Resolutions on illegal immigration, pastoral response to culture, and appreciation approved by messengers at annual meeting
SAVANNAH — Georgia Baptist messengers approved two resolutions on illegal immigration and a Christian response to culture and one expressing gratitude to the host church and Association as they wound down their two-day annual meeting at Calvary Baptist Temple. The resolutions were approved on Nov. 15.
The Resolution on a Christian Response to Illegal Immigration was submitted by Brad Whitt, messenger from Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez.
The document walked the fine line between acknowledging “the federal government’s failure to fulfill its responsibility in the area of illegal immigration during both the Democratic and Republican administrations” and the biblical mandates to “not mistreat the alien living among you … act compassionately toward those who are in need … love our neighbors as ourselves … [and] do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”
The resolution acknowledged the government’s lack of enforcement that has “caused severe consternation among a sizable constituency of Americans and has led to the crisis we now face” and stated that it is a violation of federal law to “bring in, harbor, shield from detection, transport, employ or encourage an unauthorized immigrant to remain” in the nation.
The messengers, through the wording of the document, urged the U.S. Congress to seriously address the issue of a reported 12 million illegal immigrants living in the nation and to enforce all existing immigration laws.
It then urged Christians “to act redemptively and reach out to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of all immigrants and within the law, to offer English As a Second Language and Citizenship classes … [and] make the most of the tremendous opportunity for evangelism, ministry, and discipleship …”
A second resolution on Pastors, Culture, and Christian Citizenship was submitted by Rusty Stewart, messenger from Poplar Springs North Baptist Church in Dublin.
The document took strong exception on a local Seventh-Day Adventist lay minister who was required to submit his sermons, notes, and transcripts – along with his ministerial credentials – to the State Attorney General within days of employment. Dr. Eric Walsh was then terminated within a week based on the content of those sermons.
The public outcry was so strong that the Attorney General’s office withdrew its request.
The resolution further stated that “ there is a great need for a new generation of pastors to take the lead in courageously confronting an American culture and government that is hurtling downward to new depths of moral decadence and for pastors to stand firm in the face of continued threats to the sanctity of human life, the sacredness of marriage between one man and one woman, to the Biblical identity of men and women as they were created by God and the fundamental freedom to express our faith in the public arena. It concluded by calling on Gov. Nathan Deal’s newly appointed Attorney General, Chris Carr, to not only withdraw his legal demands with Dr. Walsh, but also settle the case, and refrain from allowing any other such cases to happen in Georgia.”
Messengers then urged pastors “to preach the whole counsel of God, not only passionately inviting people to Jesus, but also prophetically declaring biblical truth concerning the burning moral issues that are being debated in the culture and government without fear of government reprisals; and “we encourage pastors to model and promote informed and active Christian citizenship among the membership of our churches …”
A final resolution expressed a Resolution of Appreciation to Calvary Baptist Temple and the Savannah Baptist Association for its generous hosting of the annual meeting. Messengers also thanked President Thomas Hammond for this leadership and Georgia Baptist Convention Executive Director J. Robert White on his 24 years of service.
The resolution was submitted by the 2016 Committee on Resolutions.