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Southern Baptist Convention
Reaching the world for Christ.
Classification Protestant
Theology Evangelical Baptist
Governance Congregational
Geographical areas United States
Origin May 8–12, 1845
Augusta, Georgia
Separated from Triennial Convention
Separations American Baptist Association,
Alliance of Baptists,
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Congregations 43,669
Members 16.2 million
Official Website
Statistics for 2005[1]

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a United States-based, Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the US with over 16 million members and more than 42,000 churches.[2]

The word Southern in Southern Baptist Convention stems from its having been founded and rooted in the Southern United States. The SBC became a separate denomination in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, following a regional split with northern Baptists over the issues of slavery and missions. Since the 1940s, the SBC has lost some of its regional identity.[3] While still heavily concentrated in the US South, the SBC has member churches across America and has 42 state conventions.[4]

Southern Baptists put a heavy emphasis on the individual conversion experience including a public immersion in water for baptism and a corresponding rejection of infant baptism.[4] SBC churches are evangelical in doctrine and practice. Specific beliefs based on biblical interpretation can vary somewhat due to the congregational governance system that gives autonomy to individual local Baptist churches.



Part of a series on
Southern Baptists


General Baptists,
Strict Baptists
& Reformed Baptists
"Conservative Resurgence"

Baptist theology

London Confession, 1689
New Hampshire Confession, 1833
Baptist Faith & Message

Doctrinal distinctives

Biblical inerrancy
Autonomy of the local church
Priesthood of believers
Two ordinances
Individual soul liberty
Separation of church and state
Two offices


E. Y. Mullins | James P. Boyce
John A. Broadus | A. T. Robertson
John Spilsbury
Lottie Moon · Annie Armstrong
B. H. Carroll
W. A. Criswell ·
Monroe E. Dodd
Adrian Rogers ·
Jerry Falwell, Sr.


Mark Dever · James T. Draper, Jr.
Billy Graham ·
Franklin Graham
Duke K. McCall
Jack Graham ·
Richard Land
Mike Huckabee ·
Johnny Hunt
James Merritt ·
Albert Mohler
Paige Patterson ·
Pat Robertson
Charles F. Stanley
Rick Warren

Related organizations

North American Mission Board
International Mission Board
LifeWay Christian Resources
Woman's Missionary Union
Religious Liberty Commission
Baptist Press
Canadian National Baptist Convention


Golden Gate
New Orleans


Most early Baptists in the British colonies came from England in the seventeenth century, when the established Church of England persecuted them for their distinct religious views. Baptists like Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke immigrated to New England in the 1630s.

The oldest Baptist church in the South, First Baptist Church, Charleston, South Carolina, was organized in 1682 under the leadership of Rev. William Screven. A Baptist church was formed in Virginia in 1715 through the preaching of Robert Norden, and another in North Carolina in 1727 through the ministry of Paul Palmer. By 1740, there were about eight Baptist churches in the colonies of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, with an estimated 300-400 members.[5] New members, both black and white, were converted chiefly by northern Baptist preachers who traveled in the South during the Great Awakening. Baptists welcomed African Americans to more active roles than did other denominations. As a result, black congregations and churches were founded in South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia before the Revolution.[6]

In Virginia and most southern colonies before the Revolution, the Anglican Church was the state-established church and was supported by general taxes, as it was in Britain. It opposed the rapid spread of Baptists in the South. Particularly in Virginia, many Baptist preachers were prosecuted for "disturbing the peace" by preaching without licenses from the Anglican Church. Both Patrick Henry and James Madison defended Baptist preachers prior to the American Revolution in cases considered significant to the history of religious freedom.[7] In 1779, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, enacted in 1786 by the Virginia General Assembly. Madison later took his own ideas and the ideas encompassed in this document about the importance of religious freedom to the Constitutional Convention, where he ensured they were incorporated into the constitution.

Triennial Convention

By the mid-1800s, numerous social, cultural, economic, and political differences existed among business owners of the North, farmers of the West, and planters of the South. These differences led to the formation of three separate Baptist national societies: the Triennial Convention, the Home Mission Society, and Baptists in the South.

