RAYTOWN – Little Liam didn’t want to leave. The four-year-old was busy working on a craft and he wasn’t done yet.
“He was really concerned that I picked him up before he could finish the craft, so he was excited to get back to it today,” said Caleb Smith, pastor of Aurora Springs Baptist Church near Eldon, and father of Liam, 4, and Cade, 2. “He loves craft time and singing time.”
Smith and his wife, Melissa, utilized the free childcare provided at the 2017 Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Annual Meeting here; made possible by 20 volunteers from the Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) team.
“I grew up coming to the annual meetings and I remember sitting through the business side of it at five and six years old, so it can be done,” Smith said. “But the experience is much more refreshing when you can take your kiddos to a place that’s not only safe, but certainly more fun for them. And then you are freed up to look at the booths and catch up with friends.”
Angie Hurd, childcare coordinator for Missouri DR, said they had more than 30 children registered this year and many of them were repeat children from last year.
“A lot of the kids remembered the fun we had last year and so they were excited because they knew what to expect,” she said.
She said the team is appreciative of Sterling Acres Baptist Church in Kansas City, who hosted the volunteers who came in from from out of town.
Tommy Miller, pastor at Deer Creek Church in Cuba, said though he would still come to the annual meeting if childcare wasn’t available, it would make things a lot more difficult. His wife, Stacey, works full-time so he has his 9-month-old son, Henry, most days.
“I definitely think people should take advantage,” he said. “It’s so much less stressful because you know when you drop off your kids they are safe with trained people and unless a person has the credentials, they don’t get access.”
Miller loves the pastor’s conference and listening to the “big-caliber preachers” each year at the annual meeting.
“We as pastors preach week after week so to be able to sit and listen and get poured into is a big deal,” he said. “I also enjoy learning about different ministry programs and opportunities and talking with other pastors and the responsibility of kiddos, though wonderful to have, can be a distraction when you are trying to experience everything the annual meeting has to offer.”
Though he personally understands the ministry demands and time restraints of a pastor or layperson with a young family, Smith still recommends the annual meeting and pastors’ conference to be set aside as a time of refreshment and encouragement.
“I’ve been able to hear good preaching that strengthens me for ministry, make connections with more experienced pastors who can answer questions and offer wisdom, and participate in the workings of our state convention to continue our legacy of Gospel-centered focus and missions,” he said. “And all this has taken place in three days.”