Organizers say thousands of Baptists have joined a new group that seeks to address questions about race, social justice and gender issues in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
The Conservative Baptist Network launched Feb. 14 with a website and press release. Brad Jurkovich, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bossier City, Louisiana, and spokesperson for the group, told podcast host Janet Mefferd on Feb. 18 that more than 3,000 people had joined the network during the weekend following its launch.
Jurkovich said supporters of the Conservative Baptist Network want the Southern Baptist Convention to be “healthy and strong,” but they are concerned the denomination is “starting to go down a road many are not comfortable with.”
In its press release, the network said “a significant number of Southern Baptists are concerned about the apparent emphasis on social justice, critical race theory, intersectionality and the redefining of biblical gender roles.”
Another issue on the minds of pastors is patriotism, Jurkovich said: “As Southern Baptists can we not love both Jesus and America? Is it no longer okay to be a pastor and a patriot?”
The network will help pastors and churches “navigate the waters” of patriotism, religious liberty and freedom of conscience, he told Mefferd.
Jurkovich is the only person publicly identified as part of the group’s leadership, though the website features videos of support by Chuck Kelley, president emeritus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and several leaders of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tennessee.
The network announced a formal launch event June 8, the evening before the opening session of the 2020 SBC Annual Meeting in Orlando. Between now and June, the network will offer resources, he said, such as articles to help churches.