Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention are steadily removing the “Southern” part of the group’s name in an effort that Convention President J.D. Greear said is essential following a summer of Black Lives Matter protests and increased calls for racial justice reform.
In an interview with The Washington Post published Tuesday, Greear said there has been more support to adopt the new name “Great Commission Baptists,” both because of the changing climate in the U.S. and because many have long believed the “Southern Baptist” title no longer adequately encompasses the approximately 50,000 churches that now exist around the globe.
“Our Lord Jesus was not a White Southerner but a brown-skinned Middle Eastern refugee,” Greear told the Post. “Every week we gather to worship a savior who died for the whole world, not one part of it. What we call ourselves should make that clear.”
These statements come after the leader also announced in June that he would be retiring a historic gavel named for a slaveholder that Southern Baptists had continued to use to open their meetings.
“While we do not want to, nor could we, erase our history, it is time for this gavel to go back into the display case at the Executive Committee offices,” Greear said in a statement at the time.
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