The nation's largest Protestant denomination may be voting at its annual meeting next June on whether to change its name. Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright has set up a task force to research changing the 166-year-old denomination's name as part of a rebranding effort.
Wright, who was re-elected to a second one-year term during the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix in June, announced the task force during the SBC Executive Committee meeting in September in Nashville, Tenn, where the church's headquarters are located. He noted in a September news article in the Baptist Press that “the convention's name is so regional.” For most of its history, Southerners have dominated the convention. Now, more are in places such as Chicago or overseas, where the convention has thousands of missionaries.
Numerous motions to study a name change for the 16 million-member SBC have been presented to the convention in the past. More recently, a motion at the 2004 annual meeting to authorize the SBC president to appoint a committee to study a name change was defeated on a ballot vote.
“Obviously, this is not an official committee empowered by a vote of messengers [delegates] to an SBC annual meeting,” Wright said in the Baptist Press news report. “It is a task force I am asking to advise me as president on whether this is a matter we should bring forward for convention action.” Any proposed name change would have to be approved by a majority of messengers at two consecutive SBC annual meetings, according to the convention's constitution.