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A Georgia Baptist Convention worth missing – Not!

 

When I was a boy I remember the Cole Brothers Circus coming to our town. They set up their Big Top not far from The Rock Elementary School, where I was a fourth grade student at the time. From the window next to my desk I could see the elephants tethered to stakes just outside the huge tent.

On Saturday morning before the circus started, there was a circus parade down the main street of our town. In addition to the elephants, they had beautiful horses, monkeys, and rolling cages with lions and tigers in the parade. Clowns dressed in colorful attire worked the crowds, passing out “Tootsie Pops” to the kids. Acrobats and motorcyclists, the masters of the flying trapeze, the human cannon ball and the ringmaster were all in the parade.

Oh, how I wanted to go to that circus. It was going to be in town for about a week and people were coming from all over the county to the vacant lot next to my school to see “The World’s Largest Circus Under The Big Top.”

On Friday night my dad came home from work and said, “Guess what? I’ve got tickets to the circus.” I was so excited. That night I went to the three-ring circus and was fascinated and mesmerized by the whole experience. It was absolutely wonderful. I am glad I didn’t miss it.

As some of you know, I am a Boston Red Sox fan. I have spent the last two months seeking psychiatric help over the shocking and shameful September swoon of the Sox. The Bosox won the World Series in 1918, but then sank into one of the longest championship droughts in baseball history.

After their 1918 championship there was an 86-year wait before the team finally won its next World Series in 2004. I thought about getting tickets to the 2004 World Series, but did not go and regretted it. For three years I beat myself up for missing out on that championship and started thinking that I would never have that opportunity again.

However, when the Red Sox won the American League Championship in 2007 I was intent on trying to get a ticket to at least one World Series game between the Red Sox and the Colorado Rockies. I managed to get two tickets and took my son, John, to the first game of the series in Fenway Park in Boston. It was a fabulous experience with the Red Sox winning 13 to 1. It was just terrific. I am glad I didn’t miss it.

I am not trying to compare our Convention to
a circus, a World Series game or even a Billy Graham Crusade, but I do believe it is important for you and your church to be represented...

In 1958 Billy Graham had a crusade in Charlotte, NC. When I was growing up Billy Graham was my hero. The previous year I had watched practically every night of his Madison Square Garden Crusade in New York City. In that 16-week crusade he preached to more than 2 million persons and more than 55,000 people came forward to make decisions for Christ. His message in Times Square during the crusade was incredible and he drew the largest crowd in the history of Yankee Stadium at the conclusion of the evangelistic meeting.

So, when Billy Graham came to Charlotte for a crusade in 1958 I was eager to go to see in person this man whom God was using so mightily. The Charlotte Crusade was no less impressive than the New York Crusade. The meetings were held in the Charlotte Coliseum and lasted from September 21 to October 25 and attracted a total attendance of almost 500,000. Almost 20,000 responded to the call to place their faith in Christ.

My hometown was more than 60 miles from Charlotte, but I was privileged to attend the Crusade several nights. The music of the 1,000-plus voice choir, the singing of the people in the packed Coliseum, the obvious sense of God’s presence, the messages of Billy Graham and the incredible response of the people to Dr. Graham’s invitation was thrilling beyond my ability to describe. It was a spiritual mountaintop experience. I am glad I didn’t miss it.

Once again my excitement is growing as I think about this year’s Georgia Baptist Convention. I have been to Baptist state conventions since 1955, when I attended the North Carolina Baptist state convention as a Royal Ambassador page. I love my fellow Baptists. I love the preaching, the music, the fellowship – even the business sessions.

I am not trying to compare our Convention to a circus, a World Series game or even a Billy Graham Crusade, but I do believe it is important for you and your church to be represented at this year’s Convention meeting in Lawrenceville at North Metro First Baptist Church Nov. 13-15.

The theme President Dan Spencer has chosen for this year’s Convention is “Georgia Now.” In a recent video filmed with GBC Executive Director J. Robert White, Spencer stated, “I have chosen the theme ‘Georgia Now’ because now is the time for us to focus on the harvest and work together as never before to reach our state for Christ.

“On Tuesday afternoon we will be having breakout sessions. Vice President for Evangelism Steve Parr is providing leadership for these sessions designed to help equip our churches to get the Gospel out to the people in our Judea.”

Spencer indicated that the Convention will feature great worship, inspiring music and powerful preaching, including a message from Jerry Spencer (the president’s father) at the Sunday night rally. Other sermons will include a missionary message from Dannie Williams, doctrinal message from Brian Stowe, the president’s address, and the closing message from Steven Smith, dean of The College at Southwestern, which is located on the campus of Southwestern Seminary.

After two years of intensive study and steadfast work, the GBC Task Force will be bringing their report to the messengers of the Convention. The report is already available at gbcreport.blogspot.com.The Budget Allocation Committee will also present a report that should interest the messengers.

Perhaps the most heralded item of business will be the election of officers. Both John Waters, pastor of First Baptist Church in Statesboro, and Fred Evers, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Tifton, will be nominated. Some have speculated that another presidential nomination may be forthcoming. The truth is that this year’s presidential election has attracted significant attention and promises to be a big drawing card to the annual meeting. I hope you will be one of the messengers.

A Georgia Baptist Convention worth missing – Not this year.