I am blogging tonight from my hotel room at Tan-Tar-A resort at Lake of the Ozarks, where I am attending the annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention. A warning... If you are not a Southern Baptist and/or not from Missouri, you probably will find this post very boring. But I am writing this for my church folk (and anyone else) who couldn't be here and would like a report.
On a personal level, it has been somewhat of an eventful convention. Yesterday I was elected treasurer of the pastors' conference that precedes the annual meeting each year. That doesn't mean a lot right now, but it does mean that in three years I will be the president of the conference and will be responsible for lining up speakers and making all the arrangements. It will be a big responsibility, but I am hoping it will be fun and rewarding as well. The other officers for the pastors conference are Micah Fries (pastor of Frederick Boulevard in St. Joseph) and Phil Bray (pastor of FBC-Macon).
And then today I had the honor of leading the convention in a Scripture reading and prayer, which was a very neat and humbling experience.
The highlight of this year's convention was the installation of Dr. John Yeats as our state's new executive director. Dr. Yeats comes from Louisiana and is a highly respected leader in the Southern Baptist Convention. In Dr. Yeats' inaugural address, he shared what he believes to be the seven primary roles of a state convention. Dr. Yeats is fiery and folksy, and he will be well received by Missouri Baptists. We must pray for Dr. Yeats as he begins this new position. Missouri Baptists have been through a lot in recent years. We desperately need good leadership.
Speaking of good leadership, I was so glad that Mr. and Mrs. Jay Hughes were given a Caribbean cruise by the convention last night, for Jay's work as our interim director over the last ten months. (Jay is normally one of our associate directors.) Jay has become a good friend, and they don't come any better than him in my book. Jay provided a steady hand when things very easily could have fallen apart. Well deserved.
John Marshall has done a tremendous job of moderating the convention. Dr. Marshall is the George Washington of the MBC - known and respected by all. He has kept the meeting moving, but also lighthearted. Last night Mrs. Marshall (Ruth) helped Dr. Marshall make some presentations on the stage, and had the entire convention laughing so hard they were in tears. Some suggested that perhaps Ruth should be president. :)
One exciting measure that was approved today was a partnership between Missouri Baptists and Iowa Baptists. The history of our two state conventions is closely linked. I am told that, at one time, every Baptist church in Iowa was started by a Baptist church in Missouri. Iowa is not a traditional Southern Baptist state, and we have very few churches there. In recent times a merger has at least been kicked around between the Missouri and Iowa conventions, but for now it will simply remain a partnership. It will be fascinating to see what God does with this.
The annual meeting ends tomorrow, and then it will be time to return home. As always, I want to thank my church for paying my way to come to conventions such as this. It is a nice break and morale booster. If your church does not currently pay for your pastor to come to the state convention (hotel/meals/mileage), please consider raising the issue. It will mean a lot to him personally, and it is good for your church to have a seat at the table.
Thanks for reading.