Slavery was the most critical issue among Baptists. Early Baptist and Methodist evangelicals in the South before the Revolution had promoted the view of the common man's equality before God, which embraced African Americans. They challenged the hierarchies of class and race, and urged planters to abolish slavery.[8]

Baptists struggled to gain a foothold in the South. The next generation of Baptist preachers accommodated themselves to the society. Rather than challenging the gentry on slavery, they began to interpret the Bible as supporting its practice. In the two decades after the Revolution, preachers abandoned their pleas that slaves be manumitted.[9] Many Baptist preachers even wanted to preserve the rights of ministers themselves to be slaveholders.[10] The Triennial Convention and the Home Mission Society reaffirmed their neutrality concerning slavery.

Georgia Baptists decided to test the claimed neutrality by recommending a slaveholder to the Home Mission Society as a missionary in the South. Home Mission Society's board refused to appoint a slaveholder as a missionary, a decision that the Baptists in the South saw as an infringement of their rights.[11]

A secondary issue that disturbed the churches in the South was the perception that the American Baptist Home Mission Society[12] did not appoint a proportionate number of missionaries to the southern region of the U.S. This was likely a result of the Society's not appointing slave owners as missionaries.[13]

Baptists in different regions also preferred different types of denominational organization. Baptists in the north preferred a loosely structured society composed of individuals who paid annual dues, with each society usually focused on a single ministry. Baptists in southern churches preferred a more centralized organization of congregations composed of churches patterned after their associations, with a variety of ministries brought under the direction of one denominational organization.[14]


The increasing tensions and discontent of Baptists from the South regarding national criticism of slavery and issues over missions led to their withdrawal from the national Baptist organizations.[15] They met at the First Baptist Church of Augusta,[16] in May 1845. At this historic meeting they formed a new convention, naming it the Southern Baptist Convention. They elected William Bullein Johnson (1782–1862) as the new convention's first president. He had served as president of the Triennial Convention in 1841.

Consequences and repentance of early racism

Residual effects of the decision to separate from other Baptists in defense of white supremacy and the institution of slavery have been long lived. A survey by SBC's Home Mission Board in 1968 showed that only eleven percent of Southern Baptist churches would admit Americans of African descent.[17] African Americans gathered to develop their own churches early on, including some before the American Revolution, to practice their distinct form of American Christianity away from attempts by whites at control. Within the Baptist denomination, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African Americans established separate associations.

During the conservative resurgence, the Southern Baptist Convention of 1995 voted to adopt a resolution renouncing its racist roots and apologizing for its past defense of slavery.[18][19] The resolution repenting racism marked the denomination's first formal acknowledgment that racism played a role in its early history. By the early 21st century there were increasing numbers of ethnically diverse congregations within the convention. In 2008, almost 20 percent were estimated to be majority African-American, Asian or Hispanic and there were an estimated one million African-American members.[20]

Historical controversies

During its history, the Southern Baptist Convention has had several periods of major internal controversy. The denomination's lack of a hierarchical form of government (polity) lends itself toward public displays of disagreement.

  • Landmarkism which led to the formation of Gospel Missions and the American Baptist Association as well as many unaffiliated independent churches.
  • The "Whitsitt controversy" (1896–1899),[21] in which Dr. William H. Whitsitt, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, set forth his theory that the English Baptists did not begin to baptize by immersion until 1641, when a part of the Anabaptists, as they were then called, began to practice immersion.
  • The Southern Baptist Convention conservative resurgence of 1979 was a major internal disagreement that captured national attention.[22] Russell H. Dilday, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1978 to 1994, described the resurgence/takeover as having fragmented Southern Baptist fellowship and as being "far more serious than a controversy."[23] Dilday described it as being "a self-destructive, contentious, one-sided feud that at times took on combative characteristics." After 1979, Southern Baptists have become polarized into two major groups—moderates and conservatives. All leaders of Southern Baptist agencies were replaced with presumably more conservative (often dubbed "fundamentalist" by dissenters) to reflect the manner in which the majority of messengers (delegates) to the annual meeting of the SBC voted.[24]


The SBC has grown from its regional, sectionalist roots to a major force in American and international Christianity. There are Southern Baptist congregations in every state and territory in the United States, though the greatest numbers remain in the Southern United States, its traditional stronghold.

President George W. Bush meets with the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention in the Oval Office at the White House. Pictured with the President are Dr. Morris Chapman, left, Dr. Frank Page and his wife Dayle Page.

The national scope of the Convention inspired some members to suggest a name change. In 2005, proposals were made at the SBC Annual Meeting to change the name from the regional-sounding '"Southern Baptist Convention"' to a more national-sounding "North American Baptist Convention" or "Scriptural Baptist Convention" (to retain the SBC initials). The proposals were defeated.[25]

Theology and practice

The general theological perspective of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention is represented in the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M).[26] The BF&M was first drafted in 1925. It was revised significantly in 1963 and again in 2000, with the latter revision being the subject of much controversy. The BF&M is not considered to be a creed, such as the Nicene Creed. Members are not required to adhere to it. Churches belonging to the SBC are not required to use it as their statement of faith or doctrine, though many do in lieu of creating their own statement. Despite the fact that the BF&M is not a creed, faculty in SBC-owned seminaries and missionaries who apply to serve through the various SBC missionary agencies must affirm that their practices, doctrine, and preaching are consistent with the BF&M.

  • Autonomy of local church—We affirm the autonomy of the local church.[27]
  • Church and state—a free church in a free state. Neither one should control the affairs of the other.[28]
  • Cooperation—The Cooperative Program of missions is integral to the Southern Baptist Convention.[29]
  • Creeds and confessions—Statements of belief are revisable in light of Scripture. The Bible is the final word.[30]
  • Missions—We honor the indigenous principle in missions. We cannot, however, compromise doctrine or give up who we are to win the favor of those we try to reach or those with whom we desire to work.[31]
  • Priesthood of all believers—Laypersons have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, interpret Scripture, and minister in Christ's name[32]
  • Sanctity of life—At the moment of conception, a new being enters the universe, a human being, a being created in God's image.[33]
  • Sexuality—We affirm God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy—one man and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a valid alternative lifestyle.[34]
  • Soul competency—the accountability of each person before God[35]
  • Women in ministry—Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers except in the role of wife and also the role of pastor. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. The role of pastor, however, is specifically reserved for men.[36]


Southern Baptists observe two ordinances: the Lord's Supper and Believer's baptism.[26] The denomination makes a theological distinction between their ordinances and the more familiar term sacraments since the latter implies a connection to one's salvation.

Lord's Supper

Southern Baptists observe the Lord's Supper with no established frequency. Each local church decides whether it is to be observed monthly, quarterly, etc. Churches tend to use small individual glasses instead of a common cup. Non-alcoholic grape juice is most often served instead of wine. Both leavened and unleavened bread may be served but the unleavened variety is served most frequently.


Southern Baptists practice Believer's baptism, also known as credo-baptism (Latin for "I believe"). Candidates for baptism must profess belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Southern Baptists maintain the historic Baptist practice of administering baptism only to persons who have reached the "age of accountability",[37] and who have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They hold to the historic Baptist belief that immersion is the only valid mode of baptism. Candidates for membership in an SBC church must already be or become baptized believers. Some SBC congregations will accept previous baptisms by immersion from other denominations that they consider of "like faith and order" as being valid, provided that they were performed after the individual accepted Christ for salvation.

Gender-based roles

Beginning in the early 1970s and operating in reaction to the perceived agenda of various “women’s liberation movements”,[38] the Southern Baptist Convention, along with several other historically conservative Baptist groups,[39][40] began corporately asserting the propriety of what it deemed "traditional gender roles". Specifically, the SBC passed a series of resolutions at its annual meetings affirming a complementarian view of marriage and a patriarchal view of ordained Christian ministry.[41] In 1998, the complementarian understanding of marriage was appended to the 1963 version of the Baptist Faith and Message by means of an official amendment as Article XVIII, The Family, and in the 2000 revision of this same document support for a male-only pastorate, the long-standing practice of the very great majority of SBC churches,[42] was integrated into Article VI on the nature of the church.[43]

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to his people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Article XVIII. The Family.

While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

Article VI. The Church.

As individual churches affiliated with the SBC are autonomous, local congregations cannot be compelled to adopt a male-only pastorate. (The SBC contains no mechanism to trigger the automatic expulsion of congregations that adopt practices or theology contrary to the BF&M.) However, some SBC churches that have installed women as their pastors have been excluded from membership in their local associations of Baptist churches, and a smaller number have been expelled from their state conventions.[44]

This movement towards an ever increasingly official ban on women in the pastorate proved to be one of the most obvious issues in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's (CBF) decision to break from the SBC.[45]

Worship services

Most Southern Baptists observe a low church form of worship that is less formal and uses no stated liturgy. Worship services usually include: hymns; prayer; choral music by a choir, soloist, or both; the reading of Scripture; the collection of offerings; a sermon; and an invitation to respond to the sermon. Recently, many churches have incorporated various instruments and styles of music into their worship services (see contemporary worship). People may respond during the invitation by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and begin Christian discipleship, to enter into vocational ministry, to join the church, or make some other public decision.



