Becoming Part of the Southern Baptist Family Draws Focus In 2015

James MacDonald announces at the SBC Pastors’ Conference, June 15, 2015, that Harvest Bible Chapel has become part of the Southern Baptist family. Photo by Bill Bangham.
James MacDonald announces at the SBC Pastors’ Conference, June 15, 2015, that Harvest Bible Chapel has become part of the Southern Baptist family.
Photo by Bill Bangham.

Becoming part of the Southern Baptist family, both as a church and as an individual, has been on display in 2015.

In his address to the Executive Committee during its February meeting, SBC President Ronnie Floyd challenged the Convention to invite other churches “to come into our family and cooperate with us to finish the task of advancing the Gospel to every person in the world.”

A few months later, Pastor James MacDonald announced at the SBC Pastors’ Conference in Columbus, Ohio, that Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago had made the commitment to become a cooperating church with the SBC.

On August 16, Barry McCarty, who has served as chief parliamentarian at the SBC annual meeting for 29 successive years, and his wife Pat were baptized into the membership of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.

The appeal of cooperation

In his remarks to the Executive Committee, Floyd observed that there are thousands of churches across the U.S. that affirm the doctrines articulated in The Baptist Faith and Message, admire the SBC’s methods of doing missions across the world, and would be willing to help finance that work.

“What if we begin to call forth churches aggressively and outwardly, ‘Come and be a part of who we are and cooperate in reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?'” Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., asked.

“I believe there are churches all over America who have an interest in becoming a part of our network of churches called Southern Baptists,” he said.

MacDonald, founder of the multi-site Harvest Bible Chapel in the greater Chicago area, prefaced his June 15 announcement by noting he was a “Baptist kid who grew up in Canada” and that he had been ordained there in a Baptist church.

“In our desire to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth and our sense of the way God honors broader partnerships,” he said, “and the fact, frankly, that we’ve been treated like family here [at the Pastors’ Conference] for more than a decade, I’m just thrilled and truly honestly humbled to announce that the board of our church, Harvest Bible Chapel, voted unanimously about a month ago for us to join the Southern Baptist Convention.”

MacDonald’s announcement was greeted with applause and shouts of joy across the convention hall.

Serving 16 SBC presidents as chief parliamentarian afforded McCarty more platform time at SBC annual meetings than any other individual over a 29- year span and gave him a unique perspective.

“I immersed myself in the content of The Baptist Faith and Message and grew to love the way it summarized the Christian faith,” he told the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Christian Index.

“I especially appreciated its clear statement on salvation by grace through faith, while also affirming believer’s baptism as the biblical testimony of a saving faith in the work of Christ,” he said.

McCarty cited three primary reasons for his decision to become a Southern Baptist. “First,” he noted, “while Southern Baptists are not a creedal people, they are a confessional people. And at this point in history The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is the best statement of faith I know of.

“Second, right now no one is speaking to our culture on the great moral issues with as much clarity or biblical integrity as Southern Baptists.

“Third, at this point in history no one is doing more to penetrate lostness around the world than Southern Baptists,” he said.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Roger S. Oldham