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SBC Executive Committee rejects amendment to name change stance
-- By Norman Miller
    ATLANTA June 15, 1999--The Southern Baptist Executive Committee met June 14 to consider the adoption of its 72nd annual report prior to the SBC annual meeting, June 15-16 in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
    Executive Committee member Blaine Barber of Michigan offered an amendment to the report, asking the Executive Committee to reconsider its recommendation that the name of the SBC not be changed.
    Barber alluded to two motions made during last year's SBC meeting in Salt Lake City that were referred to the Executive Committee. The motions asked for studies to be undertaken that would help determine whether the 154-year-old convention should change its name.
    "We want to take something that's great and make it even greater," Barber said, referring to the SBC. "We want to enlarge our denomination."
    Barber said he couldn't support keeping the SBC's name the same "because we are still going back to the 1975 study" which recommended against a name change. "Less than 1,000 people determined" the outcome of the 1975 survey, said Barber. Ninety percent of those surveyed "lived in the Bible Belt, so I don't feel this is a fair survey ... ."
    "We have the opportunity to make a difference in this world by taking the name Southern out of our convention because of the racial overtones," Barber said. "It would be a giant leap in bridging the gap between the races in our denomination," he said.
    He also noted the geographical stigma associated with trying to plant Southern Baptist churches in his home state of Michigan, saying it proved "difficult" to get people in the North to join an organization that seems geographically defined.
    One of two Executive Committee members speaking against Barber's amendment was Paul Kaneshiro from Hawaii.
    Noting that he lives much farther from the Bible Belt than people in Michigan do, he said the name "Southern Baptist" has become identified in today's culture as representing an organization that stands for biblical morals in society.
    "I fear that to change our name would give the wrong impression to some that we are trying to move away from that reputation," said Kaneshiro.
    With no further discussion, Barber's amendment overwhelmingly defeated.
    In other action, the Executive Committee:
    -- unanimously adopted a recommendation that made the SBC the sole member of the corporations of four of its agencies: the Annuity Board, as well as Midwestern, Southwestern and Golden Gate seminaries.
    -- received as information a report from the Executive Committee's business and finance subcommittee that noted the SBC had received and distributed $83.2 million between the months of October 1998 and March 1999, which reflects a 5 percent increase in funds for the same time period in the previous budget year.
    -- awarded plaques of appreciation for several Executive Committee members whose terms have expired, including chairman James Merritt, pastor of First Baptist Snellville, Ga.; vice chairman Rex Terry, an attorney from Fort Smith, Ark.; and secretary Forrest Lowry, pastor of Spring Baptist Church in Spring, Texas.

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