ST. LOUIS — The familiar downtown setting of the Millennium Hotel will be the location for the 178th annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Oct. 29-31.
With a theme of “Gratitude” out of Psalm 107:1, the gathering will feature nationally known speakers and singers scheduled in and around the business sessions as well as several benedictions and invocations by bi-vocational pastors.
“Missouri Baptists have a lot to be grateful to God for,” MBC Executive Director John Yeats said. “We have such a great heritage of biblical faith from our forefathers in Baptist life. Today we’re grateful for every pastor and every church who believe in the value of cooperative ministry. This year’s annual meeting, above all else, is an opportunity to celebrate the handiwork of God.”
The headliner at 10:40 a.m. Oct. 31 will be Dennis Swanberg, a comedian and former Baptist pastor from Monroe, La., billed as “America’s Minister of Encouragement.”
The two speakers Oct. 30 will be Tony Merida, lead pastor of Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, N.C., and Bill Hull, a discipleship evangelist and former Evangelical Free Church pastor from Long Beach, Calif. Both will be focusing on helping leaders apply the MBC’s core values of becoming disciples, developing leaders, and missional living.
On Oct. 29, the main speakers will be John Marshall, two-year MBC president and pastor of Second Baptist Church, Springfield, and Yeats.
Kenny Qualls, pastor, First Baptist Church, Arnold, and a former MBC president, is scheduled to deliver the convention sermon at 11:35 a.m. Oct. 30.
Selah, a contemporary Christian worship group, will sing Oct. 30 during the day and also perform in concert in the evening session. At various times MBC regional worship leaders will lead messengers in song and provide special music, as will Second Springfield musicians.
Messengers and visitors who are not staying at the Millennium will be able to park for $6 for up to 12 hours in the parking garage across from the hotel.
Comedian Swanberg sure to have messengers in stitches
ST. LOUIS – Missouri Baptists’ annual meeting won’t be all business if Dennis Swanberg has anything to say about it.
Swanberg, a well-known Christian comedian and former pastor, will add a little levity to the proceeding during the morning session Oct. 31.
Calling himself “America’s minister of encouragement,” Swanberg speaks to 250,000 people a year in churches, marriage enrichment seminars, concerts and corporate gatherings. He hosts “Swan’s Place” and “The Dennis Swanberg Show” on TBN, viewed by one million households weekly. A pastor before going into full-time “encouragement ministry,” Swanberg earned his bachelor’s degree in Greek and religion from Baylor University before earning an M.Div. and D.Min from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Swanberg is also adept at impressions. Messengers to the Annual Meeting can expect to hear Barney Fife from the Andy Griffith Show, Mr. Haney of Green Acres, Walter Brennan, Howard Cosell, Muhammad Ali, Ronald Reagan, Billy Graham, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Forrest Gump, Slim Pickins, John Wayne, Ross Perot, Jimmy Stewart, Bert and Ernie and a host of other Sesame Street characters and more.
“Of all people Christians have more reason for joy and laughter than any other,” Swanberg says on his website, focusing on Psalm 126: “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, The LORD has done great things for them. The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy”
“Because our Savior lives, joy and laughter can flow from our grateful hearts,” he said. “I try to bring people laughter, but my advice to them is always that joy is a choice. Happiness is dependent upon what happens in your life, but joy is a choice you can make every single day. It takes an act of your will … even if you don’t feel joyful at the moment. And it takes dying to yourself and coming alive in the lives of others around you. I want to motivate my audiences to have courage, to be strong, to look for the moments in life that make them realize they are an important part of this world. Do your best to go out there risking. We live in a world where you can afford to fail and try again. I want people to realize that this is a great life to enjoy. And the one way you can enjoy life is by helping other people enjoy it too.”
Pastor, professor, author Merida to speak
ST. LOUIS – Pastor, professor, and author Tony Merida will speak at the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Annual Meeting Oct. 30 during one of the “CORE” sessions on the schedule.
Merida is the founder and pastor for preaching and vision at Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, S.C.
He also serves as associate professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and previously as dean of the chapel and assistant professor of preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned his master’s in theology and Ph. D. in preaching.
Merida has written two books — Orphanology and Faithful Preaching, as well as numerous articles.
Orphanology is a practical response to God’s command to care for the fatherless told through the stories of families and ministries who are responding. Orphanology extends the call to minister to the nearly 150 million orphans in the world with real-world ideas and illustrations for engaging in orphan ministry. With concrete ideas for how Christians, their churches, and groups of churches can respond tangibly to God’s call to care for the fatherless, Orphanology demonstrates how adoption, foster care, and other forms of orphan ministry are accessible to every believer and every church and introduces innovative approaches to orphan ministry including orphan hosting.
Faithful Preaching answers two basic questions: what is a preacher and what is preaching? In the book, Merida argues that faithful preaching is the responsible, passionate, and authentic declaration of the Christ-exalting Scriptures, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of the Triune God. The book argues faithful preachers will usher the people through the text passionately and authentically, pointing them to Christ.
Tony and his wife, Kimberly, have five children.
