Southern Baptist megachurch pastors met this week with US vice-president Mike Pence and senior White House officials as part of the annual Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) MegaMetro retreat.
The invitation-only retreat for pastors of churches with Sunday attendances of more than 2,000 was attended by 68 pastors and 65 of their wives (SBC churches do not have female pastors). It was organised by former SBC president Ronnie Floyd, who told the Christian Post: ‘Folks wanted to come to Washington, DC so that we can pray for our country and be in the environment of Washington.’
The conference concluded on Wednesday with the pastors and their wives visiting the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, located next to the White House, to participate in a 90-minute White House senior staff briefing. Pence appeared for a ‘surprise’ 20-minute visit.
‘Once again, I was reminded that the president, vice-president and their administration are totally committed to the biblical issues we deeply care about – the sanctity of life, the family, the support of Israel, religious freedom, and securing a strong nation under God,’ Texas pastor Jack Graham told the Christian Post.
‘Throughout the day, and in many previous meetings, I’ve heard them say “Please pray for us.”They say, “Support us – yes – but mostly pray for us!”‘
At the end of the meeting, Floyd said Pence asked to take a picture with the group.
‘I am grateful for the opportunity. The way we think about it is the more we know about our country, the better we can pray for our country,’ Floyd said.
Among the pastors attending was Trump loyalist Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church, Dallas.
The Trump administration has courted evangelicals, who have been credited with securing victory for Trump in his election campaign. Despite allegations of sexual misconduct centring on porn actress Stormy Daniels, evangelical support for him among evangelicals has remained largely solid.
Evangelicals are exploring the possibility of a meeting between Trump and pastors in June as the mid-term elections – in which Republicans are facing an uphill battle – draw closer. Reports that he would be quizzed about his relationship with Daniels have been comprehensively denied by the spokesman for his informal group of evangelical advisers, Johnnie Moore.