More than 15,000 Southern Baptists managed to squeeze into the recently re-opened and wildly popular downtown Nashville and definitely got a good dose of sensory overload.
Along with tossing us back in the deep end of a shoulder-to-shoulder mass crowd experience at every turn, we also may be suffering a bit from information overload.
You’ll find brief summaries of what took place throughout this issue, but it is nowhere near all that could have been included.
And even with the tense debate moments, unkind comments swirling around social media and a few pointed jabs from various platforms, the excitement of being back together after a year break because of the pandemic was undeniable.
Smiles beamed across corridors, hugs were tight and nonstop chatter and laughter could be heard throughout the Music City Center and hotel lobbies.
The pressroom had a similar feel. Reporters from across the country didn’t have much time to look up from their laptops, but we all took a few minutes to catch up with peers.
I ended up in a few conversations where reporters from the mainstream media were attempting to explain what was happening to a general audience who for the most part doesn’t understand the Southern Baptist structure.
They shared how they work to understand what all is taking place themselves and then try to put it in terms their audience can understand.
They do a lot of comparisons and use words that sometimes frustrate those of us who understand the lingo of Baptist life.
For instance, one major newspaper headline and a cable news outlet described newly elected SBC president Ed Litton as the “moderate” candidate and in turn upset a lot of faithful Southern Baptists who don’t know him personally.
But back to the reporters who are attempting to write in a context that makes sense to a non-Southern Baptist audience, is it possible the description was the reporter’s attempt to explain the differences between Litton and the other candidates within the outside world’s view of who Southern Baptists are?
Also, when a media outlet uses labels not fairly attributed, then we would urge caution in jumping to conclusions.
We all have different understandings of most labels used to describe people, so we can’t assume the writer has the same understanding the reader does.
For the most part during the SBC Annual Meeting, we heard from countless Southern Baptists going the extra mile to understand the issues, learn about the candidates for president and make informed decisions as they voted.
Addressing concerns directly with the person involved rather than venting about it on social media is a much more productive way to work through the process.
Southern Baptists definitely showed up ready to be heard and now have an opportunity to find common ground if we truly are seeking to work together.
TAB Media covers the SBC annual meeting with onsite staff (front row, l to r) Van Payne, Sam Evans, Jessica Ingram, Grace Thornton, (back row, l to r) Dianna Cagle, Jennifer Rash, Margaret Colson, (not shown) Shawn Hendricks and Art Toalston. And while every staff member back at home also had a role, Carrie McWhorter took the lead in managing all the content for both online and print coverage coming from the onsite team. (Photo by Pam Henderson)
Sam Evans (left), videographer for TAB Media, produced daily news video recaps of SBC 2021 activities, with Jennifer Davis Rash reporting and photography by Evans and Van Payne. (Photo by Margaret Colson)