The SBC claims to have more than 16.6 million members in 44,000 churches throughout the US. One internal study by the SBC shows that on average 38 percent of the membership (6,138,776 members, guests and non-member children) attend their churches' primary worship services.[46] Southern Baptists do not track church attendance by numbers in the primary worship service; they track attendance through participation in Sunday School where 4,154,270 Convention members (less than 26 percent of SBC total membership) attend.[47] Additionally, Sunday School enrollment in the United States decreased by 123,817 members between 2007 and 2008.[48]

Year Membership
1845 350,000
1860 650,000
1875 1,260,000
1890 1,240,000
1905 1,900,000
1920 3,150,000
1935 4,480,000
1950 7,080,000
1965 10,780,000
1980 13,700,000
1995 15,400,000
2000 15,900,000
2005 16,600,000
2006 16,306,246
2007 16,266,920

The SBC has 1,200 local associations and 41 state conventions and fellowships covering all 50 states and territories of the United States. The five states with the highest rates of membership in the SBC are Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee.[51] Texas has the largest number of members, with an estimated 3.5 million. Through their Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists support thousands of missionaries in the United States and worldwide. Although the SBC fielded over 10,000 missionaries in 2005, budget constraints are expected to reduce the number of missionaries by at least 600 in 2010.[52]


Data from church sources and independent surveys indicate that since 1990 membership of SBC churches has declined as a proportion of the American population.[53] Historically, the Convention grew throughout its history until 2007 when membership decreased by a net figure of nearly 40,000 members.[54] Total membership of about 16.2 million was flat over the same period, falling by 38,482, or 0.2 percent. An important indicator for the health of the denomination is new baptisms which have decreased every year for seven of the last eight years, and as of 2008 have reached their lowest levels since 1987.[55]

This decline in membership and baptisms has prompted some SBC researchers to describe the Convention as a "denomination in decline".[56] Former SBC president Frank Page declared that if current conditions continue half of all SBC churches will close their doors permanently by the year 2030.[57] This assessment is supported by a recent survey of SBC churches which indicated that 70% of all SBC churches are declining or are plateaued with regards to their membership.[58] The decline of the SBC became an issue leading up to the June 2008 Annual Convention.[59] Former SBC researcher, Curt Watke noted four reasons for the decline of the Southern Baptist Convention based on his research: increase in immigration, decline in growth among predominantly Anglo (white) churches, the aging of the current membership, and a decrease in the percentage of younger generations participating in church life.[57] A failure to aggressively attract minorities also has been seen as a factor hurting Southern Baptist recruitment numbers.[60]

The actual decline in SBC membership may be more pronounced than these statistics indicate because Baptist churches, unlike United Methodist, Presbyterian and Evangelical Lutheran congregations, are not required to remove inactive members from their rolls. In addition, hundreds of large moderate congregations have shifted their primary allegiance to other Baptist groups such as the American Baptist Churches USA or the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, but have continued to remain nominally on the books of the Convention—and their members are thus counted in the SBC's totals—although these churches no longer participate in the annual SBC meeting or make more than the minimum financial contributions.[61]


As is true of most Baptists, Southern Baptists' typical form of government is congregationalist: each local church is autonomous without formal lines of responsibility to organizational levels of higher authority.

Baptist churches believe strongly in the autonomy of the local church. The Convention is therefore conceived as a cooperative association by which churches can pool resources rather than as a body with any administrative or ecclesiastical control over local churches. It maintains a central administrative organization in Nashville, Tennessee. The Executive Committee, as it is called, exercises authority and control over seminaries and other institutions owned by the Southern Baptist Convention. However, the Executive Committee has no authority over its affiliated state conventions, local associations, individual churches or members.

