Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Georgia Baptist Convention concludes

I really enjoyed the Georgia Baptist Convention as it concluded today at FBC Jonesboro. The preaching and music was incredible. Here's a picture of the mass choir from our three Baptist colleges that sang.
I enjoyed meeting people and seeing friends. I even talked to a lady who was in the movie Fireproof. They had a huge BBQ on the church grounds for all the messengers for supper. That's a lot of BBQ, since we had 1,545 registered messengers! I saw Paul Moore from Elim-Egypt Baptist north of Guyton and Marty Youngblood, the student minister at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, and Curtis Meador, who used to pastor in Garden City and is now an associational missionary.
We approved the name change of Shorter College to Shorter University, to take effect in about a year. We approved the 2009 budget, which was a 5% decrease, due to the economy. We approved a missions partnership with New York City Metro Association.
The convention approved a controversial new policy which allows the Executive Director and Administrative Committee of the Executive Committee to refuse a gift. The purpose of this new policy was to avoid a situation where somebody gave a gift that we didn't want, such as property that needed environmental cleanup, or money from an organization that we don't agree with. The reason it was controversial was that it would allow them to refuse money from a Georgia Baptist Church, and thus that Georgia Baptist Church would be unable to send messengers to the convention. The specific example given was a church that had a female pastor, when Southern Baptists do not approve of female pastors. (FBC Decatur has called a woman pastor.) But those who object fear that it put too much power in the hands of a few, and that it could open a Pandora's Box of reasons why they might not approve of something a church did, and thus refuse their money and lock them out of having a voice in the convention. It was debated in the morning, then came back up for another vote in the afternoon, and after debate the decision was sustained. I do not support female pastors, but I voted against the new policy, because I'm concerned that it is a dangerous precedent to put too much power in the hands of a few.
We heard some more outstanding sermons. Fred Evers gave a powerful sermon from Psalm 115 about how God alone is God, and with the growth of pagan religion and secularism in America, we must stand up and say that our God is the only God.
Bucky Kennedy, pastor of FBC Vidalia, was re-elected as president. He did a great job of presiding over the meeting, keeping things on track and using his sense of humor to keep people in a good mood. He kept reminding us about the BBQ, and then he said, "Next year we're going to have a wild game supper. Whatever you kill on the way to the meeting, load it up and bring it-- deer, possum, cat or dog. The theme of next year's convention will be 'you kill it, we grill it.'"
There's a picture above of Bucky Kennedy preaching.
There wasn't much to the resolutions. The only resolution presented other than thanking the host church was that we adopted a resolution asking the Congress to recognize the 400th anniversary of the King James Version Bible in 2011 by issuing a commemorative silver dollar. Although I was glad to honor the anniversary of the KJV Bible, I was a little surprised that we had no resolutions about the important issues facing our nation today.
The final sermon was brought by Jonathan Falwell, the son of Jerry Falwell. He talked about how he took the pastorate of his father's huge church last year when Jerry Falwell died. He brought a great message about how the great established churches and the great new contemporary churches in America need to work together instead of being suspicious of one another. He pointed out that the woman at the well asked Jesus how he was going to bring her water when he didn't have a bucket (John 4:11). He said, "She was focusing on the bucket instead of focusing on the living water." He said it's not important whether we have contemporary in the bucket or traditional in the bucket, whether a coat and tie in the bucket or a loose shirt, blue jeans and flip flops in the bucket. What matters is that the bucket has the living water, the saving gospel of Jesus Christ!"
And finally, among those nominated and elected to various boards of the Georgia Baptist Convention, I was elected as an at-large member of the Executive Committee, for a term lasting until 2013.

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