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Still Baptist . . . After All These Years

By Gary Ledbetter, Director of Communications of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and Editor of the Southern Baptist Texan

The first report of the committee appointed by SBC President Bryant Wright to consider a new name for the SBC indicates that they know their job is a hot potato. Chairman Jimmy Draper assured us that they are approaching the task prayerfully and deliberately. He also made clear that the committee does not favor changing the word “Baptist” in our convention’s name. As expected, “Southern,” seen as some to be an inappropriately regional identification, and “Convention,” with its institutional flavor, are up for grabs.

I’m not surprised by anything Dr. Draper has said up to this point and it is good that he has nailed down that we will continue to be called something Baptist for the foreseeable future. But with that communication from the ad hoc committee, I’m comfortable to sit back and wait for their final report.

I can’t help but wonder if those most dissatisfied with the convention’s current name will be eased by any response that retains the word “Baptist,” though. Some have actually found the term “Baptist” problematic for their ministries. Maybe it’s for embarrassments like Westboro Baptist “Church” (not Southern Baptist but many don’t know) or things we have done like the Disney boycott. Some churches may find a broader base of attenders by not leading with “Baptist.”

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