadership positions, Traylor said. There were no other nominations, so registration secretary Jim Wells cast the ballot of the convention for Pressley.

12:15 p.m. -- Ronnie Floyd was elected SBC president on the first ballot. The vote total was:

Ronnie Floyd: 1,834 (51.62%)

Dennis Manpoong Kim: 1,446 (40.70%)

Jared Moore: 210 (5.91%)

11:56 a.m. -- The International Mission Board presentation focused on God's work in Cuba. One Cuban pastor told Southern Baptists, "What we are able to see in Cuba is because you have been supporting us ... Please keep being strong." Church growth cannot be believers' first goal, the pastor said. "The goal is that the Lord would come in His Kingdom to our hearts," our families and our countries.

11:35 a.m. -- During the International Mission Board report, David Uth, chairman of the IMB presidential search team, said his committee is looking for another man like Tom Elliff with a passion for reaching the nations for Christ.

In his report to the convention, Elliff said that on average, each IMB missionary: helped lead 49 people to faith in Christ last year; led 24 new converts to be baptized; helped mentor at least five potential leaders and was involved in discipleship with 90 people.

More than 6,000 churches were planted overseas last year in partnership with national partners, Elliff said. Some 1,918 Southern Baptist churches have engaged unengaged, unreached people groups. In the last three years, 919 previously unengaged people groups have been engaged with the Gospel.

"There comes a time when leaders need to become cheerleaders," Elliff said of his retirement, citing the need for a new generation to shape Southern Baptist international missions.

One messenger asked whether the IMB would receive the funds if SBC seminaries chose to take a 1 percent reduction in their CP allocation and send the money to IMB. Elliff replied that the IMB and NAMB "respectfully declined" that approach to raising money "because we're a team." To fulfill the Great Commission, "it takes all of us," he said.

11:15 a.m. -- A messenger asked GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins why Southern Baptists don't qualify for group healthcare coverage. Hawkins replied that the law only allows group insurance when all members of a group receives their paycheck from a common employer. However, GuideStone has worked with associations to provide group coverage for ministers.

11:09 a.m. -- During his report to the convention, GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins said his entity is fighting to protect religious liberty against the Obama administration's abortion/contraceptive mandate. "We're in a battle on the healthcare front in America," Hawkins said, and GuideStone is fighting through litigation and legislation.

The Affordable Care Act involved a "closed process" from the beginning and forces Christians to choose between "long-held biblical convictions and health coverage," Hawkins said. GuideStone will not let "this administration or any" mandate that it has to provide coverage of abortion-causing medical technologies, he said.

10:54 a.m. -- 5,001 messengers were registered as of 10:45 a.m. today.

10:50 a.m. -- Three pastors were nominated for SBC president: Ronnie Floyd of Arkansas, Dennis Manpoong Kim of Maryland and Jared Moore of Kentucky. Messengers voted by ballot. Results will be announced later.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., nominated Floyd. "When Southern Baptists have needed Ronnie Floyd, he has always been there," Mohler said. He called Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, where Floyd is pastor, "evangelistic, faithful and innovative" and added that it is among the SBC's top contributors to the Cooperative Program. Floyd has served in numerous SBC leadership posts, including chairman of the Great Commission Task Force, Mohler said.

Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, nominated Kim. "Could it be that God has sovereignly brought Dr. Kim into the life and legacy of the Southern Baptist Convention ... for such a time as this?" McKissic said. He said Kim is a man of prayer who will help restore "a heart for prayer" in the convention, as well as a leader in cross-cultural evangelism and discipleship. Global Mission Church in Silver Spring, Md., where Kim is pastor, is thoroughly multicultural, McKissic said, adding that Kim would be the first SBC president not from the South. "The election of Dr. Kim will signal our future," McKissic said.

Bennie Smith, a deacon at New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, Ky., where Moore is pastor, nominated Moore. "We are a small Baptist church, but I'm trying to speak for smaller churches," Smith said. Moore "is an intelligent and loving person. He is dedicated to serving Jesus Christ, and he believes the Bible is the inerrant Word of God," Smith said. New Salem gives 16 percent of its undesignated receipts through CP, Smith said. "The voice of an average person in our SBC would be valuable," he said of Moore.

