If the Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings were college or NBA basketball games Barry McCarty would be the leader in minutes played. For nearly three decades no one has accumulated more platform time in the SBC annual meetings than Southern Baptists’ well-known chief parliamentarian.
In the course of 29 annual convention meetings McCarty, a native of Atlanta, has probably logged 540 hours on the platform. However, that is only a small part of what the convention parliamentarian actually does. McCarty customarily spends a significant amount of time with the SBC presidents in preparation for the Convention business sessions.
McCarty has now served under 16 different SBC presidents, beginning in 1986 with Atlanta First Baptist Pastor Charles Stanley. His prowess as a parliamentarian has been invaluable in helping Convention leaders navigate through some rather stormy business sessions, particularly during the Conservative Resurgence.
While McCarty is known as Southern Baptists’ chief parliamentarian, he is also a preacher, teacher, pastor, and educator. He has a Ph.D. in rhetoric and argumentation from the University of Pittsburgh, has served as president of Cincinnati Christian University, and until recently senior pastor of Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta.
Throughout his ministry McCarty has served the Lord in the Stone-Campbell tradition, which sought to restore Christian unity through abolishing creeds and returning to the principles of the early churches described in the New Testament.
McCarty explained, “In reading Baptist history, I discovered that the desire to recover New Testament Christianity was also what the Anabaptists were striving to do during the Protestant Reformation.”
At the SBC annual meeting in Columbus, OH, McCarty was asked, “Barry, when are you going to become a Southern Baptist?”
McCarty responded, “Well, it may be sooner than you think.”
Began with 2000 BF&M
Through the years the affable parliamentarian developed a deep love for Southern Baptists and a growing appreciation for the Baptist Faith and Message as a confession of sound biblical doctrine. He is a man of deep convictions, great faith, and holds tenaciously to the infallibility of God’s Word.
McCarty explained, “My confidence in the BF&M 2000 began 15 years ago when I assisted the SBC in its adoption. Paige [Patterson], who was the Convention president in 2000, and I had numerous conversations about that confessional document and how it would be presented to the messengers at the Orlando Convention.
“I immersed myself in the content of the Baptist Faith and Message and grew to love the way it summarized the Christian faith. I especially appreciated its clear statement on salvation by grace through faith, while also affirming believer’s baptism as the biblical testimony of a saving faith in the work of Christ.”
McCarty cited three primary reasons for his decision to become a Southern Baptist. “First,” he exclaimed, “While Southern Baptists are not a creedal people, they are a confessional people; and at this point in history the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is the best statement of faith I know of.
“Second, right now no one is speaking to our culture on the great moral issues with as much clarity or biblical integrity as Southern Baptists.
“Third, at this point in history no one is doing more to penetrate lostness around the world than Southern Baptists.”
Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson commented, “Dr. Barry McCarty has been a like-minded believer for 15 years. One of my greatest joys is to welcome him to Southern Baptist life in a new way. He has helped us pull our bacon out of the fire so often, and now he becomes one of us. This is the beginning of a great new chapter in the lives of Barry and Pat McCarty.”
McCarty said that his journey to becoming a Southern Baptist reminded him of the sojourners who are adopted by the tribes of Israel in Ezekiel 47:23, which says, “And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God.”
McCarty reasoned, “I am a long-time sojourner who wants to claim my inheritance in this tribe, among the people known as Southern Baptists.”
‘We want in’
So, this weekend Barry and his wife, Pat, will be baptized and welcomed into the membership of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany. The McCartys selected Sherwood because of their deep relationship with Pastor Michael Catt, the influence of the Refresh Conferences provided by the church, and the prayers the church has offered to God on their behalf.
McCarty said, “On Sunday we are going to give four offerings to Sherwood Baptist Church. We are going to give our tithe, which will go to the local church, to the Georgia Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention through the Cooperative Program. We will give three gifts over and above our tithe: one to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, another gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, and a gift to Mission Georgia.
“We get it. We understand how our Convention works and we want in on all of it.”
Pat McCarty is also extremely familiar with Southern Baptist life. When Barry served as a pastor in Dallas, she was employed by GuideStone Financial Resources. During Barry’s pastorate in Atlanta Pat served Southern Baptists as an employee of the North American Mission Board.
Interestingly, by month’s end Barry McCarty will have his opportunity to serve Southern Baptists in a new way – as a professor of preaching and rhetoric at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth. He turned down other ministry opportunities to accept the position at Southwestern; and the most casual observer could easily detect that his emotions are surcharged with delirious delight at the new season of ministry the Lord has provided.
Seminary President Patterson remarked, “Everyone knows the prowess of Barry McCarty as a parliamentarian. But his greatness as a preacher and a rhetorician has been unknown to most Southern Baptists. He is a gracious pastor, a powerful preacher, and a consistent witness for Christ. As professor of preaching and rhetoric at Southwestern he makes our teaching of preaching the finest we could ever have imagined. This day, I am grateful to God that he has accepted this role.”
Becoming a part of the Southern Baptist voice
McCarty testified, “I would like for evangelicals across the nation to know my reasoning for becoming a Southern Baptist; and I would say to them, ‘If your church is having a love affair with the culture rather than lovingly speaking truth to the culture you may need to become a Southern Baptist.
“Southern Baptists are the strongest voice for New Testament Christianity in our generation. I want to be part of that voice.”
“When the seminary presidents gave their report at this year’s convention in Columbus, Southern Seminary President Al Mohler said, ‘Ground zero for where we will be standing in 30 years is the seminary campuses right now.’ That is why I want to pour myself into the next generation of pastors and missionaries as a professor at SWBTS.”
Many people, who have been Southern Baptists for many years get weary, jaded, and take for granted what they have as believers and Baptists. Those who fit into that category need to get to know McCarty. As a new Southern Baptist he is like a kid in a candy shop. He is perhaps the most positive Baptist among us. He glows with the light of Christ and is poised to make a significant impact on Southwestern Seminary and Southern Baptists – as an insider.
On August 26, 2010 The Christian Index published an article on Barry McCarty with the title: “The stranger among us is a wonderful friend of Southern Baptist.” Although he has been a devoted Christian for years, we can all thank God for the “conversion” of Barry McCarty. He is now one of us and one of our greatest assets.