The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, is holding its annual meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday in Dallas. Here are some facts about the SBC:
The SBC consists of 47,272 churches with a total membership of about 15.2 million. Weekly attendance at worship services is about 5.2 million. Each church is a self-governing congregation that makes its own decisions on staffing, budget and programs.
According to the latest SBC figures, 39,094 of the churches are predominantly white, 3,228 predominantly African-American, and 2,103 predominantly Hispanic. There are also churches for Korean, Native American, Chinese and other ethnic communities.
The SBC oversees extensive missionary programs in the U.S. and abroad and operates six seminaries with a total enrollment of more than 21,000.
Each SBC church is allowed to send two "messengers" to the annual meeting. The messengers adopt a budget for ministry and missions, receive reports from the SBC institutions and vote on new resolutions. Also, a new SBC president will be elected in Dallas. The two candidates are North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear and Ken Hemphill, an administrator at North Greenville University in South Carolina.
The SBC was formed before the Civil War in defense of slaveholders and has been trying to overcome its racist history. In 1995, on the SBC's 150th anniversary, the annual meeting adopted a resolution apologizing for condoning and perpetuating racism, and committed to eradicate racism in the SBC's ministry. In 2012, the SBC for the first time elected an African-American, Fred Luter Jr., as president.