Motion to amend BF&M passes, task forces approved 

Alabama pastor Jared Cornutt makes a motion to amend the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 to include the words “elder” and “overseer” as synonyms of the word “pastor.”  (Photo by Sonya Singh)  

 Editor’s Note: This article was written by Erin Roach. The full article with motions not approved can be read at

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Messengers voted to amend the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the statement of faith of the Southern Baptist Convention, to clarify the role of pastor Wednesday, June 14, at the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans. 

The convention also approved the appointment of a task force to study the impact of the Great Commission Resurgence recommendations adopted in 2009 and a task force to study how the Convention should regard churches “in friendly cooperation.” 

BF&M revision 

Messengers approved a motion by Jared Cornutt, pastor of North Shelby Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., to amend Article 6 of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 to add elder/overseer alongside pastor. 

The amended article on the church now reads: “In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its two scriptural offices are that of pastor/elder/overseer and deacon. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor/elder/overseer is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” 

“We should never take lightly the prospect of amending our statement of faith,” Cornutt said. “The document has existed for almost 100 years, and it serves as the backbone of our doctrinal unity. … I believe that we have unintentionally found ourselves with a lack of clarity that can be remedied by a small and non-substantive change.” 

GCR impact study 

Messengers approved a motion by Randy Chestnut of Woodland Hills Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, to authorize the president to appoint a task force to study the impact that the recommendations from the Great Commission Resurgence Report adopted in 2009 have had on the effectiveness of the SBC’s North American Gospel effort and on relationships between SBC ministry partners. 

Chestnut’s motion said the task force “should represent all SBC partners serving from all regions of North America” and that the task force report should include “any recommendations to enhance and unify our cooperative missions effort to penetrate darkness in North America.” 

Cooperation study 

Messengers approved a motion by James Merritt, a former SBC president and pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., to authorize the president to appoint a “broadly representative task force” to study how the Convention should deem churches to be “in friendly cooperation on questions of faith and practice” as written in Article 3 of the SBC Constitution, referring to the statement of faith. 

The task force should bring recommendations to the next annual meeting “for how we can move forward together in biblical fidelity, missional clarity, and cooperative unity.” 

Standing with Merritt as he made the motion were former SBC Presidents Ed Litton, J.D. Greear, Steve Gaines and Bryant Wright. 

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