Despite ice storm, Exec. Committee moves ahead

NASHVILLE (BP) -- "Brrrrr," Hawaii pastor Chris Metcalf responded to the roll call Feb. 16 for the SBC Executive Committee's evening session in frozen Nashville.

Metcalf, pastor of Lihue Baptist Church in Hawaii, was among 44 EC members who comprised a quorum to conduct business on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention, which will hold its annual meeting June 16-17 in Columbus, Ohio.

"Welcome to cold and frosty and snowy Nashville, Tenn.," EC chairman Mike Routt, lead pastor of Colorado Springs' Circle Drive Baptist Church, said in opening the EC meeting.

"If you have one inch of snow, it shuts down the entire city," Routt quipped. "Denver had eight inches today and it's business as usual."

The EC's quorum requirement is half of its 82 members -- plus one -- representing 34 state and multi-state regions throughout the nation.

A state of emergency to deploy the National Guard was declared mid-afternoon on Feb. 16 as ice, sleet and snow gripped the region. Drivers on several interstates faced lengthy closures due to accidents -- one in which a mother and young child were killed by a tractor-trailer rig after stopping to help injured passengers in an overturned SUV. Dozens of accidents also were reported on secondary roads.

EC officers and EC President Frank S. Page decided Sunday (Feb. 15) to move forward with the Feb. 16-17 sessions since members of the Cooperative Program Committee and a number of other EC members had arrived in Nashville that day. Canceled flights and treacherous road conditions prevented nearly 40 other EC members from traveling to Nashville during the day on Feb. 16.

Once the meeting was underway, a sense of Baptist normalcy eased over the auditorium in the SBC Building, buoyed by Page conducting a resolute singing of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" by EC members and other attendees -- including mission board presidents David Platt of the IMB and Kevin Ezell of NAMB and a number of state Baptist convention presidents and executive directors.

SBC President Ronnie Floyd, in his message Monday night, drew from Jesus' words, "I Will Build My Church."

Floyd challenged Southern Baptist leaders to build momentum for the upcoming annual meeting in Columbus; to tell "the compelling story" of Southern Baptists with conviction and clarity; to stand for religious freedom internationally amid onslaughts by ISIS against Christians and other Mideast minorities; and to encourage other like-minded congregations to become Southern Baptists.

Floyd also continued his often-voiced yearning for spiritual awakening in America to reverse the nation's moral demise and to stir Christians to take the Gospel to the world's unreached masses.

Noting the "Great Awakening" theme for the SBC annual meeting, Floyd said he knows of no other solution "than God coming down and meeting with us powerfully and miraculously like only God can do."

Page, in his EC report, recounted the work of the EC staff's five divisions during 2014 and looked forward to the year ahead. He reported that a CP promotion campaign called Great Commission Advance will launch in 2015 and conclude at CP's 100th anniversary in 2025, while the work of various advisory councils continues in an effort to increase the involvement of ethnic and other subgroups in the SBC.

In their business session the morning of Feb. 17, EC members approved several recommendations to the annual meeting, including:

-- a new name, Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, from the former Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, in view of the seminary relocating its primary campus to the Los Angeles area from the San Francisco area.

-- an amended North American Mission Board ministry statement to include planting churches overseas in agreed-upon instances with the International Mission Board, akin to an amended IMB ministry statement in 2011 to allow the IMB to assist with unreached people groups in the U.S. and Canada. EC members were told that the amended NAMB statement will relate particularly to military chaplains stationed at bases overseas.

-- SBC bylaw amendments to allow for the potential use of electronic voting devices in the convention hall, after this year's meeting in Columbus, and to establish a quorum for voting on all matters of SBC business as those present at the time of a ballot.

An expanded story about EC action on various business matters will appear in Baptist Press on Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. Contributing to this report were Diana Chandler, BP's special assignment writer/editor; David Roach, BP chief national correspondent; and Marcia Knox, BP editorial assistant.
BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP).
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