ATLANTA – With the help of former President Jimmy Carter, Baptists who have distanced themselves from the conservative Southern Baptist Convention announced plans Tuesday for a major meeting that aims to improve the Baptist image and broaden its agenda.
Carter, who left the Southern Baptists in 2000 after the denomination came under conservative control, and former President Bill Clinton, also a Baptist, joined leaders of about 40 Baptist groups in making the announcement at The Carter Center.
“Our goal is to have a major demonstration of harmony and a common commitment to personifying and to accomplish the goals that Jesus Christ expressed,” Carter said.
Bill Underwood, president of Mercer University, a Georgia school with Baptist ties, stressed that the assembly was not a partisan effort, despite the support of the Democratic ex-presidents. Underwood predicted that Republican public officials would also participate in the meeting, scheduled tentatively for Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2008, in Atlanta.