Southern Baptists mull informal new name

June 17, 2012 at 11:38 AM

NEW ORLEANS, June 17 (UPI) -- An informal name change for the denomination may be considered at this week's annual convention of the Southern Baptists in New Orleans, officials said.

The denominational is expected to consider occasionally replacing the more traditional "Southern Baptist" in informal usage with "Great Commission Baptists" for the nation's largest Protestant denomination, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Sunday.

An internal study on whether the name of the 167-year-old denomination should be changed found, among other things, that a formal name change would create legal problems.

The denomination's executive committee will propose that local churches and Southern Baptist agencies informally call themselves "Great Commission Baptists" if they feel the circumstances are right, The Times-Picayune said. It wouldn't be a formal name change, but a "descriptor."

Southern Baptists said they've found that "Southern" stereotypes the denomination and hurts their work to attract minorities and non-Southern whites.

The proposed name is from Jesus Christ's final instructions to his apostles to proselytize throughout the world.

Baptist Press, the denominational news agency, recently reported that research by a Baptist-affiliated research group indicated more than half of Southern Baptist pastors said they wouldn't use "Great Commission Baptists" when referring to themselves or their churches.

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