MBC regional marriage confabs will feature popular musicians
January 14, 2005
By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY – Encouraged by David Tolliver, immediate past president of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), and Mitchell Jackson, current MBC president, MBC Family Ministries Specialist Joe Ulveling has unveiled a lineup of seven regional marriage enrichment events in Missouri with concerts by nationally known Christian musicians.
Tolliver, pastor, Pisgah Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs, and Jackson, pastor, Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston, were so impressed by the “Hooked For Life” marriage conferences that Ulveling did at both churches that they said he ought to regionalize his approach within Missouri for 2005. That led to Ulveling developing a series of “Hooked For Life” conferences from February to October that will include such skilled singers as Russ Lee, Wendi Green and Judy Martin Hess.
“Hooked For Life” is a national seminar entering its fifth year. The musicians have been added to enhance the teaching, Ulveling said.
“This is really a way just to blow the doors wide open,” he said. “We’re not able to touch every area of the state, so next year we’ll go in some different areas.”
First Baptist Church, Dexter, is hosting the first event Feb. 11-12. That will be followed by conferences April 1-2 at Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Springfield, April 29-30 at First Baptist Church, O’Fallon, Sept. 9-10 at Concord Baptist Church, St. Louis, Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at Skyline Baptist Church, Branson, October 14-15 at Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, and Oct. 21-22 at First Baptist Church, Raytown. Cost is $50 per couple.
Lee, a No. 1 solo artist formerly with the band NewSong, is scheduled to perform concerts at Ridgecrest, Concord St. Louis and First Raytown. Green, who founded the group Sierra, is scheduled to appear with her husband, Brian, a Nashville, Tenn., studio musician, at First O’Fallon. Martin Hess, a member of the popular Southern Gospel trio The Martins, will be singing at Skyline.
Each of these nationally known artists will sing for about an hour on Friday night before returning to lead conference attendees in praise and worship Saturday morning.
“Instead of just having a marriage enrichment event, you’re having some fun as well,” said Ulveling, adding that he hopes the musicians will be able to energize participants by the grace of God. “The music along with the teaching time makes it a little bit bigger draw.”
Supporting Ulveling in his ministry objectives for 2005 is MBC Worship Specialist Bill Shiflett, who has agreed to be the music headliner at the Concord Jefferson City event.
“Bill’s a wild man for Jesus,” Ulveling said.
The first event in Dexter is an example of the new regional emphasis that Ulveling is debuting. The church has the potential to attract people from Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky. As many as 400 churches in the area around First Dexter could have couples attend, Ulveling said.
“It’s about quality and excellence—doing the absolute best that we can for God,” he said. “To do that, bigger is not always better, but it’s a draw. We want to reach out. We’re hoping to draw people from other faiths and folks who aren’t Christians.”
Ulveling said the Lord is helping him to speak powerfully to male Missouri Baptists. Some have even told him, “Joe, you just sneak right up to us, smile, put your arm around us, whack us in the head with a 2-by-4 and then just keep on walking.” Men will typically thank him after the conference for his honesty.
“Overwhelmingly, I have men, almost at every conference, that come up and are weeping and hugging my neck,” Ulveling said. “It’s God. When you impact a man, you’re impacting that whole home. That is immense personal satisfaction when you see men challenged so much.”
Ulveling said he will measure success out of these marriage enrichment events not so much by attendance in large sanctuaries but by individual conversions and individual families who are strengthened.
“Our churches are only as strong as our families,” he said.