Pastor Post - June 22, 2016
FBC is blessed to be a part of a family of churches, the Southern Baptist Convention. In fact, our church has been a part of the SBC family since its inception. On the day in 1845 when the original delegates gathered in Augusta, GA, to found the SBC, the pastor of FBC-Suffolk was one of them!
I was not able to attend this year’s gathering in St. Louis, but I do want to share with you a couple of highlights. Steve Gaines, the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, in Memphis, was elected as the new President of the Convention. But how he was elected provided a remarkable and wonderful Kingdom moment. When the vote was held on Tuesday, Gaines and JD Greear, pastor of the Summit Church in Durham, NC, were practically tied. Since neither got a majority, there was a run-off. But even after the run-off, neither had a majority. A third vote was to be taken on Wednesday. Before then, the two men got together to pray. As they did, Pastor Greear felt led to withdraw his candidacy and encourage the Convention to elect Pastor Gaines by acclamation! The two men came out and spoke to the messengers, and it provided a beautiful example of humility and unity. Those who were there felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in a powerful way. That’s what happens when we follow the example of Christ to lay down our own rights for the good of others.
That principle also pertains to another highlight of this year’s convention, the passing of a resolution on the display of the Confederate battle flag. As the direct descendent of a Confederate soldier, and as a student of history, I was following this with great interest. Most Confederate soldiers did not own slaves and viewed themselves as fighting out of loyalty to their states. Therefore, I do not believe that monuments to Confederate soldiers should be taken down. However, I do agree with the resolution that the Convention overwhelmingly passed, which urged Christians to “discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters.” To many people, the flag is a symbol of slavery and oppression. That is certainly not the intent of many people who display it, but it is the effect on many others, and thus it can hinder our witness. As in all matters, the gospel has to come first. I agree with what Dr. James Merritt said in speaking for the resolution: “All the Confederate flags in the world are not worth one soul of any race.” We are called to give up our rights out of love for others and the progress of the gospel, just as Jesus gave up his rights out of love for us.
Since I’m running out of space, I’ll share part two of highlights from the SBC next week! Love you all. Be in prayer for all our summer events and camps, and keep sharing Jesus wherever you are this summer.
See you this Sunday!
Dr. Thurman Hayes, Jr.