It's been more than seven decades since it happened, but the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention – set for early June in Orlando – has been canceled over concerns with the coronavirus outbreak.
Ronnie Floyd is president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee. In an announcement released Tuesday afternoon, he said it was a step he never expected or wanted to make when he joined the committee.
"In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, which we believe constitutes a grave emergency, it is in the best interest of the SBC to cancel the Annual Meeting – for the first time in 75 years – out of a deep concern for the health and safety of messengers and attendees," Floyd states.
Messengers are voting delegates sent to the annual meeting on behalf of local Southern Baptist churches.
"We are calling on all Southern Baptists to pray for an end to this global pandemic and that God will bring His Church together at this time to sharpen our focus like never before," Floyd adds.
He urges Southern Baptists not to "shrink back in timidity" at this time, or to be "paralyzed with uncertainty." Instead, says the committee president, it is a time to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.