Southern Baptist Convention Will Not Change Name

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After some consideration, the Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest Protestant denomination has decided not to change its name.

After months of debate, a task force recommended the denomination stay with its current name but allow individual churches to use the title "Great Commission Baptists."

SBC President Rev. Bryant Wright, an Atlanta pastor, said Southern Baptists have been talking about changing their name for more than 100 years. He said he hopes the new alternative would put this issue to rest.

"It was really just to have an opportunity to study this and to see if it would enhance our mission of fulfilling the Great Commission," he said.

Rev. Ken Fentress, with Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Md., spoke in favor of the alternative name at the task's force recent meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

He said the Southern Baptist name still has negative connotations for many African-Americans.

The denomination has more than 16 million members. However, there has been a decline in baptisms, church attendance, and membership recently.

Jimmy Draper, former president of LifeWay Christian Resources, led the name-change task force.

He explained the Southern Baptist brand has worldwide name recognition for its mission work, its theology, and its disaster relief work after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

"The convention was founded in 1845 in Georgia by an act of that state's legislature. That gave the denomination legal protection that it could not get today," Draper said.

"We felt that the benefits of changing the name legally were just not worth the risk," he said.

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