Commitment to the autonomy of local congregations was the primary force behind the Executive Committee's rejection of a proposal to create a convention-wide database of SBC clergy accused of sexual crimes against congregants or other minors[62] in order to stop the "recurring tide" [63] of clergy sexual abuse within SBC congregations. A 2009 study by Lifeway Christian Resources, the convention's research and publishing arm, revealed that 1 in 8 background checks for potential volunteers or workers in SBC churches revealed a history of crime that could have prevented them from working.[64]

The Convention's confession of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message,[26] technically is not binding on churches or members due to the autonomy of the local church. Politically and culturally, Southern Baptists tend to be conservative. Most oppose the use of alcohol as a beverage, homosexual activity and abortion with few exceptions.[4]

There are four levels of SBC organization: the local congregation, the local association, the state convention, and the national convention.

Pastor and deacon

Generally, Baptists recognize only two scriptural offices: pastor-teacher and deacon. According to the Baptist Faith and Message, the office of pastor is limited to men based on certain New Testament scriptures.[65] The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution in the early 1980s recognizing that offices requiring ordination (pastor and deacon) are restricted to men.[66]

Deacons of each church are elected by the congregation. In some congregations, deacons function much like a board of directors or an executive committee authorized to make important decisions. Such congregations typically retain the right to vote on major decisions, such as purchasing or selling property, large spending, and the hiring or firing of pastors and other paid ministers.

In recent decades, some SBC congregations have shifted the role of deacons to less governance and more ministering and nurturing responsibilities. One such model is the Deacon Family Ministry Plan. In this model, the number of families in a local church is divided roughly among the active deacons. Each deacon is assigned responsibility for providing pastoral care and other spiritual guidance and assistance for the families assigned.[67][68][69]

Local congregation

Each congregation is independent and autonomous. Thus, each local congregation is free to:

  • Associate with or disassociate from the SBC (and/or any of its affiliates) at any time
  • Determine the level of support which it provides to SBC-affiliated programs and/or other groups, though in order to affiliate with a local association or a state or the national convention some minimum level of giving is required
  • Conduct its own internal affairs, such as hiring and firing, determining its doctrinal statement and membership qualifications, order and format of services, and other matters, without approval from any higher level entity

An exception to the above are certain smaller congregations called mission churches. Mission churches are sponsored by one or more larger congregations or by Baptist associations. The ordinary goal is for each mission church to become self-supporting and thus become an independent and autonomous church. A mission church is often created to reach a particular demographic group, such as residents of a new real estate development, a particular ethnic group, or young families.

Local association

Most individual congregations choose to affiliate with Baptist associations which are generally organized within certain defined geographic areas within a state, such as a county. The prior general rule was that only one association existed in a specific geographical area, did not cross state lines (unless a state convention consisted of multiple states), and did not accept churches from outside that area. For many years, particularly within metropolitan areas, numerous associations have existed within the same county. While some believe the conservative takeover of the SBC in the 1980s served as a catalyst to multiple associations, the paradigm in the SBC had existed prior to 1980.

The primary goal of many associations is evangelism and church planting (i.e., assisting churches in starting mission churches). Even with related ministries, such as food pantries or crisis pregnancy centers, associational volunteers and staff who conduct the ministries often share an evangelistic message along with material and practical assistance.

An association cannot direct the affairs of member churches but can set requirements for continued fellowship. For example, an association may initiate the "dis-fellowshipping" (expulsion) from the association of any church with which the association disagrees, generally in areas of contentious practice or doctrine, such as: charismatic doctrine; a local church's ordination of women or sanctioning homosexuality (such as through ordination or blessing of same-sex unions); or acceptance of "alien immersion" (baptism with a method, such as sprinkling, not consistent with the typical Baptist requirement of immersion).

Association meetings are generally held annually. The association is free to set the time and place, as well as determining the number of messengers, or delegates, each church may send. Each church is allowed a minimum number; the general practice—at the association level and at the higher levels as well—is that larger churches that provide more financial support are allowed more messengers.

State conventions

Individual congregations and associations may choose to affiliate into state conventions. With the exception of Texas and Virginia, which have two conventions, each state has only one convention. Some smaller states, in terms of number of SBC congregations, are affiliated into a larger multi-state convention.

As with associations, the primary goal is evangelism and church planting. The state conventions support educational institutions, often institutions of higher education, and may support retirement and children's homes. As with associations, the state convention cannot direct individual church affairs but can set requirements for affiliation. It can also disfellowship churches at its discretion. The state convention generally meets annually, sets the time and place, and determines the number of messengers allowed per church.

