Southern Baptists to change name

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OKLAHOMA CITY — About 650,000 Oklahomans consider themselves Southern Baptists. But the term may be going by the wayside. This week, the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention heard a recommendation to change the name.

The term “Southern” Baptist first came about in the 19th century when Baptists in the south split from those in the north over the issue of slavery.

So for some, it still carries negative connotations.

The official recommendation is to keep Southern Baptist Convention as the legal name, but start informally using another one, one they say better defines their mission, Great Commission Baptists.

“The Great Commission being the time after the Lord Jesus resurrected from the dead before he ascended to Heaven gave some very specific instructions to his believers … they should go and take the gospel to all parts of the world,” Brian Hobbs said, communication director for the Oklahoma Southern Baptist Convention.

“We’re not ashamed of our identity, that’s not it at all. But there seems to be a certain association maybe with fried chicken and three-legged races and just some of the problems in the south in the past,” First Baptist Church of Moore pastor Kevin Clarkson said.

Pastor Clarkson is in favor of the name change.

“I would vote yay. I think for a new generation, we need it, I really do.”

“Man, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Olivet Baptist Church pastor Steve Kern said.

Kern says the term Southern Baptist Convention is iconic and doesn’t feel changing the name will benefit the organization.

“Changing the name is not going to change their attitude. Apparently a lot of people have a problem with Southern Baptists because Southern Baptists are conservative.”

Individual churches would make their own decisions about how to use the new name.

And any name change would have to be voted on at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual conventions for the next two years in a row.

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