Barber highlights changes, plans for SBC annual meeting


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In his report to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committeeon Monday, Bart Barber outlined new efforts to implement what he believes messengers have called on SBC leadership to do as the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting approaches.

Among the updates, the Southern Baptist Convention president announced efforts to implement a new resolutions process. He also noted he will announce members of the resolutions committee by the end of February.

“We’ve changed our process, and I’m happy to say for the first time ever this year you will know what the proposed resolutions are for the SBC Annual meeting well before we gather in Indianapolis,” said Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church Farmersville, Texas.

“You’ll have a chance to reflect upon those, think upon those and … you’ll have the chance to pray about those and seek that the Holy Spirit will lead us to agreement about these matters of what we want to say.”

Barber also gave an update on efforts to receive recommendations for committee members through a public portal. Quoting a church staff member, he described the process of requesting recommendations as a “chicken in one hand and feathers in the other.”

“Everybody in the state of Texas wants to serve on the resolutions committee,” he quipped.  “Some places respond well and give you a lot of names, and some places don’t. But the portal is going to make a lot of difference. We worked to select the very best candidates from the names that were given to serve in those ways.”

To allow messengers time to tackle more business and ask more questions during this year’s annual meeting, Barber announced adding a fifth session.

“We’re going to have a Tuesday night session,” he noted. “The fact of the matter is more people are coming to the annual meeting. More business is being transacted at the annual meeting. More questions are being faced at the annual meeting — and they did not buy hotel rooms and airplane tickets to come hear me preach.”

He added, “They came because they believe we’re facing important decisions … and we’re going to give the time necessary to do that job and do it well.”

Among important decisions facing the SBC, Barber noted the weight he’s felt in appointment of the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force, the Cooperation Group and the Great Commission Resurgence Evaluation Task Force. As SBC president, Barber said he has taken the selection of these committees and their work extremely seriously.

“I am tasked with protecting the messengers’ rights, with answering the messengers’ questions and with implementing the messengers’ decisions,” he said. “This commitment in my heart is not grounded merely in governing documents and historical precedence.

“It is grounded in the pages of Scripture,” he noted. “It is grounded in the theological truths articulated so beautifully in the Baptist Faith and Message, and it’s grounded in the very promise of Jesus at the laying of the church’s foundation.

“And that’s a good thing because we have a shaky trust if our trust is in manmade documents, governing or otherwise,” he noted. “How good it is to know that we have the promise of Christ, to make us smarter than we really are and to lead us to do the right thing. Let us seize upon His promises. … Let us hear what the Spirit has said to the churches and let us act.”