Rendezvous – Missouri Baptist style – comes to St. Louis
November 4, 2003
Rendezvous – This year, our country is celebrating the 200th year anniversary of the beginning of Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery journey across America. They returned to St. Louis in 1806. Shortly thereafter, a lucrative fur trade developed in the west. A small army of trappers and other assorted mountain men spread across the west seeking their fortunes. They would annually gather at sites along the river highway for “Rendezvous.” Rendezvous was a festive time for people who hadn’t seen friends during an entire year. This is similar to what is going to take place at the Millennium Hotel and Convention Center on the river front in St. Louis over the next three days. Family and friends from Southern Baptist life are going to “Rendezvous” in St. Louis.
Mountain men came together to share stories, catch up on the latest news, sell furs and buy provisions for the next year. We won’t be selling furs or buying provisions. So, what is it that brings us together? I can summarize it in a single word — missions.
The rope of sand that is strong as steel in Southern Baptist life is cooperative missions. We cooperate locally and internationally. During these three days, we will hear reports and lay plans for the next year. We will elect trustees and board members who will carry out the directives and mission of the convention and its churches. We will set directions in place by adopting budgets. We will speak to contemporary issues and send messages to our culture through resolutions and policies — AND, we will do it in a festive atmosphere with the Word of God challenging us to faith and good works. It is a grand time. This is an exciting time to be a Missouri Southern Baptist!
Agency Reports — Each of our convention’s agencies will give a report to you about what their ministry is doing. You will hear testimonies of what God is doing in our Missouri Baptist Convention. There are some God-sized visions to share and there are some God-sized answers to prayer that have come to churches across our state.
Missions Reports – Tuesday night we will all be a part of the commissioning of 89 new missionaries by our North American Mission Board. Some of these missionaries are from our Missouri Baptist family. You will surely want to be part of Tuesday evening. This special night of missions will also feature a report about the progress of our international partnership with Romanian Baptists that you set in motion last year. A world-class leader, Paul Negrut from Oradea, Romania, will bring us a special challenge as will Bob Reccord, president of our North American Mission Board. The annual meeting will be concluded by a message from another world class evangelical leader, D. James Kennedy, president and founder of Evangelism Explosion International. This is the first ministry, in the entire history of the church, to have penetrated EVERY nation and EVERY territory of the world with the Gospel. What a great celebration of missions this annual meeting will be!
Legal Task Force Report – On Oct. 9, the Legal Task Force gave a report and offered a strategy to your Executive Board. This strategy is being brought to the convention’s floor for your information and approval. We believe it is consistent with the directives the convention gave the Legal Task Force in its charge to them at the Cape Girardeau annual meeting in 2001. It is possible that we will see this legal question finished within months.
The depositions that have been taken by our convention’s legal team are uncovering many more facts. We are learning of untenable theological positions that are being advanced by the present administration of our Missouri Baptist College. We are learning details about the immense debt of $18.4 million that renegade leadership has placed on the Windermere Baptist Conference Center without Convention approval. These discoveries and many more are simply “steeling” our resolve.
The video version of the report that you will see at the annual meeting will be sent to all of our churches and association offices immediately after the Legal Task Force’s report to the messengers. Please be sure your church family sees this report.
MMO – Least I somehow forget to do so otherwise, I want to tell you a story of Iona Baptist Church, Jackson. This church is bi-vocationally pastored by E.D. Francis. Brother E.D. is also the president of our Missouri Bivocational Ministers Association. In that role, he is now part of our Missouri Missions Offering (MMO) task force that annually reviews the MMO budget requests and helps set the annual goal.
“Last year I did virtually nothing to promote the MMO,” E.D. told me recently. “But after sitting on the task force, listening to the MMO’s purpose and strategies, I could not be more excited about it. Last year we only gave about $25 to this offering. This year we set a goal of $1,000 and have already exceeded it! To-date, we have given over $1,100 to the (Rheubin L. South) Missouri Missions Offering.”
E.D. and Iona Baptist Church have been a source of encouragement to me. Haven’t they been an encouragement to you too?
New emphasis – The convention is focused on rebuilding dying and/or plateaued churches. A new plan addressing this concern was rolled out and emphatically embraced by all the directors of missions who were present in their semi-annual meeting in October. Your MBC and the associations are partnering in an exciting new ministry to rebuild dying and plateaued churches. This is not a pie-in-the-sky idea. It is a proven strategy built on the testimony of scores and scores of revitalized churches. It works in the inner city, the country and all points in between. We are excited about this strategic ministry.
New Staff – has been added in some strategic ministry areas. In the course of the annual meeting, you will be introduced to our new Worship Specialist, Bill Shiflett. Take some time in the exhibit areas to meet the rest of the ministry staff of the MBC. We want you to know them, use them, and let them serve some of the strategic ministry needs of your church family. In pages 60 through 70 of your Bulletin Program & Book of Reports you will find a complete list.
Welcome to the 2003 Rendezvous in St Louis!