State conventions associated with the SBC include:[70]

Additional supported and affiliated conventions:

Annual Meeting

The Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting consists of messengers from cooperating churches. In the month of June, they gather to confer and determine the programs, policies, and budget of the SBC. Each church may be represented by up to 10 messengers, the exact number being determined by the church's number of members and contributions to the national SBC organization.[71]

The following quotation from the SBC Constitution explains the membership and description of messengers to each annual meeting:

Article III. Membership: The Convention shall consist of messengers who are members of missionary Baptist churches cooperating with the Convention as follows:

  1. One messenger from each church which (1) Is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work. Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior; and (2) Has been a bona fide contributor to the Convention's work during the fiscal year preceding.
  2. One additional messenger from each such church for every two hundred and fifty members; or for each $250.00 paid to the work of the Convention during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting.
  3. The messengers shall be appointed and certified by the churches to the Convention, but no church may appoint more than ten.
  4. Each messenger shall be a member of the church by which he is appointed.
Article IV. Authority: While independent and sovereign in its own sphere, the Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, associations, or convention.

SBC Constitution[72]

Missions and affiliated organizations

Cooperative Program

The Cooperative Program (CP) is the SBC's unified funds collection and distribution program for the support of regional, national and international ministries of the entire denomination. The CP is funded by the voluntary gifts of approximately 43,000 SBC congregations.

In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, the local congregations of the SBC reported gift receipts of $11.1 billion. From this they sent $548 million, approximately 5 per cent, to their state Baptist conventions through the CP. Of this amount, the state Baptist conventions retained $344 million for their work. $204 million was sent on to the national CP budget for the support of denomination-wide ministries.

Missions agencies

The Southern Baptist Convention was organized in 1845 primarily for the purpose of creating a mission board to support the sending of Baptist missionaries. The North American Mission Board, or NAMB, (founded as the Domestic Mission Board, and later the Home Mission Board) in Alpharetta, Georgia serves missionaries involved in evangelism and church planting in the U.S. and Canada, while the International Mission Board, or IMB, (originally the Foreign Mission Board) in Richmond, Virginia sponsors missionaries to the rest of the world.

Among the more visible organizations within the North American Mission Board is Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. In 1967, a small group of Texas Southern Baptist volunteers helped victims of Hurricane Beulah by serving hot food cooked on small "buddy burners." In 2005, volunteers responded to 166 named disasters, prepared 17,124,738 meals, repaired 7,246 homes, and removed debris from 13,986 yards.[citation needed] Southern Baptist Disaster Relief provides many different types: food, water, child care, communication, showers, laundry, repairs, rebuilding, or other essential tangible items that contribute to the resumption of life following the crisis – and the message of the Gospel. All assistance is provided to individuals and communities free of charge. SBC DR volunteer kitchens provide more than 80% of the food distributed by the Red Cross in major disasters.[citation needed]

Seminaries and colleges

There are six SBC theological seminaries devoted to religious instruction and ministry preparation.

There are multiple Baptist universities and colleges throughout the United states. See Southern Baptist-related Schools, Colleges, and Universities for further information.

Other organizations

  • Baptist Men on Mission, formally known as Brotherhood, BMEN is the mission organization for men in Southern Baptist Churches.
  • Baptist Press, the largest Christian news service in the country, was established by the SBC in 1946.
  • Guidestone Financial Resources (formerly called the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and founded in 1918 as the Relief Board of the Southern Baptist Convention) exists to provide insurance, retirement, and investment services to ministers and employees of Southern Baptist churches and agencies. It underwent a severe financial crisis in the 1930s.
  • LifeWay Christian Resources, founded as the Baptist Sunday School Board in 1891, which is one of the largest Christian publishing houses in America and operates the "LifeWay Christian Stores" chain of bookstores.
  • Woman's Missionary Union, founded in 1888, is an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention, and helps facilitate two large annual missions offerings: the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
  • Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention that is dedicated to addressing social and moral concerns and their implications on public policy issues from City Hall to Congress. Its mission is "To awaken, inform, energize, equip, and mobilize Christians to be the catalysts for the Biblically-based transformation of their families, churches, communities, and the nation." The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission was formerly known as the Christian Life Commission of the SBC.

