Freeman Heights Baptist Church
Recently, the youth minister of Freeman Heights Baptist, Josh Comer, and I had the privilege of representing our church to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans, La.
We had a great experience learning again the sights and sounds of a refurbished city still feeling the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I had the honor to work on the Credentials Committee, which helps certify any Messengers that may have had problems or clarification on their membership and voting rights for this meeting of the 2012 SBC. It was a great honor for me to serve and assist our Convention for this year.
There were many families who attended the event with over 8,000 registered Messengers and then their families. Each church that is a member of the Convention can have up to 10 messengers and no more. That mean whether the church has 10 members or 100,000, they can only have 10 messengers maximum from any body.
It was a very historical and powerful meeting. Dr. Fred Luter Jr. was elected as the president of the Convention for 2012-13. He is the pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church of New Orleans and the first black pastor ever to be elected to that post.
The Convention was filled with thrilling reports about the work of the 16 million member denomination and all that God is doing through its churches.
There are six seminaries, a host of missionaries, over 5,000 sent around the world supported by the Cooperative Program, which is the church's way of tithing and supporting the causes of Southern Baptist globally.
The Gospel is always at the heart of the churches that make up the convention. We discussed the possibility of adding an identifier to the name of Southern Baptist Convention, using "Great Commission Baptist." This term was to give Southern Baptists more appeal to those who felt the name "Southern" made it a regional entity rather than a global one.
After much debate, the identifier was adopted by the SBC to help our missionaries in the northern United States. Unlike how it was advertised, this was not a name change of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The people of the Convention felt that the name Southern Baptist should be left and the things that happened in the past that might hinder some may have occurred but does not define who we are now as a people of the Bible and of Faith. We intend to move forward to everyone in God's creation with "Good News" of Jesus Christ.
The Convention sermons, the music, choirs and displays all helped the messengers to return to their home churches knowing that we are making a difference in this world.
Southern Baptist are like many in America: We have many languages, many races, and different styles of worship and some difference on minor things, but we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body (I Corinthians 12:13a).
You can find many differences among SBC churches but you find that most have a love for God and His Word, a passion for missions and heart for ministry to our fellow man.
Our Convention will convene again in June 2013 in Houston, Texas where each of our churches will send its messengers again to determine the course for another year among Baptist around the world.
By the way, in case you were not aware, each SBC church is autonomous, self-governing and sends its messengers to tell the Convention what to do for the coming year. No Convention, whether global, national, state or association is over the local Church.
It's amazing what we can do together in Cooperation, amongst our diversity individually that we could not accomplish separately.
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Alan Brown is Senior Pastor at Freeman Heights Baptist Church in Berryville. He has been pastoring and preaching for 36 years in Arkansas, Texas, and in the mission fields. He is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He and his wife, Tammy, have five children.