MONDAY—for us, Monday began with the morning session of the missions celebration of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). WMU always conducts their annual meeting in conjunction with the annual meeting of the SBC. On Sunday they enjoy a time of worship, but also conduct meetings of their Executive Board. Because of our travel schedule, Myra and I were not able to participate in the Sunday festivities, but I want to be sure and make you aware that Missouri Baptists played prominent roles in the Sunday meeting. Joan Dotson is a member of the Lake St. Louis First Baptist Church and President of the Missouri WMU (MOWMU). Laura Wells is the pastor’s wife at Sandy Baptist Church in Jefferson County, MBC WMU Adult Consultant and Executive Director of MOWMU. Both Joan and Laura are members of the national WMU Board and participated in the meeting.
But another MOWMU icon also played a prominent role in the WMU meeting, posthumously. During the Executive Board meeting, national WMU played the video, produced by Missouri Baptist Convention, about the life of missionary Vivian McCaughan. I was told that it was a hallowed moment in the meeting. Southern Baptist ladies from all over the world celebrated the life of Missouri’s own favorite missionary—Vivian McCaughan. We all miss her and honor her. Thanks WMU for remembering her with us.
Back to our experience on Monday— Monday also included the SBC Pastors’ Conference. The Pastors’ Conference is always a good time of fellowship and worship. Singing and preaching all day—for us, the afternoon, that’s a fun time for preachers.
But, Myra and I were also pleased to participate with our Missouri WMU ladies at the Monday morning and evening sessions of the missions celebration. I have to admit, at first I was feeling a bit out of place at the mostly women’s meeting. But, I was made to feel welcome and soon found myself right at home among Southern Baptists who are completely sold out to missions. There were missionary testimonies and there was prayer for missionaries and the lost people of the world. There was great music by choirs and ensembles from various people groups—the entire SBC should have heard the Korean Pastors’ Wives Ensemble singing “Tell Me the Story of Jesus” in their native tongue and in English.
Also on Monday night, Frank Page addressed his first crowd as the newly elected President/CEO of the Executive Committee of the SBC. Just moments before the evening session, Page received the majority vote of the SBC Executive Committee to replace Morris Chapman in that important role. I think he spoke Monday night with a renewed sense of responsibility. It was a special privilege to be present for that moment.
TUESDAY—the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) was the big event of the day. Their report came as expected and was met with significant opposition. After more than an hour of vigorous debate and parliamentary maneuvering, I was able to make the motion I had planned to make. It was the motion that your MBC Executive Board supported in their last meeting and one that no one was surprised to hear. It had been the subject of much discussion even prior to the meeting on Tuesday. In fact, I was told numerous times on Monday and as late as Tuesday morning that my motion would be ruled out of order. I was pleasantly surprised that the President did not rule the motion out of order, but allowed me to speak to the motion and the messengers were able to vote on the motion. The motion would have referred the recommendations of the GCRTF to the SBC Executive Committee, who would have then requested that thorough research be conducted by each of the SBC entities that will be directly impacted by the recommendations. Those entities would have then reported back to the Executive Committee and the Executive Committee to the 2011 annual meeting of Southern Baptists, who then could have made a more informed decision concerning the recommendations of the GCRTF. That process would have been sensible. That process, indeed, follows the Biblical admonition to count the cost before making the far-reaching changes that will be brought about by GCR. Approximately thirty percent of the messengers agreed with me. That, of course, means that seventy percent of the messengers voted against my motion and the motion failed. GCR is now the law of the land in SBC life.
In future Pathway articles I will outline for you what that means to Missouri Baptists. Two things I can tell you now. First, I am a committed Southern Baptist, ready to follow the will of the messengers and seek to carry out the dictates of GCR in Missouri. Secondly, life and ministry in the SBC and the MBC will change, significantly. I will work hard to make the transition smooth.
WEDNESDAY—Missouri Baptists had a great impact on the SBC annual meeting on Wednesday—as our own Joe Ulveling, MBC family ministries specialist, led the convention in the benediction immediately following the annual message. Joe represented us well on that platform and I am proud of him. Earlier in that same Wednesday morning session, Jim Wells, director of missions in the Tri-County Baptist Association and MBC Executive Board member, was re-elected as SBC Registration Secretary. For Jim Wells, the annual meeting is a lot of hard work, but he is known nationwide for his Show-Me state work ethic.
For me the highlight of Wednesday was the report of the North American Mission Board (NAMB). I have only enough space left in this article to summarize it. The report was given with all kinds of statistics. We were given the numbers of lost people in North America. We were told, in fact, that three out of every four people in North America are lost—that means that three out of every four people in your town and in my town are lost and in desperate need of a word of witness from me and from you.
But we were also told about the great work of the NAMB. We met a NAMB missionary, Jalil, and one of his converts, Terik—a former Muslim who escaped the persecution of Iraq. We heard the story of an entire family, including Grandma and Grandpa, who were introduced to Jesus Christ through the God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS) outreach of a small Alabama Baptist Church. We were introduced to a young church planter—this one just happened to have been born and raised in southeast Missouri, but he is now living and planting a church in the Bronx, New York City. We met him and two young African-American men who have come to Christ and are working to take their neighborhood for Christ. One of the young men used to rule the Bronx neighborhood through intimidation and violence. Now he is seeking to extend the reign of Jesus Christ in New York City. By the end of the NAMB report, the platform was filled with people who had been touched by Jesus, through the hands of Southern Baptists. As I looked at a platform filled with an assortment of people all claiming the same Savior, I thought to myself, “It looks like a meeting of the United Nations.” The platform that night was a graphic demonstration that the nations are coming to us and our Great Commission Resurgence must contain a component that assists Missouri Southern Baptists to reach all the world—starting at home.
I came away from the 2010 annual meeting of the SBC with a renewed awareness that the lost people of Missouri are my personal responsibility. They are yours as well. Let’s get busy reaching them for Christ.