First Arnold’s Qualls to offer convention sermon
ST. LOUIS – Kenny Qualls, pastor of nearby First Baptist Church, Arnold, will deliver the convention sermon at the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) annual meeting Oct. 30 at 11:35 a.m.
A native of Springfield, Qualls entered into a personal relationship with Jesus as a freshman in college in 1981, and entered into full-time ministry in 1990 as pastor of Springhill Baptist Church in his hometown. He pastored there 22 years and saw the church’s Sunday morning worship service attendance grow from 22 to more than 800.
Qualls is no stranger to Missouri Southern Baptists. He has served on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, and was chairman of the MBC Executive Director Search Committee. Qualls served as both vice president and president of the MBC. In 2002, he stepped down as MBC president and Springhill’s pastor to join the MBC executive board staff as associate executive director/Church and Family Equipping. In 2005, he came to Arnold to pastor First Baptist Church, one of the larger congregations in the MBC.
He and his wife, Donna, who is on the board of trustees for the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, have two children.
‘Disipleship/evangelist’ Hull headlines CORE session
ST. LOUIS – Bill Hull, discipleship evangelist and prolific author based in Long Beach, Calif., will speak to the Missouri Baptist Convention Annual Meeting messengers Oct. 30 during one of the “CORE” sessions on the schedule.
Hull’s passion is to help the church return to its disciple-making roots and he considers himself a “discipleship evangelist,” but it is in the pages of his books where his ministry has multiplied over of the years. Hull’s three “biggest” books, Jesus Christ: Disciple maker, The Disciple-Making Pastor and The Disciple-Making Church offer a trilogy on his passion.
“Christ commanded the church to make disciples, to produce people who love and obey God, bear fruit, and live with joy,” Hull says on his website. “The crisis at the heart of the church is that we often pay lip service to making disciples, but we seldom put much effort behind doing it.”
Ministry Wives Luncheon centers in on prayer
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor
ST. LOUIS — The personal nature of God at work in the lives of women through the ministry of the Holy Spirit will be evident here Oct. 30 in the Ministry Wives Luncheon at the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) annual meeting.
The fellowship luncheon is being planned for around 12:30 p.m. immediately following the morning session in the Choteau Room of the Millennium Hotel. Cost is $20 per person (pre-registered) or $25 per person if you register at the booth. The speaker is Rhonda Hufty, who has led retreats on prayer.
“I do want it to be something where God comes down and touches each and every heart,” said Cindy Taylor, president of the Ministry Wives Task Force. “It won’t happen to every woman, but there’s going to be women in that luncheon who will have an ‘aha’ moment. That’s just how the Holy Spirit works.”
The theme for the gathering comes from 2 Cor. 4:7, where we are assured that we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not us. Taylor said she has been thinking about that verse for a year, both before and after the May 29 death of her second husband Gary Taylor, the late MBC state evangelism director. She lost her first husband, Keith Johns, a Missouri Baptist pastor, in 2006.
“It’s through our prayers and learning our Scriptures and memorizing that we find that surpassing power of God, or that Holy Spirit that fills this empty jar of me,” she said. “God really laid that on my heart about a year ago. It’s been a great experience to be able to learn what God has for me.”
Evidence Sings, a group comprised of four women from First Baptist Church, Harvester in St. Charles, will be on hand to provide encouragement through music. In all things during the luncheon Taylor’s prayer is that the women would be led by the Holy Spirit into a deeper spiritual walk with God the Father.
“Paul says to praise God no matter what,” she said. “There’s something to that.
“I feel like there is some kind of spiritual renewal going through the land, and I feel like it’s important that we examine ourselves and really, truly get down and say, ‘Lord, what am I missing? What’s it like to yield to another person? What does it look like to be pure in heart? What does it look like to love my brother like I need to love my brother or my neighbor like I need to love my neighbor? Do I have anything in my heart, Lord, that I need to get right with another person or with You?’”
Taylor said she would like to thank the members of the Ministry Wives Task Force for allowing her to serve the last two years as president.
“It’s been a great experience,” she said.
Selah, Second Springfield head music for convention
SUSAN MIRES/contributing writer
ST. LOUIS – Selah will return to share a worship experience at the annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
The musical group known for their beautiful renditions of familiar hymns will perform during the morning and afternoon sessions Oct. 30. They will also give a concert at 6:30 p.m. that day at the beginning of the evening session.
Selah participated in the 2008 annual meeting, which was also held in St. Louis. The vocal group is composed of Todd Smith, Allan Hall, and Amy Perry.
The trio has earned numerous Dove Awards and No. 1 singles. Their debut album “Be Still My Soul” helped initiate a revival of traditional hymns. Their hits include “Wonderful, Merciful Savior,” “You Raise Me Up,” and “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.”
Their latest album is a celebration of hope and a testimony to the group’s desire to share stories of hope with broken people through music.
Another musical highlight of the annual meeting will be led by Kevin Hawkins, worship pastor at Second Baptist Church, Springfield. The church is pastored by John Marshall, convention president.
