The June 21 gathering in New York City will take place less than a week after the conclusion of Southern Baptists’ annual meeting, this year held in St. Louis. Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd, who will surrender the gavel as the SBC president following his two terms in that role, will be among those meeting with Trump.
“We want to talk to Mr. Trump humbly. He doesn’t need to hear us preach. He needs to hear our heart,” Floyd told Baptist Press. “We need to talk to him about what matters to us. The term evangelical is not a voting block. The term evangelical is a name tag, a declaration of who we are, about various truths of the Scripture.”
Former SBC presidents Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX, and Ed Young, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston, will also be in attendance.
The announcement just prior to both Hillary Clinton and Trump, in separate video messages, courting Latino evangelical leaders last weekend at the annual national conference for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Anaheim, CA.
TIME Magazine initially reported the number of attendees to be at 400. Former presidential candidate Ben Carson, along with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and Bill Dallas, who leads United in Purpose, are planning the event. A larger “steering group” of about 20 people includes Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and American Values president Gary Bauer.
Floyd admitted that Trump’s unexpected rise reflects the mood of the nation. However, evangelicals feel about that, he stated it’s imperative to take part in the electoral process.
“Evangelicals cannot sit this out,” he said. “I think we have a biblical responsibility and I think we have a responsibility as citizens of the United States to participate and be a part of the political processes of this country. Men and women have died on the battle fields all across this world so that I might have that liberty and that privilege, and I will take that privilege always with humility and give honor to our nation, regardless of where our nation is, because I think it’s the right thing to do.”