1. Fred Luter's election in June as SBC president. He is the SBC's first African American president. The SBC's first female president? Perhaps next millenium.
2. The SBC adopts an informal, voluntary, use-it-if-you-want new name: Great Commission Baptists. Well, the non-name change squeaked by with 53% of the vote in June. Plodder speculates that 99% of SBCers are voting against its use and that it is already mostly forgotten.
3. The Traditionalist Counter Reformation in the SBC is launched by The Traditionalist Statement. Some SBCers have had enough of Calvinists dominating the conversation in the SBC and "A Statement of the Traditional Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation" was the first shot of the SBC traditionalists, the anti-Calvinists.
4. Frank Page apppoints a Calvinist study committee. The committee is informal, voluntary, and meets privately. I commend Page for the effort and had hopes that it might help bring some Calvinist/Traditionalist comity in the SBC, but am less optimistic now.
5. Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has a new president. After two consecutive rather high profile, and failed, presidencies MWTS trustees surprisingly picked an obscure, young, inexperienced president. He cannot do much worse than his last two predecessors and has my prayers for success.
6. The North American Mission Board launches their grand church planting effort, SEND North America. The new NAMB is leaner, more nimble, more transparent, and much more focused organization. The church planting initiative SEND NA is now their signature program. It will take a few years to see how well it works but it has a good start. Concomitant with this news was the fact that NAMB's Annie Armstrong offering was up by a significant percentage.
7. SBCers support Mitt Romney for president, though in a backhanded sort of way, and once again eschew the Christian candidate for president. We evangelicals are certainly a schizophrenic bunch when it comes to politics.
8. Our Sacred Tax Break, the clergy housing allowance, is under assault. You will not have read anywhere else but here about the Freedom From Religion Foundation's being granted standing to sue on the basis that the laws allowing ministers this tax break is unconstitutional. Baptist Press and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission may get around to paying attention to this matter, one that is more important to SBC clergy than just about any other law or public policy, when it moves along in the courts.
9. State Conventions adjust to the realities of SBC life in the 21st century. State conventions continue to downsize, right-size their staffs as the Cooperative Program languishes. While Danny Akin has now dropped the incendiary language about "bloated bureaucracies" he did identify an area that resonates with Southern Baptists. Many of the states also are yielding to their constituents' desires for more CP dollars to be forwarded to SBC causes.
10. The Cooperative Program, despite pronouncements about its irrelevancy and death, is still a huge funding engine. While it is a diminishing brand among SBCers, one should not fail to understand that it is and will continue to be a mammoth funding stream for SBC causes.
11. Richard Land announces his retirement. One of the SBC's old lions decides to retire after being heavily criticized.
12. Chicken continues to reign supreme among Southern Baptists. How else would one view the fact that four of Baptist Press' top ten most read stories for 2012 were about Chic-Fil-A?