Southern Baptist Military Chaplains May Plant Churches Overseas


Southern Baptist military chaplains would be authorized to plant churches overseas under a recommendation headed toward the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 16-17 in Columbus, Ohio.

In February, the SBC Executive Committee approved a recommendation enabling the North American Mission Board to “provide specialized, defined and agreed upon assistance to the International Mission Board in assisting churches to plant churches for specific groups outside the United States and Canada.”

In an email to SBC entity heads and state convention executives, NAMB President Kevin Ezell said the request is being driven in part by a climate in the United States that is “more hostile toward religious liberties.”

The agency wants to be positioned to “take proactive steps should large numbers of our military chaplains decide they can no longer serve the military in good conscience,” Ezell said.

“If that becomes the case, we would like the freedom to plant churches adjacent to military bases outside the United States with the specific purpose of serving the U.S. military population.”

The new assignment would be a good fit for NAMB, the endorsing entity for Southern Baptist chaplains serving in the U.S. military, Ezell said. According to a 2013 article in SBC Life, Southern Baptists have 1,440 endorsed chaplains serving in the U.S. military, more than any other denomination or faith group. Christianity Today recently reported new Department of Defense statistics showing Southern Baptists make up about 1 percent of the nation’s current military force and are outnumbered by atheists.

SBC-endorsed chaplains have served in all major U.S. conflicts for the last 150 years.

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