By ALLISON WOOLLEY
The Southern Baptist Convention starting Monday in Salt Lake City is stirring up questions about the organization of the Baptist church.
The Southern Baptist Convention, Crossover Salt Lake City, is symbolic of the cross of Jesus Christ being held over them as they preach during the convention.
Southern Baptists are meeting together with local Baptists to share the gospel with other people in Utah.
“There are people out there who are lonely, and just need someone to talk to — they just need a friend,” said Emi Fitzgerald, a Baptist youth from Texas.
During the three days of the convention, Baptists will vote on a new president for the convention, while discussing business matters and official reports of the Baptist Church.
Although the president of the convention does not have any say in what each indivudiual Baptist church does, several members from each church are selected to vote for the new president.
The duties of this voluntary position include directing the plans of the convention for the upcoming year. The president receives money only for his travel expenses.
The Baptist faith is unique because every church is self-governed, acting independent of each other. The Southeast Baptist Church, located in Utah, is cooperating with the Southern Baptists to hold the Convention in Salt Lake City.
The congregation votes on the authorities of their church.
“Ninety plus percent of the clergy are ordained,” said Herb Hollinger, SBC Press Representative.
Every individual church decides how much their pastors will receive and by what means. The senior pastor of each church is most often paid through the weekly gifts or collections from the congregation, said Hollinger.
Under the pastor’s direction there are usually three assistant pastors who are also paid clergy: the Youth Pastor, Education Pastor, and Music Pastor.
The congregation also votes for the deacons, who usually receive no pay, to serve a care ministry for their church. They are assigned to different Sunday school classes to watch over the needs of the class members.
They believe the structure of their church helps the people minister, as Christ did, to the needs of others.
“The Lord’s first great commandment is to love one another,” said Don Dana, Southeast Baptist Deacon. “That is what we are to do — share his love.”
“We are here to share the ‘Good News’ of the Gospel,” Hollinger said.
The “Good News” that Baptists have brought to share with people of all other faiths, including non-denominational, are their beliefs in Christ. The core of their religion is based on the trinity of the godhead.
Hollinger explained their view of the relation between God, Jesus Christ, and the the Holy Spirit.
“God sent his son to earth. Jesus was the incarnation of God, through the Holy Spirit of God. They are one entity. We don’t understand that of course, but we accept that on faith because we are Christian and it is the New Testament,” he said.
Dana said he believes Jesus is the God that lives within us.
Baptists also believe in free salvation. If a person accepts Jesus and his teachings, they are automatically saved and will be with God after death.
Those who do not accept him, will be cut off from the presence of God, which would be terrible in itself, Dana said.
The Baptists will be sharing their message throughout the entire convention using several different approaches. Baptists are holding block parties to get people outside together to teach their message.
“Evangelism is our main focus,” said Tom Mooty, Southern Baptist Pastor from Tenn. “Ballooning, face painting, clowning, and music are all a part of the Crossover. It’s been a circus.”