SBC President Fred Luter was at the February 18-19 Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, where he preached to the EC members and guests. While he was in the SBC building, SBC LIFE talked with him about the theme he has chosen for this year’s SBC annual meeting in Houston, Texas.
SBCLIFE: You have selected the theme for this year’s SBC annual meeting, “Revive Us . . . That We May Be One.” What drew you to this theme? What do you hope to see as an outcome of the annual meeting?
Luter: As I travel across the country and look at what’s going on in America, what’s going on in our society, even in our churches, I think America is primed for revival. It’s time that the people of God understand the great need for revival in America. If it’s going to happen with us though, the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention must come together as one. So that’s what drew me to this theme: there’s a desperate need for revival in our nation and, if it’s going to happen, our churches have to come together as one.
SBCLIFE: You chose Jesus’ words in John 13:34-35 as your theme verse: I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. What drew you to this verse and what do you hope to see through use of this verse at the annual meeting and beyond?
Luter: First of all, Jesus said it. Whatever Jesus said is all right with me!
But again, I just see that if revival is going to happen, it has to happen with the body of Christ. Particularly, in this instance, pastors of our community must come together, SBC entity heads of our community must come together, denominational workers of our community must come together, and present a united front—to say that we are ready to make this happen! And we’re not going to just tell you to do it; we’re going to be an example. We’re going to model it before you. We’re going to model it in the pulpit so that people in the pews can see that this can happen because our leaders are ready to make it to happen.
SBCLIFE: The artwork for this year’s theme depicts various shades of green, a cross, leaves from a tree, and a dove. What message do you hope to convey through this artwork?
Luter: I love the artwork. I like the color green because green signifies life. Whenever you smell fresh cut grass, it reminds you of life. Beautiful green trees remind you of life. So, I like the green color because it reminds you of life.
Of course, the cross is always something that we as the body of Christ want to aim for. We want always to look to the cross because that’s what gives us life. It reminds us from where we’ve come, from being lost sinners now redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross.
Then the leaves signify growth. You know, if this revival is going to happen, growth is going to happen in our churches and in our Convention. So, that’s where the leaves come in.
And then the dove . . . I love the dove because it signifies the fact that without the Spirit of God none of this can happen. So, I love the emphasis on the dove. The Holy Spirit is with us through this process. There is no doubt in my mind that we can be revived and also no doubt in my mind that we can come together as one.
SBCLIFE: Why should a Southern Baptist attend the annual meeting in Houston?
Luter: First of all, I think it’s a great opportunity for us to come together as Southern Baptists. We’re in different cities, different states, different regions, so it’s like a family reunion. All of us like family reunions!
And it’s an opportunity for us to come together and hear the great reports of what’s happening through all of our SBC entities—see what’s going on with NAMB, see what’s going on with IMB, see what’s going on with LifeWay, hear what’s going on at our seminaries. Getting these reports is important. We are supporting these places with our Cooperative Program monies. I don’t know about you, but I like to know how my money is being spent. You’re giving money to these offerings; this is what’s happening in those offerings, this is what’s being done. It’s a good opportunity to hear and bring the reports back to your churches.
But it also gives us a chance to come together and worship together as a body of Christ known as the Southern Baptist Convention. So, I look at it as a great family reunion and an opportunity to come and see what’s going on in your Convention and how you can support it. But most of all, how you can be a part of it!
SBCLIFE: Any final thoughts?
Luter: Come on down to Houston in the month of June. It’s hot there, so come casual. But, come. I look forward to seeing everybody there!
To secure the 2013 SBC Annual Meeting artwork, email SBC LIFE. It is currently unavailable for download.