10:15 a.m. -- Messengers adopted EC recommendation six to amend Article III of the SBC Constitution.

EC chairman Ernest Easley said the recommendation "is small-church friendly" and includes a reference to CP in Article III for the first time.

9:40 a.m. -- The Executive Committee has reduced its Cooperative Program allocation percentage twice and will soon reduce it a third time, EC President and CEO Frank S. Page said during the EC report. "When we ask for more, it's not coming to us ... We want to do everything we can to reach the nations for Christ."

For the first time in two decades, the average CP gift from Southern Baptist churches increased, Page said, noting that the average gift is 5.5 percent.

Among the EC recommendations approved by messengers:

-- That the convention adopt the 2014-2015 CP allocation budget.

-- That the convention adopt the 2014-2015 SBC operating budget.

-- That the 2019 SBC annual meeting be held in Birmingham, Ala.

-- That the 2020 SBC annual meeting be held in Orlando, Fla.

-- That 2018-2019 SBC calendar of activities be established.

9:23 a.m. -- Eddie Bumpers, pastor of Crossway Baptist Church in Springfield Mo., said in a theme interpretation that prayer is vital if Southern Baptists are to experience revival. Preaching from 2 Chronicles 7:14, he emphasized two commands for believers:

-- Commit to the priority of prayer.

"When we pray, we're saying, 'God, I depend upon you,'" Bumpers said. "... Prayer is to your spiritual life what breathing is to your physical life."

-- Claim the promises of prayer.

"The link between our weakness and God's power is prayer," he said, adding that all great movements of God begin with prayer.

9:12 a.m. -- The schedule has been advanced by ten minutes.

8:58 a.m. -- Messengers made six motions moments ago. Among them:

-- That SBC seminaries be requested to survey the views of faculty and students on tithing and teach students to tithe.

-- That the new SBC officers lead the convention in joining a movement to impeach President Obama.

-- That the SBC authorize its president to form a task force to assess the convention's progress on racial reconciliation.

-- That LifeWay stop selling 2011 NIV and not use it in any published literature.

-- That the SBC ask its new officers to join a movement to convene on the Gettysburg battlefield celebrating racial reconciliation.

-- That the SBC ask its new officers to discipline the California church and pastor that endorsed and approved homosexual behavior.

8:40 a.m. -- Bill Sumners of Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives honored for 30 years of service.

8:35 a.m. -- 214 saved at Crossover. 32 local churches and 2,330 volunteers involved.

8:15 a.m. -- The presidential election will occur at 10:35 this morning, not Tuesday afternoon as in previous years. For information on the nominees and their churches, see http://www.bpnews.net/42696/cp-baptisms-for-sbc-nominees-churches.

8:10 a.m. -- Registration as of 8:05 a.m. Tuesday: 4,310.

8:00 a.m. -- The Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee will recommend nine resolutions to messengers this afternoon, including one on "transgender identity" affirming "God's good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one's self-perception." The resolution invites transgender persons "to trust in Christ and to experience renewal in the Gospel" and opposes all efforts to "validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy."

Messengers will also consider resolutions on church revitalization, the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, casinos and lotteries, and predatory payday lending.

Following is the full text of the resolutions to be recommended to the convention.

On Appreciation

WHEREAS, Messengers to the 157th session of the Southern Baptist Convention have enjoyed a time of worship, encouragement, and fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ; and

WHEREAS, We acknowledge God's providence in all these blessings; and

WHEREAS, We also acknowledge the kind hospitality of the people of Baltimore, Maryland; and

WHEREAS, We further acknowledge our local Southern Baptist churches, associations, state Baptist conventions, SBC committees, and volunteers of the Baltimore area who have worked so diligently to make our stay a pleasant one; and

WHEREAS, We especially acknowledge the Lord's grace in enabling our president, officers, various committees, musicians, and other platform personnel to conduct the affairs of this Convention with dignity and a Christ-like spirit; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, express our profound gratitude to the Lord and to all those He has used to bring about an annual meeting characterized by grace, evangelism, worship, encouragement, cooperation, and purpose.