Notable members

This list does not assume that all are active in the SBC or living their lives according to Southern Baptist principles. The following well-known individuals identified themselves as Southern Baptists at some time:



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  6. ^ Raboteau, Albert J., Slave Religion: The "invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South, New York: Oxford University Press, 2004 (25th anniversary edition), ISBN 0-19-517413-5
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  9. ^ Christine Leigh Heyrman, Southern Cross: The Beginning of the Bible Belt, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998, pp.10-18, 155
  10. ^ The origins of the Southern Baptist Convention: a historiographical
  11. ^ The Baptist Encyclopedia. Edited by William Cathcart. 2 Vols. Rev. ed. Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1883. Accessible online: Accessed 04–25–2007.
  12. ^ Organized in 1832
  13. ^ See
  14. ^ McBeth, H. Leon. The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness. Nashville: Broadman, 1987.
  15. ^ Baker, Robert A. "Southern Baptist Beginnings." Baptist History and Heritage Society.
  16. ^ First Baptist Church building landmark restoration
  17. ^ The American Baptist Convention and the Civil Rights Movement: Rhetoric and Response, Dana Martin, 1999, page 44.
  18. ^
  19. ^ This Side of Heaven: Race, Ethnicity, and Christian Faith. Edited by Robert J. Priest and Alvaro L. Nieves. Oxford University Press, 2007, pp 275 and 339
  20. ^ Salmon, Jacqueline L. "Southern Baptists Diversifying to Survive: Minority Outreach Seen as Key to Crisis" Washington Post Feb. 16, 2008
  21. ^ History of Kentucky Baptists — 1770-1922
  22. ^ Flick, David. "How Fundamentalist Myths Changed the SBC." Onine: Accessed July 2, 2007
  23. ^ Dilday, Russell. Higher Ground: A Call for Christian Civility. Macon, Georgia: Smyth and Helwys, 2007. ISBN 1–57312–469–9.
  24. ^ Humphreys, Fisher. The Way We Were: How Southern Baptist Theology Has Changed and What It Means to Us All. Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys, 2002. ISBN 1–57312–376–5
  25. ^ Southern Baptist Convention Tuesday Evening June 15, 1999
  26. ^ a b c Comparison of 1925, 1963, 2000 versions
  27. ^ Autonomy of local church
  28. ^ Church and state
  29. ^ Cooperation
  30. ^ Soul competency
  31. ^ Missions
  32. ^ Priesthood of all believers
  33. ^ Sanctity of life
  34. ^ Sexuality
  35. ^ SBC Position Statements—Soul Competency
  36. ^ Women in ministry
  37. ^ Age of Accountability: the age at which a child is old enough to understand the moral consequences of his or her actions and can be held accountable for sins.
  38. ^
  39. ^ Aldon D. Morris and Shayne Lee. "The National Baptist Convention: Traditions and Contemporary Challenges." Available online: Northwestern University Website. Accessed 07–19–2007. Pages 27-38 contain a discussion of long-standing attitudes regarding gender and their relationship to ministry.
  40. ^ "Baptist General Convention position statement on The Family Unit—Adopted 1973." Available online: Baptist General Convention Website. Accessed 07–19–2007.
  41. ^ A search of past SBC resolutions reveals that Conventions meeting in 1973, 1980, 1981, and 1984 passed resolutions which affirmed a complementarian view of marriage, a patriarchal view of ordained ministry, or both. Available online:, , , and Southern Baptist Convention Website. Accessed 07–31–2009.
  42. ^ Tammi Reed Ledbetter. "SBC and Women Pastors, Comprehensive Report Does Not Sustain Inflated Statistics (October 2000)." Available online: Baptist 2 Baptist Website. Accessed 07-19-07
  43. ^
  44. ^ Campbell, Kristen. "Baptist Church Ousted for Hiring Woman Pastor." Religion News Service. Available online: Accessed 09-26-2007
  45. ^ Campbell-Reed, Eileen R. and Pamela R. Durso. "Assessing Attitudes About Women in Baptist Life (2006)." Available online: Baptist Women in Ministry Website. Accessed 07-18-2007
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ Historical Statistics of the U.S. (1976) series H805 (with 2005 estimate from Convention figures).
  50. ^ Southern Baptist numbers, baptisms drop |
  51. ^ Data from the 2000 Religious Congregations and Membership Study
  52. ^ [1]
  53. ^{CDA250E8–8866–4236–9A0C-C646DE153446}/RCS_Comparison_1990_2000.pdf
  54. ^
  55. ^,1703,A%3D167523&M%3D201280,00.html
  56. ^
  57. ^ a b
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^ Lovan, Dylan T. "Southern Baptists to gather in Kentucky." The Associated Press, June 19, 2009
  61. ^ McMullen, Cary (17 June), "Any way you count it, fewer Southern Baptists", Paltka Daily News,, retrieved 2009-08-31 
  62. ^ [2]
  63. ^ [3]
  64. ^
  65. ^ 1 Timothy 2:11-14, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, and Titus 1:6-9
  66. ^ " Can women be pastors or deacons in the SBC?" FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions.
  67. ^ Emerging models of deacon ministry
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^ Complete Listing of SBC aligned State Conventions
  71. ^ "Becoming A Church Messenger."
  72. ^ About Us—SBC Constitution
  73. ^ Baptist Press
  74. ^
  75. ^
  76. ^ Bill Clinton's sermon on being a good Christian without being a republican—
  77. ^ "Carter & Clinton call for 'New Baptist Covenant.'" Baptist Press," January 10, 2007.
  78. ^ New Baptist Covenant Celebration—News