Hawkins was the choral director and music department head for Glendale High School in Springfield from 1997-2009. His choirs were selected to perform for five state music conventions and the 2005 National American Choral Directors Association convention in Los Angeles.
The Second Baptist orchestra and choir will perform Oct. 29 at the annual meeting. During the remaining days of the meeting, regional worship leaders from around the state will lead congregational singing.
Franks to be up for MBC 1st VP
ST. JOSEPH — Neil Franks, pastor, First Baptist Church, Branson, will be nominated for the office of first vice president of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) by Micah Fries, pastor, Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church, St, Joseph.
Fries has held the office of MBC second vice president for the last two years and had been planning on running for first vice president before he resigned Oct. 7 to take a position with LifeWay Christian Resources effective Nov. 1. He said Franks is well qualified to be elected in large part because he is a state leader in missions, church planting and evangelism.
“Neil is committed to reaching Branson,” Fries said. “In the 5+ years he has served as the pastor of First Branson, he has led them from approximately 500 in worship to over 1,100 on a regular basis. Beyond that they have initiated multiple city-wide outreaches which meet physical needs in the local schools, serving homeowners in need and providing food at the holidays.”
One of his accomplishments in recent years has been the establishment of the church’s Tom Fish Center for Church Planting, in partnership with the MBC and the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Through this center the church is now developing eight church planting teams.
Franks has also led the church to develop their “Mission and Me” initiative which is raising $100,000 a year for missions efforts around the world. They also are partnering with the Lacy Seminary in Oaxaca, Mexico, to train and deploy indigenous church planters.
Franks deeply loves and is committed to his family. He is originally from Arkansas and has been married to his wife, Kendra, for 18 years now. Together they have two sons, Nathan and Travis.
Pathway exhibit to offer messengers free copies of the U.S. Constitution
ST. LOUIS – Missouri Southern Baptists who stop by The Pathway exhibit at this year’s annual meeting will be offered a free copy of the U.S. Constitution.
The small booklet is chock-full of facts about our nation’s governing document and Founding Fathers.
“The Constitution is certainly the most influential legal document in existence,” said Pathway Editor Don Hinkle, who is also director of public policy for the Missouri Baptist Convention. “Since its creation some 200 years ago, more than 100 countries around the world have used it as a model for their own. Every citizen should carefully examine its words, especially in these challenging days that confront America.”
The booklet also contains an index and a glossary explaining some of the terminology, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and fascinating facts about the U.S. Supreme Court.
‘Gospel Advance’ is the theme for Pastors’ Conference
BRIAN KOONCE/staff writer
ST. LOUIS – Nationally known pastors and one of Missouri’s own will team together for “Gospel Advance,” the theme of the 2012 Missouri Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference Oct. 29 at the Millennium Hotel.
Jared Hamilton, lead pastor at Missouri Valley Baptist Church in St. Joseph, kicks off the conference at 9 a.m. A graduate of Southwest Baptist University, Hamilton leads Missouri Valley “to conform to the authority of Scripture in church governance, leadership and reformission life.” His passion is challenging men to transform to the image of Christ for the glory of God.
Virginia Pastor Eric Thomas will speak second. He is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Norfolk. In addition to pastoring, Thomas served on the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) resolutions and nominating committees and served last year as the SBC second vice president.
Next up will be Thom Rainer, president and chief executive officer of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, Rainer served as the dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He served as pastor of churches in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Indiana and is author of more than 23 books, including Simple Church, Transformational Church, and The Millennials.
Following him is Bob Roberts. Roberts is the founder and senior pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas. Through his leadership, NorthWood has planted 130 churches in the U.S. He frequently teaches courses on church planting, church growth, church multiplication, community transformation and international development at seminaries and universities around the globe.
Tony Merida will kick off the afternoon session at 1:50. Merida serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C. and as associate professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lake Forest, N.C. He is also slated to speak at the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) annual meeting the next day.
Next up will be Bryan Chapell, who is chancellor and professor of practical theology of Covenant Theological Seminary here. He served as a pastor for 10 years before coming to Covenant Seminary in 1985. He is the author of many articles and numerous books, including Christ-Centered Preaching.
Wrapping up the conference will be Johnny Hunt. Hunt is the long-time pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga. He has earned a reputation of putting others first through Timothy + Barnabas mentoring ministry. Hunt also was elected president of the SBC in 2008 and 2009 and was instrumental in the Great Commission Resurgence movement.
Schedule for the 2012 MBC Pastors’ Conference
8:35 Welcome & Prayer
8:55 Speaker Intro
9:00 Jared Hamilton
9:50 Speaker Intro
9:55 Eric Thomas
10:45 Speaker Intro
10:50 Thom Rainer
11:30 Speaker Intro
11:35 Bob Roberts
12:10 Lunch Break
1:45 Speaker Intro
1:50 Tony Merida
2:25 Election of Officers
2:50 Speaker Intro
2:55 Bryan Chappel
3:45 Speaker Intro
3:50 Johnny Hunt
4:25 New Officers Introduction