The Name Change Task Force appointed by SBC President Bryan Wright to bring recommendations to the Executive Committee of the SBC has recommended that the convention name remain The Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. James Draper, Chairman of the Name Change Task force, made the following statement in his opening remarks, “Southern Baptist Convention is a worldwide brand that identifies who we are but not what we do. SBC is a name respected worldwide.” Draper went on to say, “We wanted to bring something to you that would keep us from having to do this every four or five years.” He noted that 585 names were recommended to the committee. The task forced concluded, “The potential benefits of a name change do not outweigh the risks of a name change.” Draper and the task force did recommend that the convention adopt an informal, non-legal name to be used along with the SBC.
Task force member Dr. Ken Fentress, pastor of Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Md. and former Old Testament Professor and Dean at SBTS, spoke on the recommendation and said, “We do not deny the history behind our name, but what binds us together is theology, not mere history.” He continued, “”Parts of our history are painful and shameful, but not our theology.” Dr. Paige Patterson rose to speak and stated, “I have been convinced that for years the SBC needed to change its name.” Following Dr. Patterson’s remarks, he endorsed the recommendation that Dr. Draper would be bringing to the committee, which was a recommendation to keep SBC as a legal name and approve “Great Commission Baptists” as an informal name/tag line.
While there are good reasons to both change the name and keep the name, “The Southern Baptist Convention,” it does seem clear that changing the name may not be the most responsible move to make. However, while it is clear that “Great Commission Baptists” should certainly define what we as Southern Baptists need to be doing, it is not so clear that we ought to adopt it as a “tag line” or “nickname”. In the long run, if approved, this move will no doubt accomplish one of three things. The tag line or co-branded name will take hold and perhaps eventually replace the convention’s name altogether and the interim hopefully improve the reach and influence of the convention publicly. It could simply fade away and the SBC name will continue to be used or it could remain as it is being presented today, a tag line or co-branded name.
What will be equally interesting to watch in the days to come will be any attempts made by anyone trying to associate themselves with this “new name” to in effect co-brand their particular theological ideology along with that of the “new” SBC. Only time will tell what kind of impact this move will have on the SBC and its future as a convention as well as its impact in the world.