Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Nick?

A Baptist Press article dated Feb. 24 announces an upcoming vote at the June 2012 convention on whether Southern Baptists will change their name...sort of. The actual task force recommendation which the Executive Committee approved would not change the legal name, but instead would permit using a non-legal descriptor. A nickname, if you will. Furthermore, its use would be entirely voluntary (sometimes it is amazing how many rules we SBC folk have amassed when you consider how much of it is "voluntary"). Therefore if your church wants to stick with the descriptor "Southern Baptist" (or "Southren Babdist" as they say in some parts), you can go for it.

Why the prospective name change? Well, it seems it's a little more challenging to do church plants in, say, New York or Greenland, with a geographical reference like Southern in your name. The thought is people may tend to regard your denomination as being limited to a certain area of the country. Not sure why that is. After all, in a country where the Dallas Cowboys can be in the NFC East division and Texas A&M, a former Southwest Conference team (back when the Southwest Conference still existed) can join another former Southwest Conference team, the Arkansas Razorbacks, in the Southeast Conference, it would appear that at least in the football world directional cues are not such a big deal. Maybe it's different in the Protestant denominational world.

Whatever the reason, it looks like the SBC may soon be called something else. The task force which recommended the change had asked for suggestions and received 1151 suggested new names according to the Baptist Press. Many of these, such as the top suggestion (Global Baptist Convention), appear sensitive to avoiding limiting the denomination name to a particular geographical area. The International Baptist Convention, at number two on the list, World Baptist Convention at number nine, Worldwide Baptist Convention at number ten, and Global Baptist Convention at number fourteen all seem geared toward recognizing that the SBC does church all over the world. I did not see that the suggestion Heavens and the Earth Baptist Convention made the list, perhaps that would be thought a little grandiloquent. However, Universal Baptist Convention did come in number twenty, according to the Baptist Press.

Some suggestions did maintain a little geography, with North American Baptist Convention coming in at number six and American Baptist Convention and Baptist Convention of America coming in at numbers eight and twelve, respectively. Perhaps those voters figured the Anglicans put churches all over the world but held on to a national reference in their name, so why not?

And you gotta appreciate the simplicity of numbers seven and eleven: The Baptist Convention and Baptist Convention. Amazing that a simple definite article can account for a four-place jump in the rankings.

Looks like most are agreed we want to keep the name Baptist in our name, and that's probably good, because, well, we are Baptists. John the Baptist was one, you know. Well, okay, he was a baptist, not a Baptist, but it sure impressed me when I was a little kid, before I was a Baptist.

Oh, and the name that was picked by the task force? Great Commission Baptists. Yeah, it's a couple more syllables, but I think we might get used to it.


herewegoagain said...

Wait, are you a Baptist?

mike said...

Credo, no less.