Southern Baptists to stick (mostly) with same name

February 21, 2012

c. 2012 Religion News Service
(RNS) A task force is recommending that the Southern Baptist Convention
maintain its official name but give members of the nation's largest
Protestant denomination the option of calling themselves "Great Commission Baptists."

The recommendation on Monday (Feb. 20) determined that changing the
Southern Baptist Convention name was fraught with legal and logistical problems.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, a
traditionalist and a member of the task force, had long favored a name change
but said it is likely too difficult to pull off.

Patterson, a former SBC president, cited the "enormous legal fees"
involved in changing congregational and state convention names as well as trusts
and other documents. He hopes the compromise will satisfy those who wanted a
name change.

"I think that, if anything, it's a case of our having our cake and getting
to eat it, too," he said.

Pastor Micah Fries of St. Joseph, Mo., another member of the task force,
agreed that the unanimous recommendation was the best option, despite a
desire by many to move away from a name that has its origins in a Civil War-era
defense of slavery.

"From a legal perspective, an actual name change was probably an
impossibility," Fries said. "This is probably the best-case scenario."
The term "Great Commission" comes from Jesus' call for his followers to
spread his message worldwide, a hallmark of Southern Baptist identity.

If the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee accepts the
recommendation, the proposal could come to a vote at the SBC's annual meeting in
June in New Orleans.