On A Call for Church Revitalization

WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention has adopted a focus of planting churches to impact the darkness in our world (Matthew 5:16; 28:18–20); and

WHEREAS, The North American Mission Board has reported that 70 to 75 percent of cooperating churches in the SBC have plateaued or are in decline; and

WHEREAS, The Bible teaches in passages like Acts 14:21–23 that the Apostle Paul made returning to established churches a part of his cooperative mission work, so that he could strengthen disciples, encourage perseverance, and train leaders; and

WHEREAS, The Bible teaches in Hebrews 12:12–13 to "strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead"; and

WHEREAS, The Bible also records the words of Jesus in Revelation 2:1–7, which calls churches to an action plan for revitalization consisting of remembering Christ's commission, repenting from having left their first love, and returning to their first works; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, recognize and affirm the mission of the North American Mission Board and all of our other SBC entities, working in cooperation with state conventions and local associations, to assist cooperating churches in church planting and church revitalization; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the messengers affirm the calling of pastors who revitalize churches as needful as the calling of pastors to plant churches; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That the messengers to this meeting encourage churches experiencing cycles of health to pray for and partner with both established and newly planted churches that are struggling so that together, experiencing His strength through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10), we can more effectively reach our neighbors and our nation with the Gospel.

On the Importance of Christ-Centered Education

WHEREAS, Both the Old and New Testament affirm the duty of parents to educate their children in the knowledge of God (Deuteronomy 6:4–9; Proverbs 9:10; 22:6; Ephesians 6:1–4; 2 Timothy 3:15–17); and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists affirm the right of parents to educate their children in public schools, in Christian schools, or through homeschooling; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have a long-standing tradition of starting Christian K–12 schools through which many godly leaders have been trained and equipped; and

WHEREAS, An education centered around Christ, who alone is the "key of knowledge" (Luke 11:52), fosters recognition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture in all matters, including God's direct creation of all things, culminating in the creation of human beings in His own image as recorded in the book of Genesis; and

WHEREAS, Teachers, administrators, and staff in Christian schools are empowered to win students to salvation through evangelism, make disciples, and foster spiritual development; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, affirm Christ-centered education as a worthy pursuit to which churches and individuals dedicate themselves, often at great financial sacrifice, and encourage Southern Baptists to promote the establishment of additional Christ-centered K–12 schools and Christian homeschooling networks; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm teachers, administrators, parents, and students who choose to follow God's leadership in their lives by participating in public schools; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage lawmakers to enact policies and legislation that maximize parental choice and best serve the educational needs and desires of families; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we affirm and encourage support for all existing Christ-centered K–12 schools as they engage in Kingdom work.

On Global Hunger Relief

WHEREAS, Hunger ministries reflect the compassionate heart of Jesus, serving as an effective means to make Christ known to our neighbors and the nations (Matthew 4:23; 9:35–38; 14:14–21); and

WHEREAS, In Old and New Testament alike, the Lord anticipates that His genuine followers will feed the hungry and minister to people in need (Deuteronomy 15:11; Matthew 25:34–40; James 2:14–17); and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists care about the physical and spiritual needs of all persons, regardless of religious affiliation, economic status, or cultural identity; and

WHEREAS, Extreme hunger afflicts nearly one billion people across North America and around the world; and

WHEREAS, Cooperative Program support provided by Southern Baptist churches allows the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board, and their trusted partners to make efficient and effective use of hunger donations by eliminating the overhead costs often associated with other humanitarian and relief agencies; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptist hunger ministries are designed to include the proclamation of the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ alongside a demonstration of the Gospel through loving deeds, and are conducted in harmony with the historic biblical convictions of Southern Baptists; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have supported these missionally strategic hunger initiatives for more than three decades by providing financial contributions through the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund; and

WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund was rebranded as Global Hunger Relief by the SBC Executive Committee on February 18, 2014, in collaboration with SBC entities involved in promoting, receiving, and disbursing Global Hunger Relief contributions in order to encourage a new generation of believers to accept the challenge of addressing hunger needs; and