Further reading

  • Ammerman, Nancy, Baptist Battles: Social Change and Religious Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention. Rutgers University Press, 1990.
  • Ammerman, Nancy, ed. Southern Baptists Observed University of Tennessee Press, 1993.
  • Baker, Robert. ed. A Baptist Source Book. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1966.
  • Baker, Robert. The Southern Baptist Convention and Its People, 1607–1972. Broadman Press, 1974.
  • Barnes, William. The Southern Baptist Convention, 1845–1953 Broadman Press, 1954.
  • Eighmy, John. Churches in Cultural Captivity: A History of the Social Attitudes of Southern Baptists. University of Tennessee Press, 1972.
  • Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists: Presenting Their History, Doctrine, Polity, Life, Leadership, Organization & Work Knoxville: Broadman Press, v 1–2 (1958), 1500 pp; 2 supplementary volumes 1958 and 1962; vol 5 = Index, 1984
  • Farnsley II, Arthur Emery, Southern Baptist Politics: Authority and Power in the Restructuring of an American Denomination; Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994
  • Fuller, A. James. Chaplain to the Confederacy: Basil Manly and Baptist Life in the Old South (2002)
  • Gatewood, Willard. Controversy in the 1920s: Fundamentalism, Modernism, and Evolution. Vanderbilt University Press, 1969.
  • Hankins, Barry. Religion and American Culture. Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, 2002. Argues that Baptist conservatives see themselves as cultural warriors critiquing a secular and liberal America
  • Harvey, Paul. Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities among Southern Baptists, 1865–1925. University of North Carolina Press, 1997
  • Hill, Samuel, et al. Encyclopedia of Religion in the South (2005)
  • Kell, Carl L. and L. Raymond Camp, In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention. Southern Illinois University Press, 1999
  • Leonard, Bill J. God's Last and Only Hope: The Fragmentation of the Southern Baptist Convention. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990.
  • Lumpkin, William L. Baptist History in the South: Tracing through the Separates the Influence of the Great Awakening, 1754–1787 (1995)
  • Marsden, George. Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of 20th Century Evangelicalism. Oxford University Press, 1980.
  • Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States, 2000. Glenmary Research Center
  • Rosenberg, Ellen. The Southern Baptists: A Subculture in Transition. University of Tennessee Press, 1989.
  • Scales, T. Laine. All That Fits a Woman: Training Southern Baptist Women for Charity and Mission, 1907–1926 Mercer U. Press 2002
  • Smith, Oran P. The Rise of Baptist Republicanism (1997), on recent voting behavior
  • Spain, Rufus B. At Ease in Zion: A Social History of Southern Baptists, 1865–1900 (1961)
  • Sutton, Jerry. The Baptist Reformation: The Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention (2000).
  • Wills, Gregory A. Democratic Religion: Freedom, Authority, and Church Discipline in the Baptist South, 1785–1900. Oxford University Press, 1997
  • Yarnell III, Malcolm B. The Formation of Christian Doctrine (2007), on Baptist theology

External links

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