What a joy to serve as a messenger from Bradfordville during the annual meeting of the Florida Baptist Convention! This year’s meeting was held in Clearwater, Florida, at Calvary Baptist Church. Pastor Willy Rice, church staff, and volunteers hosted convention messengers and guests with servant attitudes. Messengers from Bradfordville included Rick and Carole Stewart, Tom and Nicole Cooney, and Angie and me. Stella Cottrell attended the convention on Tuesday. She is serving on the State Board of Missions.
Our group attended the pastors’ conference, convention sessions, and special lunch meetings. The ladies enjoyed a luncheon for wives on Tuesday. I participated in a Committee on Nominations meeting and dinner on Monday night. Tom joined me for a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary alumni luncheon on Monday. Rick attended a meeting and luncheon for church educators (The Table) on Monday.
I’m thankful that Bradfordville’s influence is growing in our state convention. I offer you seven personal thoughts about our state convention.
1. Our state convention is diverse. Heaven is going to be diverse (Rev. 7:9). Our state convention is a beautiful picture of Heaven. The Florida Baptist Convention is made up of churches of various sizes, styles, and structures. Many different languages are spoken throughout our state. People of all ages are members of the Florida Baptist family. It refreshed my heart to see and hear the different ways messengers praised and adored God during the annual meeting.
2. Our state convention values biblical preaching. The president of the Florida Baptist Convention, Dr. James Peoples, invited many great preachers to fill the pulpit during the convention. Those sermons were faithful to God’s Word and delivered with passion. I love to hear God’s Word preached.
3. Our state convention is led by visionary leaders. Our state convention is committed to planting and revitalizing churches. Dr. Tommy Green is leading the way. As Florida Baptists’, we have dedicated state convention leaders, pastors, staff members, and lay leaders. Our state convention is in a good place because of healthy, visionary leaders.
4. Our state convention is kingdom-focused. Throughout the Florida Baptist Convention, children are being cared for and loved, missionaries are being supported financially and prayerfully, new churches are being planted, established churches are being revitalized, pastors and church leaders are being supported, and more financial resources are being given to reach the nations with the Good News of Jesus.
5. Our state convention loves to sing. Singing is a vital part of worship. Choirs, orchestras, praise teams, solos, gospel groups, and congregational singing filled Calvary’s worship center with shouts and praise to God. A Haitian choir led us in worship on Tuesday morning. Singing was done in order, with expression, and for God’s glory!
6. Our state convention exists for the churches. Dr. Tommy Green and other state convention leaders recognize their roles. God has called (and positioned) them to serve the Lord and local churches. The focus of ministry isn’t the convention office in Jacksonville. State leaders are mobilized to serve pastors and churches in their local cities and communities.
7. Our state convention is a model to other state conventions. The Florida Baptist Convention is a model in the Southern Baptist Convention. Our state convention, under Dr. Green’s leadership, voted to allocate and send 51% of every dollar to the Southern Baptist Convention, while 49% stays in Florida. This means that more money is being given to support national and international missionaries. In the near future, the International Mission Board plans to send more personnel overseas to reach unreached people groups. That decision is a reality because of the increased giving of the Florida Baptist Convention.
As for 2017, state convention messengers and leaders will gather in November in Miami. As Bradfordville participates in the Florida Baptist Convention, God is using us to love upward, inward, and outward.
Angie and I want to wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving Day!
Giving Him Thanks,
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18