Despite some differences of opinion taking place inside the Southern Baptist Convention, the president of the largest Protestant denomination in America is urging unity.
The SBC’s Executive Committee formed an ad hoc committee last month to explore how many churches are escrowing funds from the Cooperative Program – the funding mechanism for SBC agencies – and to find “redemptive solutions” to the situation.
Some churches that are withholding funds have expressed concerns about the president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore, who came under fire during the recent presidential campaign for his rhetoric against then-candidate Donald Trump and his evangelical supporters. Churches were also concerned about a friend-of-the-court brief signed by the ERLC and the International Mission Board that supports the efforts of a Muslim group to build a mosque in New Jersey.
The latter concern prompted a motion this summer at the denomination’s annual meeting, calling for the firing of SBC officials who supported the building of mosques. It was eventually ruled out of order.
SBC president Steve Gaines is confident that internal disputes won’t separate the denomination.
“We ought to be able to talk about our differences and discuss them and even debate them, if need be, and to find out a solution,” he tells OneNewsNow. “But at the end of the day, hopefully [we can] come down with common ground and not have any type of division.”
Dr. Gaines, the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in suburban Memphis, Tennessee, says taking the gospel to the ends of the world is the common ground that unites Southern Baptists.
“I think we’re going to stay together – and there will be differences of opinion,” he acknowledges. “But I think at the end of the day, we’re going to realize that we are all better together than we are separate. There is too much at stake for us to allow the enemy to divide us.”
Moore assumed the ERLC’s leadership role in 2013, succeeding Dr. Richard Land who had led the group since its inception in 1988.