(RNS) — Months ahead of their planned annual meeting, some Southern Baptist leaders are embracing an unofficial moniker for their gathering and, in some cases, for themselves: Great Commission Baptists.

The name simultaneously distances them from a regional affiliation and focuses on the command of Jesus for his followers to spread his message worldwide, some leaders say. But the name change is also being entertained by some at a time when leaders of the denomination — whose origins in 1845 were marked by a defense of slavery — are reflecting on racial tensions in the country.

“The farther we get from 1845, the more clear we need to be with our mission,” said Josh Powell, president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. “And, yes, it

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