WHEREAS, The Executive Committee, the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, LifeWay Christian Resources, Woman's Missionary Union, and Baptist Global Response have affirmed the current Convention-adopted division of Global Hunger Relief funds to be used 80 percent for overseas hunger relief and 20 percent for domestic hunger relief; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, encourage Southern Baptists enthusiastically to embrace and support the new Global Hunger Relief initiative; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage the Southern Baptist Convention entities, Woman's Missionary Union, and other ministry partners involved in promoting, receiving, and disbursing Global Hunger Relief offerings to raise awareness of hunger needs continuously and aggressively, and to promote Global Hunger Relief as the Southern Baptist approach to funding hunger ministry; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we acknowledge the continuing value of local church support for the Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists, which allows all Global Hunger Relief contributions to be used to meet food and nutritional needs for hungry persons; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we encourage each Southern Baptist individual and congregation to promote Global Hunger Relief through systematic personal giving, annual observance of Southern Baptists' World Hunger Sunday, and innovative local church initiatives throughout the year.

On the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

WHEREAS, July 2, 2014, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act; and

WHEREAS, The Civil Rights Act spurred the United States forward in the dismantling of legal racial segregation; and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures consistently teach us that all persons are created in the image of God, descended from our common first parents (Genesis 2:27; Acts 17:26), and are thus worthy of equal respect and dignity; and

WHEREAS, These truths were a central and driving force in the civil rights movement; and

WHEREAS, Our government authorities have a God-entrusted duty to guard and defend the constitutional rights of all citizens (Romans 13:1–7); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, lament and repudiate this nation's long history of racial segregation as well as the complicity of Southern Baptists who resisted or opposed the dismantling of the evil of racial hierarchy in our churches or society; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we reaffirm the historic action in 1965 of the Southern Baptist Convention to call for "peaceful compliance with laws assuring equal rights for all," along with the courageous efforts of many known and unknown Baptist ministers and laypersons to advance the cause of racial justice in the face of opposition; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we thank God for the increased racial and ethnic diversity within Southern Baptist life over this past half century; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on all Gospel-affirming people to strive for a faithful witness to the watching world that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither slave nor free" (Galatians 3:28); and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we continue to call on all Christian men and women to pray and labor for the day when our Lord will set all things right and racial prejudice and injustice will be no more.

On the Sufficiency of Scripture Regarding the Afterlife

WHEREAS, There have been numerous books and movies purporting to explain or describe the afterlife experience; and

WHEREAS, These books and movies have had a considerable impact as seen in the best seller lists and high box office receipts; and

WHEREAS, Many of these books and movies have sought to describe heaven from a subjective, experiential source, mainly via personal testimonies that cannot be corroborated; and

WHEREAS, Many of these are not unified and contain details that are antithetical to Scripture; and

WHEREAS, Many devout and well-meaning people allow these to become their source and basis for an understanding of the afterlife rather than scriptural truth; and

WHEREAS, Though the Scriptures include explicit accounts of persons raised from the dead, such as Jairus' daughter, the widow of Nain's son, and Lazarus, in God's perfect revelatory wisdom, He has not given us any report of their individual experience in the afterlife (Deuteronomy 29:29; Mark 5:21–43; Luke 7:11–17; John

11:35–44); and

WHEREAS, The Apostle Paul wrote about "a man in Christ" who was caught up "into the third heaven" who "heard inexpressible words" that "a man is not allowed to speak" (2 Corinthians 12:1–4); and

WHEREAS, The doctrines of the afterlife are critical to a full understanding of salvation and repentance (Luke 16:29–31; John 3:16–18); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, reaffirm the sufficiency of biblical revelation over subjective experiential explanations to guide one's understanding of the truth about heaven and hell.

