Following the release of Russell Moore's letters which revealed the serious issues inside the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the denomination is scheduled to have a two-day annual meeting starting June 15 at the Music City Center in Nashville.
The SBC will seek to elect a new president through its more than 16,000 voting delegates who registered to join the event. The selection of the convention's new leader and its position on serious issues will set its direction, as well as people's decision to remain as members of the denomination, the Houston Chronicle reported.
In the meeting, the convention is expected to tackle the argument over women's leadership and Moore's revelations in his leaked letter, accusing the SBC of sexual abuse and racial reconciliation issues.
Mike Stone, one of the candidates for SBC presidency, opposed Moore's accountability efforts, saying that it is not appropriate for the convention's current set up.
"The Southern Baptist Convention was not, and to a large degree is still not, set up today to do the kinds of things that Russell Moore wanted to see us doing," Stone said.
Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd announced that the panel will investigate Moore's allegations but some pastors expressed their distrust over the committee and called for an independent task force to look into the matter instead.
The SBC will also have to address racism in the denomination. Stone opposes the Critical Race Theory (CRT) and some pastors are reportedly leaving the SBC over its insensitivity on racial issues and white leadership.
Further, the SBC will discuss women's role in the ministry, following Beth Moore's departure from the convention in March. The denomination does not allow women to lead in the church, especially as pastors. But in May, the Saddleback Church defied this rule and ordained its first women ministers.
Al Mohler, also running as SBC president, supports the victims of sexual abuse but endorsed Donald Trump last year which angered some members of the convention. In addition, through his statement as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Mohler criticized the CRT.
Alabama pastor Ed Litton is also a nominee, supported by Fred Luter. Both acknowledged the issue on systemic racial injustice.
But Ed Stetzer, an executive director at Wheaton College, observed that evangelicals want their congregations to address the issues they hear from the news though those are not "major" issues in the church.
"One of the things that is happening is that many conservative evangelicals want their denomination and church to line up to what they are hearing on cable news. So if they hear that critical race theory is a huge problem in the culture, they want it dealt with in the church, even though it's not a major issue there," Stetzer said.
The current controversies in the convention have driven the huge number of registrants. One pastor said that he will be bringing more of his church members to the meeting than usual "to dig deeper" on the issues of the SBC.