Remember The Year Without a Santa Claus? Santa woke up with a cold in the 1974 animated special, so he took his doctor’s advice to go on a December vacation. By the end of the show, however, Santa was back on the job in the nick of time, because no one could imagine a year without a Santa Claus.
The same might be said of a summer without a Southern Baptist Convention. But here on the cusp of June, it’s really going to happen. And maybe, that’s a good thing.
For the first time since World War II, Southern Baptists are skipping the annual meeting for the sake of safety. And the overall outcome? 2020 will be remembered for what we didn’t do.
We didn’t fight.
With no election for SBC president, Reformed and Traditional leaders positioning for a showdown will have to wait another year to join the confrontation over their divergent views. Southern Seminary President Al Mohler announced his candidacy early, to find the Northwest Baptist Convention Executive Director declaring his own run to bring new direction for the SBC. Randy Adams advocated a turn away from some social issues and debate over the role of women, and a return to evangelism as central to Baptists’ mission.
That election goes on hold, and J.D. Greear, who has already served through two tumultuous years that included the sex abuse scandal, will serve an additional one-year term. It appeared Greear would exit the hot seat before the next big issue: the SBC Executive Committee’s probe of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
2020 will be the year that ERLC President Russell Moore avoided floor debate over his leadership of the SBC’s voice in Washington, and his perceived disfavor with the Trump administration.
In a year without an election, new head of the SBC Executive Committee Ronnie Floyd has an opportunity to consolidate his leadership. For example, when objections arose over the slate of speakers for the Pastors’ Conference, EC leaders called for changes to the controversial line-up, but the whole Orlando event was canceled before the deadline arrived. Another disaster averted.
2020 might be the year we talk about encouraging greater participation in the SBC through online elections, and welcome more decisions affecting state-level ministries made in the states.
But more likely, 2020 will simply be the year Baptists didn’t argue, because we didn’t meet. And who could have imagined that.
Eric Reed is editor of Illinois Baptist media.