2022 South Carolina Baptist Resolutions
At Mountain Creek, we joyfully and wholeheartedly partner not only with the Southern Baptist Convention, but also with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Like the SBC, the SCBC holds an Annual Meeting each year, at which one of the items of business is to speak as a convention of churches on issues of the day in the form of resolutions. This past year, I had the privilege of serving alongside four other pastors from across South Carolina on our state convention’s Resolutions Committee, culminating in our presentation of eight resolutions that ultimately were approved unanimously by the Convention messengers.
In one way, resolutions may seem pointless: they possess no authority over local churches or individual Christians. This is the case because we believe, following not only our tradition but more importantly following Scripture, that each local church is autonomous. Neither the SBC nor the SCBC has control over local congregations. This is good, right, and biblical.
In another way, resolutions are important tools that help us speak in unity as a convention of churches. They are helpful statements to the broader world (including, but not limited to, our local, state, and nationally elected officials) of what we believe to be true, and they are helpful resources for our churches to instruct and encourage us to keep walking in step with other believers around us.
Our Southern Baptist Convention president, Bart Barber, said it like this in a 2021 interview with The Tennessean:
“A resolution encapsulates what one body of messengers (voting delegates from local churches) on one occasion thought about something at that moment in time. However, there are also times when the Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee (the convention’s public policy arm) needs to answer the question of, ‘Well, what does the body of the Southern Baptist Convention think?’ Because we said something, the ERLC can go to the state department, for example, and lobby on our behalf. We didn’t tell them to do that, but if the opportunity comes, they have the backstop of saying, ‘Thousands of Southern Baptist messengers voted to say that they know this is going on, that they don’t like it and something ought to be done.’”Bart Barber, SBC President
That’s a good way to put it: a resolution is simply what one group of messengers stated at one time on a specific topic, but it can have a continuing effect. In the same way that this is done nationally with the ERLC, it is also done at a state level from the Office of Public Policy of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
So, what did we as South Carolina Baptists resolve at our most recent Annual Meeting?
Of our eight resolutions, four expressed appreciation, celebration, or support:
- Appreciation for Riverland Hills Baptist Church for hosting the 2022 Annual Meeting;
- Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the South Carolina Baptist Collegiate Ministry;
- Supporting Christian Higher Education
- Appreciation for Dr. Gary Hollingsworth, our recently retired Executive Director / Treasurer of the SCBC
Of weightier matters, as a Convention we also spoke on four important topics, two regarding transgenderism and two regarding sexual abuse:
- The Use of Preferred Gender Pronouns;
- Encouraging the South Carolina Legislature to Pass a Law Protecting Minors by Prohibiting Transgender Surgery, Puberty Blockers, and Cross-Hormone Therapies;
- Exhorting SCBC Churches to Develop Biblical Definitions and Policies to Confront Sexual Abuse;
- Strengthening and Clarifying Laws Concerning Pastors and Churches Regarding Sexual Abuse
I’d like to encourage you to read over these resolutions, particularly these last four. All eight of the resolutions can be accessed at scbaptist.org/resource/2022-resolutions.
Finally, let me say this: while these resolutions urge us toward biblical faithfulness in an environment where it seems increasingly difficult, they also urge us to move forward in love for one another and love for those apart from Christ, both as expressions of our love for God. In these resolutions, we’re exhorted to show compassion and the kindness and truth of Christ; we’re exhorted to remember that all people are made in God’s image and that therefore every life has worth, dignity, and value; we’re exhorted to help those in need to find hope and healing and freedom in Christ; we’re exhorted to look out for the oppressed and to pursue justice, to protect the innocent and to support victims.
In short, even as they speak to lawmakers and the broader world, these resolutions exhort us to follow the way of Jesus, who said he came “to proclaim good news to the poor…. to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19, ESV).
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.