Southern Baptists seem to have put their hand in the hand of the Man who stills the waters. At least there was barely a ripple at the 116th annual Southern Baptist Convention in Portland, Oregon, last month, the first time the largest Protestant denomination in North America migrated to the Pacific Northwest for its annual session.
The closest thing to turmoil was a brief clash over Women’s Lib, when Mrs. Richard Sappington, wife of a Houston pastor, disarmingly put down an attempt by the resolutions committee to water down her resolution defending scriptural precepts of the women’s place in society against the attacks of Liberationists. The attractive Texan affirmed that Christ is the head of every man, man is the head of the woman, and children are to be in subjection to their parents—in the Lord. Almost all the convention’s 8,800 “messengers”—90 per cent of whom were males—thundered a hearty “aye.”
The convention’s tranquility was noted by veterans who weathered storms of yesteryear when liberalism suspected of creeping into denominational Sunday-school material occupied major time and attention. This year there wasn’t a mumbling official word on the Broadman series. “It was one of the quietest conventions in the past ten years,” declared messenger Ed Pettis of Shreveport, Louisiana, who is also religion editor of the city’s evening paper. And Owen Cooper, 65, of Yazoo City, Mississippi, who was returned to a second year as SBC president by acclamation, concurred: “People want to get on with the main business,” he said. “Divisive issues don’t help this.”
Southern Baptists are getting it on. They took justifiable pride in layman Cooper’s glowing “State of the Convention” report. In the past year, membership increased 240,821 ...1
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