Springfield | When messengers to the 2023 IBSA Annual Meeting gather in Marion November 8-9, they will be asked to vote on a resolution calling for prayer to end the conflict in Israel. The Committee on Resolutions and Christian Life will bring the motion along with three others, at a convention that focuses broadly on church health, the wellbeing of pastors, and missions.
“Illinois Baptists are urged to honor, support, and uphold in prayer the work of Christians in Israel and the Middle East,” the resolution says, “both Messianic Jews and Palestinian believers, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with their unbelieving relatives, neighbors on all sides of the conflict…” Read the resolution in the 2023 IBSA Book of Reports.
The document traces God’s covenant relationship with Israel and the admonition for his people to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Other Southern Baptist entities and their leaders made statements quickly about the deadly conflict after Hamas terrorists attacked Israelis. One news analyst said that Southern Baptists, with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in the lead, were heading the evangelical response. The International Mission Board and the SBC Executive Committee both posted prayer guides.
While supporting the calls for prayer, IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams preferred to give Illinois Baptists themselves opportunity for response through a broader, more official mechanism.
“I try to exercise restraint in making personal statements or even signing others’ statements, especially on political or even legislative matters,” Adams said. “I feel most confident speaking for Illinois Baptists when messengers to our Annual Meeting first speak through a carefully considered resolution.”
Adams has used this approach when responding to pending legislation or pro-life issues, drawing on previous resolutions by messengers at the state and national convention levels.
The Committee on Resolutions met online and chose to bring the resolution to the messengers so it carries the weight of some 900 IBSA churches.
The statement concludes, “Be it resolved that Illinois Baptists, through their State Association, join together with the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention in urging national lawmakers and policy makers to sustain support for modern day Israel, even as the Church upholds spiritual Israel before God Almighty.”
In the meantime, Illinois Baptists have responded to calls for prayer, including Ric Worshill, the executive director of the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship. “It’s just heartbreaking because this year has been the highest in anti-Semitism throughout the world since the Holocaust, and it’s really sad that they would pick the last day of a Jewish holiday to do all this barbaric stuff.”
Worshill, who lives in metro Chicago, called for unity among Southern Baptists. “We need to be one,” he told Baptist Press. “We need to be one about everything. We need to be one about the Lord. We need to be one about politics. And we need to be one about being against the attacks of Satan in prayer. That’s the biggest thing I can say. There should be no division in the body of Christ. We, Southern Baptists, need to stick together.”
For more information on the gathering, visit IBSA.org/IBSAannualmeeting.