Editor’s note: On Nov. 13 and 14, watch the proceedings of the South Carolina Baptist Convention annual meeting live at http://www.scbaptist.org/annualmeeting.
Anyone who says he loves Baptist convention business meetings is either being paid to be there or is being disingenuous (or else he also enjoys root canals).
I have been serving as a pastor in South Carolina long enough to remember the controversies of our past that made the meetings raucous affairs where thousands of people were ready to go to the deck over issues that divided us. Even then, with all the interest (and fireworks), very few folks left those convention meetings with a sense that everything done was Christ-honoring and would help our churches in reaching a lost world.
In recent years, attendance has decreased as the convention has had a more unified vision and an absence of controversy. Perhaps attendance has also declined because the current generation of leaders statewide has seen less and less value in participating in the convention meetings.
In the midst of that trend, and in the absence of a huge debate to draw a crowd, I am appealing to you to make this year’s state convention a priority. Why? Because everyone needs a good lesson in “Robert’s Rules of Order”? Not at all. This convention will be unlike any in our nearly 200-year history, and I am praying, along with many others, that God will be glorified in unprecedented ways, while every life will be challenged to grow on multiple levels. Let me explain how this is possible.
We are organizing our meeting around the priorities of our convention: starting churches, sharing our faith, sending missionaries, strengthening churches, and serving others in the name of Christ. This year’s presentations will have real take-home opportunities for you. You will have the privilege to pray in person with one of our state church planters. You will have the chance to meet with and learn from one of our state’s IMB missionaries. You will be given practical and meaningful steps to be more effective in personal evangelism.
We have five outstanding leaders who will be speaking to each of our convention’s priorities. They will inspire and challenge everyone present with the power of the Word of God. You do not want to miss hearing from Wayne Bray, George Wright, Will Browning, Alex Sands and Brad Vassey. Each of these outstanding pastors has a great word to share with us, and you will profit from their messages.
The venues for our convention are also unique. Never before has our convention met at a church campus from another Baptist family. We are meeting this year at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston. Their facility has ample space, acres of free parking and proximity to hotels and restaurants. For all of those reasons, we chose Mt. Moriah, but also because we are brothers and sisters in the Lord. Pastor Augustus “Robbie” Robinson is a Christ-honoring man who offered us this beautiful facility to express the love and grace of our Savior. Just being on their campus will be a testimony to the boundless love of Christ.
Finally, you are invited to worship Jesus Christ in the sanctuary of Mother Emanuel Church in downtown Charleston on Tuesday evening, Nov. 13. Please join me in praying for God to bring a season of refreshing in our worship that evening. The worship will include the choirs from Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Charleston singing with one voice to honor our Savior. (I know many of our churches do not have choirs, but if you have a pulse, you will be inspired by this experience.) We will also sing the great, robust hymns of the faith as a congregation in that sacred old sanctuary. Ronnie Floyd and Walter Strickland will be our preachers for the night, while pastor Anthony Thompson will give his testimony of forgiveness, recounting the story of his wife’s murder in that very place in June of 2015. The goal is to inspire us to build bridges over every barrier, including racial barriers, with the power of the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.
O Lord Jesus, will You come to humble and to refresh our souls; enable us to magnify You, that we may honor Your name with one heart to extend Your kingdom?
— Marshall Blalock is pastor of Charleston First Baptist Church and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.