After more than 160 years and more than 16 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention is considering a name change, and it’s sparking more than a little debate. The Christian Post reported that SBC president Bryan Wright on Monday proposed a name-change task force to the executive committee of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, resulting in—as Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president R. Albert Mohler put it—”vigorous and emotional discussion.”
Wright said the denomination’s current name seems “so regional” and creates barriers in church planting and evangelistic efforts. He said he will ask the task force to consider whether a name change is appropriate, what name they might suggest, and the legal and financial considerations of such a change. Wright plans to offer an interim report on the task force’s work in February to the committee, with a final report presented in June.
According to the Associated Baptist Press, the SBC has considered and rejected a name change eight times since 1965. Resistance came from both traditional and practical areas, such as the effort and cost needed to change legal documents, signs, and the identity of thousands of churches.