On Ending Government Sponsorship of Casinos and Lotteries

WHEREAS, A growing body of independent evidence from the health and social sciences shows government sponsorship of casinos and state lotteries perpetuates a system of exploitation; and

WHEREAS, Casinos and lotteries are permitted by government and its policies and are instituted to provide a separate revenue source distinct from direct taxation; and

WHEREAS, Casinos and lotteries enjoy governmentally established privileges without which they would not be spreading into mainstream American life as they are today; and

WHEREAS, Government has become an advocate for the transformation of gambling from a private and local activity into a revenue source as significant and accepted as taxation; and

WHEREAS, Government sponsorship of casinos and lotteries is predatory in that it exploits primarily poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged citizens by promoting participation in highly addictive behaviors which often result in financial disadvantage or ruin; and

WHEREAS, Government, by sponsoring and promoting gambling, is actively encouraging and profiting from the statistical certainty of citizens losing their money over time; and permitting such a process to occur under the full protection of the law conflicts with the public interest and historically has been viewed as dishonest; and

WHEREAS, Government-sponsored casinos and lotteries promote and perpetuate the mentality of getting something for nothing, which is contrary to Scripture and replaces biblical teachings of working for a living (Proverbs 13:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 6:9–10); and

WHEREAS, Both federal and state governments are now considering authorizing, regulating, or sponsoring internet gambling, which would open a casino or a lottery outlet virtually everywhere in America; and

WHEREAS, Government sponsorship of casinos and lotteries is inconsistent with its role to protect the people (Romans 13:1–7; 1 Peter 2:13–17); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, reaffirm our long-standing opposition to government sponsorship of gambling; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we believe no taxpayer dollars should be used by government to lure citizens into gambling, no government should depend on gambling to fund its activities, and no state legislature or Congress should pass laws to promote or sponsor gambling; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we believe that after four decades of unfulfilled promises, corrupt deals, and broken dreams, government partnership with organized gambling interests has failed, and it is time for government to end these partnerships and embrace a fundamentally different and higher vision of the path to American prosperity; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and all Southern Baptists to continue working to end government sponsorship of casinos and lotteries; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we urge American citizens from all backgrounds, religious faiths, political convictions, and life circumstances, to join with us to make the United States free and independent of government-sponsored gambling, and once again able to resume its place as protector of our security, a leader in building a shared prosperity, and an example to the world.

On Predatory Payday Lending

WHEREAS, Scripture teaches that all persons are of inestimable worth regardless of their social, economic, or physical condition (Genesis 1:26); and

WHEREAS, God commanded humanity to be fruitful and multiply, taking just dominion of the earth in partnership with God (Genesis 1:26–31; 2:15); and

WHEREAS, The Fall has produced in human beings a selfishness that causes them to view others as objects to be exploited for personal gain rather than as individuals with whom to enjoy rich, mutually beneficial relationships (Genesis 3:7–19); and

WHEREAS, God is not opposed to profit (Matthew 25:14–30) but is opposed to those who take advantage of the weak, the poor, and the vulnerable (Exodus 22:21–24; Deuteronomy 24:10–22; Zechariah 7:8–14); and

WHEREAS, Payday lending is defined as the practice of lending small amounts of money, usually $350 or less, to individuals for two-week periods (i.e. until the next payday) potentially trapping borrowers in an endless cycle of two-week loans, often at an annual interest rate up to or exceeding 360 percent; and

WHEREAS, All such predatory behavior conflicts with God's plan for human relationships (Exodus 22:25–27; Leviticus 19:35–36; 25:35–37; Nehemiah 5:1–13; Proverbs 11:1); and

WHEREAS, Predatory payday lending is a direct violation of the Love Commandment (Mark 12:20–31; Luke 10:25–37); and

WHEREAS, Predatory lending fails to respect the dignity of the person created in the image of God and interferes with human flourishing; and

WHEREAS, Individuals and businesses must be just in their dealings, operating with wisdom and care, if they are to be respected as valued contributors to society (Genesis 4:9; Amos 4–6; Colossians 3:23–24); and

WHEREAS, The Apostle Paul states that government's task is to reward good and punish evil (Romans 13:1–7); and

WHEREAS, People may occasionally need emergency financial assistance; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, denounce the practice of predatory payday lending as contrary to God's design for human relationships; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge churches, employers, and other concerned individuals to provide viable solutions for meeting short-term financial needs within their local communities; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage churches to provide financial stewardship classes and/or skills training for church members and members of the wider community; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on governing officials to investigate current payday lending abuses in their communities and institute just regulations and policies that terminate the practice of predatory payday lending; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we strongly admonish those who are engaged in the practice of predatory payday lending to consider the great damage they are causing in the lives of vulnerable people and to adopt a just lending model.

