Harvest Christian Fellowship joins Southern Baptist Convention
By Kevin Payne
Greg Laurie, founder and senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA., announced on June 12, that Harvest Christian Fellowship will join the Southern Baptist Convention.
Just one day after speaking to nearly 40,000 people at Harvest America in Glendale, AZ, Laurie made the announcement that his Riverside, CA, based church, one of the largest congregations in Southern California, is joining the world’s largest Baptist denomination.
‘This decision does not change our theology, philosophy of ministry or our history. It merely extends the reach of our fellowship within the Christian world at a time when I feel the American church desperately needs unity and a renewed passion for evangelism,” said Laurie, in a statement shared with The Christian Post. “The vision and mission of Harvest remains as it has been for 42 years.”
Laurie is one of the best-known leaders of the Calvary chapel movement, and the one-time heir apparent to its late founder Chuck Smith. Though the 15,000-member Harvest Fellowship will remain affiliated with the 1,000-plus network, the move makes Laurie’s shift toward mainstream evangelicalism official.
While Southern Baptist congregations remain independent, with local pastors free to govern their churches affiliations and approaches to ministry, the dual affiliation of Southern Baptist and Calvary Chapel is unusual. Laurie’s congregation is the most well-known and high-profile example that belongs to both.
In a statement, Laurie vowed to continue working with Christians from nearly every other denomination.
“I’ll continue to do just that, and I also look forward to continuing to build bridges between our communities,” he stated. I also have great admiration for the missions and relief ministries of the SBC that touch our world every day in a significant way.”
Photo: Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship