By Susan Mires
BLUE SPRINGS– For eight hours, Plaza Heights Baptist Church dedicated itself to prayer and confession.
The Solemn Assembly on Feb. 20 at the church in Blue Springs was a time to look beyond the natural to seek a supernatural move from God, Senior Pastor Jim Tolliver said. The church had been preparing for the event for weeks.
“The spirit behind a Solemn Assembly is that it is a more reflective day with a somber attitude. We asked people to come in that spirit,” Tolliver said.
About 170 people took part the Solemn Assembly, an impressive percentage for a church with an average weekly attendance of about 500. Everyone from youth to senior citizens took part. Attendance was probably reduced by a snowstorm that day, Tolliver said, but he was not surprised by the strong showing.
“This isn’t a flash in the pan, it’s part of a greater emphasis on prayer,” he said.
Plaza Heights incorporates prayer as a central part of its Sunday evening service and has a dynamic Wednesday night prayer meeting.
“God has been working on who we are, to build a house of prayer,” Jim Tolliver said. “This is one part of the process.”
The Solemn Assembly was led by Bob Loggins, prayer and spiritual awakening specialist with the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
“It’s about providing an opportunity for the church to go through the cleansing process,” Loggins said. “We want to tenderize the hearts of the people to focus on whose house we are building. This is God’s domain.”
Before the Solemn Assembly, Loggins spent time in prayer, reading Scripture, and writing material. The Plaza Heights event was a Level Two assembly, which lasts from six to eight hours. Loggins leads events at four levels, ranging from two to 11 hours. He’s also developing Prayer 365 Code Red to lead believers to be in perpetual prayer.
“Our ultimate objective is to help people understand how much God loves us. He loves us so much he gives us an opportunity to mess up again,” Loggins said.
During the Plaza Heights event, church members alternated between moments of teaching on confession, repentance and revival, and gathering in small groups to pray.
Tolliver said church leaders at Plaza Heights met with Loggins in the months before the Solemn Assembly, and he paid careful attention to the pastor’s heart about where God was leading the church.
“Bob is a great resource available to us,” he said.
His leadership and the plan provided through the Solemn Assembly brought encouragement for members to pray together, he said. Plaza Heights is looking forward to a Level Three assembly in about six months.
“I would highly recommend it to other pastors,” he said. “It’s important for us to get back to prayer.”
David Tolliver (no relation), executive director of the MBC, also sees great potential in Solemn Assemblies and related prayer meetings.
“I’m convinced that the problems we face in Missouri Baptist life are not structural, they’re spiritual,” David Tolliver said. “Our churches have got to become healthy so the convention can be healthy.”
Loggins brings unique gifts to the state that are having an impact, he said, and the convention has resources to help churches organize prayer events.
“I applaud Jim Tolliver and the leadership at Plaza Heights for holding a Solemn Assembly and encourage more pastors to hold them,” David Tolliver said.
Plaza Heights has seen changes since it brought a fresh focus to prayer. Jim Tolliver said members are showing a deeper hunger to grow spiritually. Attendance at prayer meetings has grown, and more people are being saved and baptized, but he emphasized those results are the outgrowth, not the focus, of prayer.
“We’re not trying to manipulate God, we’re trying to be obedient,” he said. “This is more important than most things we do. As we are burdened for our area, all that begins with a strong foundation of prayer.”