On Transgender Identity

WHEREAS, All persons are created in God's image and are made to glorify Him (Genesis 1:27; Isaiah 43:7); and

WHEREAS, God's design was the creation of two distinct and complementary sexes, male and female (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6) which designate the fundamental distinction that God has embedded in the very biology of the human race; and

WHEREAS, Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles as ordained by God are part of the created order and should find expression in every human heart (Genesis 2:18, 21–24; 1 Corinthians 11:7–9; Ephesians 5:22–33; 1 Timothy 2:12–14); and

WHEREAS, The Fall of man into sin and God's subsequent curse have introduced brokenness and futility into God's good creation (Genesis 3:1–24; Romans 8:20); and

WHEREAS, According to a 2011 survey, about 700,000 Americans perceive their gender identity to be at variance with the physical reality of their biological birth sex; and

WHEREAS, Transgenderism differs from hermaphroditism or intersexualism in that the sex of the individual is not biologically ambiguous but psychologically ambiguous; and

WHEREAS, The American Psychiatric Association removed this condition (aka, "gender identity disorder") from its list of disorders in 2013, substituting "gender identity disorder" with "gender dysphoria"; and

WHEREAS, The American Psychiatric Association includes among its treatment options for gender dysphoria cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery, and social and legal transition to the desired gender; and

WHEREAS, News reports indicate that parents are allowing their children to undergo these therapies; and

WHEREAS, Many LGBT activists have sought to normalize the transgender experience and to define gender according to one's self-perception apart from biological anatomy; and

WHEREAS, The separation of one's gender identity from the physical reality of biological birth sex poses the harmful effect of engendering an understanding of sexuality and personhood that is fluid; and

WHEREAS, Some public schools are encouraging parents and teachers to affirm the feelings of children whose self-perception of their own gender is at variance with their biological sex; and

WHEREAS, Some public schools are allowing access to restrooms and locker rooms according to children's self-perception of gender and not according to their biological sex; and

WHEREAS, The state of New Jersey prohibits licensed counselors from any attempt to change a child's "gender expression"; and

WHEREAS, These cultural currents run counter to the biblical teaching as summarized in The Baptist Faith and Message, Article III, that "Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation"; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, affirm God's good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one's self-perception—a perception which is often influenced by fallen human nature in ways contrary to God's design (Ephesians 4:17–18); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we grieve the reality of human fallenness which can result in such biological manifestations as intersexuality or psychological manifestations as gender identity confusion and point all to the hope of the redemption of our bodies in Christ (Romans 8:23); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we extend love and compassion to those whose sexual self-understanding is shaped by a distressing conflict between their biological sex and their gender identity; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we invite all transgender persons to trust in Christ and to experience renewal in the Gospel (1 Timothy 1:15–16); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we love our transgender neighbors, seek their good always, welcome them to our churches and, as they repent and believe in Christ, receive them into church membership (2 Corinthians 5:18–20; Galatians 5:14); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we regard our transgender neighbors as image-bearers of Almighty God and therefore condemn acts of abuse or bullying committed against them; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we oppose efforts to alter one's bodily identity (e.g., cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery) to refashion it to conform with one's perceived gender identity; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we continue to oppose steadfastly all efforts by any governing official or body to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy (Isaiah 5:20); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we oppose all cultural efforts to validate claims to transgender identity; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That our love for the Gospel and urgency for the Great Commission must include declaring the whole counsel of God, proclaiming what Scripture teaches about God's design for us as male and female persons created in His image and for His glory (Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 20:27; Romans 11:36).

Blogging by David Roach, chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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