The International Mission Board is likely the most esteemed Cooperative Program institution left in the Southern Baptist Convention. Because much of it’s activities are overseas, not as much news gets out about this organization as does its domestic counterpart, the North American Mission Board. the International Mission Board via the Baptist Press, the denominations PR firm, announced that it would be requiring COVID-19 vaccination for its missionaries. The IMB announced:
The IMB policy requires IMB missionaries and their children ages 16 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attending Field Personnel Orientation prior to their long-term field service; and IMB missionaries and their children ages 16 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attending Stateside Conference during their periodic return to the United States. Attendance at the two conferences is mandatory for missionaries before initial entry or return to a country of service. The policy also requires staff members whose must interact with field personnel at Field Personnel Orientation and Stateside Conferences to obtain COVID-19 vaccination. The policy is effective immediately.
Volunteers serving with IMB field teams must follow the recommendations and requirements of the government of the hosting country for the volunteer trip. IMB does, however, recommend those who are not required to be vaccinated by the host country to consider being vaccinated, given the risks associated with travel. The recommendation for volunteers is designed to protect not only the volunteer, but also the field personnel, national partners and ongoing field ministries.
This came on September 8th, the day before sweeping mandates were announced by Joe Biden. There is an obvious Romans 14 violation here as well as a flagrant disregard for sphere sovereignty, as even Todd Friel agreed that the church didn’t have the power to mandate vaccines. But none of that matters to the Southern Baptist Convention. Their stated reasons are pragmatic not biblical. “The world is watching” is their modus operandi. While it is as easy as it has ever been in American history for the church to be distinct from the world, the Southern Baptist Convention continues to choose to love the world.