“I was warned that it would be tricky to lead the Southern Baptist Convention. But I don’t think any of us saw this coming,” said SBC President J.D. Greear in announcing that for the first time in 75 years, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in June had been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The decision was made unanimously by the SBC Executive Committee, the SBC officers and the Great Commission Council, which consists of the six seminary presidents, the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, GuideStone Financial Resources and LifeWay Christian Resources, Greear noted. Both Sandy Wisdom-Martin from the Woman’s Missionary Union and Russell Moore of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission affirmed the decision.
“In one sense, this was a difficult decision for us. Gathering regularly to hear about the great things God is doing in the present and to seek His face together for the future is an essential part of who we are as a convention, and we will be saddened to forego this opportunity in June,” Greear said.
“But in another sense, this decision was easy,” he added. “Our purpose in coming together is to support one another in gospel mission and to better catalyze our collective mission efforts. This year, the best way to accomplish that purpose is by not meeting together.
“I don’t need to tell you how many of our churches are hurting right now. Or, how most of our communities are experiencing unprecedented need. In this extraordinary hour, pastors need to be focused on their people, and churches need to be focused on their communities,” said Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area. “In this moment, keeping the gospel above all means staying where we are to minister to those who need us.”