History Being Made

Today, in all likelihood, the Southern Baptist Convention will elect an African-American as its first president in its 167 year history.

That says a lot about a group that has its roots in the politics of slavery.

The Southern Baptist Convention began in 1845 largely due to the refusal of Northern Baptists to recognize slave owners as missionaries. For over 150 years, the Convention remained silent on the issue. Over the past two decades, though, the Convention has taken steps to recant its past. At its 150th anniversary meeting in 1995, it passes a resolution of apology and reconciliation for its racist past.

Fred Luter helped write it.

Today, Fred Luter Jr., pastor of New Orleans’ Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, is unopposed for election as president. Perhaps the most eloquent description of Luter was given by Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay – read it here.

I’ve always loved history – but it’s really exciting being a part of it.

30 Years Ago…

30 years ago this week I was just finishing up the first year of my master’s program at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. I was also employed by SBTS as an audiovisual technician, and I was working the convention in two roles: running the multimedia program for the Seminary’s alumni luncheon, and serving as a photographer for the Seminary’s new President, Roy Honeycutt, who had just been named the Seminary’s 8th president.

I was also a part-time staff member of one of the largest SBC churches in the state, serving as Minister of Media for Highview Baptist Church in Louisville. The pastor did a live radio show every afternoon during drive time, and using that connection, I was able to do live radio news reports throughout the convention.

1982 was still the “early years” of the controversy in SBC life, so there was a lot going on at the convention. I love history but am not a historian; I wrestle with theology but am not a theologian. This post is not about what happened in SBC life during the early 80’s – history records it.

This is about today.

I am in New Orleans this week, once again attending the Southern Baptist Convention. A lot has happened in 30 years…

This time around, I am attending the SBC Pastor’s Conference and the Convention as an Auxano team member. My role at Auxano includes that of convention manager, coordinating our team at convention events. I will also be working in the Exhibit Hall area, in the LifeWay exhibit where Auxano has a white board conversation space.

Last night I served as host of the Green Room for the Pastor’s Conference. The Green Room is like a speaker’s lounge, where the speakers and family can relax before and after an event. As it was father’s day, the opening lineup consisted of father and son teams: Bailey Smith and J. Josh Smith; Don Wilton and Rob Wilton; Ronnie Floyd and Nick Floyd; and Tony Evans and Anthony Evans. It was great meeting these men, and since several of them were Auxano clients, we caught up on where they’ve been – and where they’re headed next. Exciting stuff!

I will be Tweeting as time allows (@auxano) and also trying to make notes for later reflection. I would love to hear any comments you might have about the SBC, the past 30 years, and where you are today.