By Savannah Cooper
COLUMBIA – In a move signaling a shared burden for the lost in Missouri between Missouri Southern Baptists and Baptist African-American leaders in the state, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Tolliver and Evangelism Director Gary Taylor met with members of the Missionary Baptist Convention of Missouri (MBCM) during the group’s annual meeting here March 16.
While the MBCM board meeting served as a planning session for their annual state convention in the fall, the March 16 visit by Tolliver and Taylor suggested a growing spirit of cooperation between the two Missouri Baptist organizations, particularly in the area of evangelism.
Tolliver and Taylor brought with them 5,000 Gospel presentations from the MBC’s ongoing God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS) initiative. GPS, a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)-wide initiative, is Missouri Southern Baptists’ effort to hang plastic bags – containing a presentation of the Gospel and an invitation by a local church to attend Easter services – on every front door in Missouri. To date approximately 800,000 GPS packets have been requested by MBC-affiliated churches. GPS also has long-term goals, which include spreading the Gospel to every home in Missouri (in America by the SBC) by 2020.
Tolliver and Taylor delivered 5,000 GPS bags to the MBCM board after MBCM Evangelism Chairman Oliver Patterson asked them to do so.
Through the GPS initiative, Taylor hopes to see the MBC better connect with the MBCM because of the collaboration required to reach such a monumental goal.
“Our GPS partnership is a huge common ground we can stand on, unified, endeavoring to evangelize Missouri,” Taylor said. “Missionary Baptists have congregations in areas of Missouri where there are no Missouri Baptist churches. Without their partnership in GPS, those areas would not be covered with prayer and the Gospel distribution.”
MBCM President Jimmy Brown first took an interest in the GPS initiative when he learned about it at the MBC State Evangelism Conference in Branson last January. Brown was eager to see Missionary Baptists become involved in the wide spread of the Gospel message in Missouri communities. Patterson invited Tolliver and Taylor to present GPS at the MBCM board meeting, and Taylor was quick to accept.
“Dr. Tolliver and I were thrilled to represent Missouri Baptists for what Dr. Tolliver described as ‘an historic event,’” Taylor said.
“Historic event” is an excellent description of what happened in Columbia on March 16. The two conventions have never before worked together, and their new partnership has begun to bridge the gap between not only two separate organizations, but two races.
Taylor believes that one result of the board meeting could be a continued partnership with the MBCM in the future, especially as it concerns the long-term goals of GPS.
“GPS is not just a 2010 MBC/SBC event,” Taylor said. “2010 is the launch year for a decade effort of ‘Every Believer Sharing, Every Person Hearing the Gospel’ of our dear Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Taylor concluded his presentation to the MBCM by holding up a pencil and noting how the creation of a pencil is part of a partnership. The different parts of a pencil—lead, eraser and wood—come from different nations and are made by different people throughout the world.
“Just as one place and one person cannot create a common pencil, neither can one person, one church or one denomination get the Gospel to every person in Missouri. It will take all of us,” Taylor said.
The day after the meeting, Patterson called Taylor to ask for an additional 2,500 GPS presentations.