SBC President Proposes Name Change for the SBC
Dr. Bryant Wright, President of the SBC and Pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia, proposed that the SBC consider a name change tonight at the SBC Executive Committee meeting in Nashville. Wright suggested two reasons for the possible name change: overcoming an inaccurate regional identity, and overcoming barriers the name causes outside the South. However, Wright acknowledged that “only God knows whether such a proposal would pass (in the convention).”
Wright had already appointed a task force to look into the name change possibility. Since the task force was not authorized by the SBC or the Executive Committee, it is unofficial and reports directly to the President. The task force members are volunteers and will provide for their own expenses. Dr. Wright hopes the task force will have a recommendation ready in time for the February 2012 meeting of the Executive Committee, and that they will recommend it to the SBC Convention meeting in New Orleans in June 2012.
The committee appointed by Dr. Wright is to be chaired by Jimmy Draper, former President of LifeWay Christian Resources, and includes the following members:
The announcement did not evoke a warm response from the SBC Executive Committee initially. Objections to the proposed name change included concerns about losing legal and financial advantages from the 1845 SBC charter, concern about forming such a significant committee without convention authorization, concern about the timing of raising this possibly controversial issue on the heels of the sometimes divisive GCR process, and concern that opening a website soliciting possible name suggestions from Baptists is premature before a thorough study of the legal and financial ramifications of such a name change. Two motions were made by EC members – one to ask for a yearlong study of the financial implications of such a change before the EC acted on any recommendation, and another to ask Wright to delay his announcement and seek the approval of the Convention in June 2012 rather than forming an unauthorized committee. However, EC members voted down both of these motions.
Considering a name change for the SBC is not a new notion, nor is it the first time an SBC President has proposed such a study. Motions were made from the floor of the SBC to consider a name change in 1965, 1974, 1983, 1989, 1990, and 1998, and the motion to conduct a “straw poll” about a possible name change was defeated in 1999. W. A. Criswell proposed the study of a name change in 1974-1975, which led to the appointment of a “Committee of Seven” to conduct the study, and Jack Graham proposed studying a possible name change in 2004, but it was defeated in 2005. The Executive Committee has initiated such studies in 1961, 1965-1967, and 1997-1998. In all these instances, the name change proposals have been defeated by the SBC.
What do you think about the possible name change? Do you have a name suggestion to recommend?