On July 15, 2013, Connect 316 was launched by five original Board Members, each faithful Southern Baptist ministers. Founding Executive Director Rick Patrick of Alabama was joined by Ron Hale of Tennessee, Eric Hankins of Mississippi, Tim Guthrie of Tennessee and Tim Rogers of North Carolina. Although many theologically driven ministry organizations existed for the support of reformed pastors and theologians, no such network existed to assist Traditionalists in the task of connecting with one another. Connect 316 was formed as an organization rooted in the theology of the Traditional Statement.
In the Summer of 2012, after hundreds of Southern Baptists had declared their affirmation of Traditionalist theology, it seemed beneficial to find ways to bring them together in an ongoing manner rather than simply relying on the one-time signing of a single document. The Traditional Statement itself was launched after a community of Southern Baptist ministers from across America began voicing their mutual concerns by means of social media. By April 13, 2012, this group was talking about a proposed document that might clarify the salvation doctrine affirmed by many if not most Southern Baptists. Adam Harwood nominated Eric Hankins to develop a first draft of this document. All were in agreement. Working from an original document provided by the group, Dr. Eric Hankins, the primary author, began crafting the statement, soliciting input from the group regarding the Affirmations and Denials section. The authors consulted regularly with Theology professors at several SBC seminaries and colleges.
Once completed, the Traditional Statement was released and soon made history. Southern Baptists have affirmed many confessions through the years, but this one was different. Rather than addressing theology comprehensively, this one focused on soteriology alone. Rather than coming from a formal convention organization, it came from grassroots Southern Baptists. Within days, hundreds of pastors, professors, denominational leaders and lay leaders within the Southern Baptist Convention registered agreement with its doctrines. These Southern Baptists had spoken clearly to distance themselves from the New Calvinism sweeping through the denomination. Next to the Baptist Faith and Message, the Traditional Statement is the most attested confessional document Southern Baptists have ever affirmed. By way of contrast, many more Southern Baptists have signed the Traditional Statement than have signed the Abstract of Principles, a Calvinistic statement contained in the 1858 charter of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
To summarize, Connect 316 is an organization taking its theological cues from the Traditional Statement, a document that arose due to the concerns of grassroots Southern Baptists. The strength of Connect 316 lies in the mutual commitment of rank and file Southern Baptists to the “Whosoever Will” view of salvation doctrine handed down to us by Mullins and Hobbs and Rogers—one that we now proudly refer to by the name Traditionalism.