This week, I have the distinct honor to represent our JCBC family at the 25th General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Each General Assembly is meaningful, but this gathering is particularly special, as it marks our 25th year of sharing in ministry and missions with sister congregations from across the nation and world.
This year, the General Assembly will welcome Dr. Thomas Long, and Dr. Diana Butler-Bass as keynote speakers. Long and Bass are both extraordinary thought-leaders and exceptional preachers. The focal passage of the week is taken from 2 Corinthians 5- “Christ’s love compels us.” We will consider how for more than 25 years all that we have attempted to do together in Christ has been because of the compelling love of God moving within us. That same love animates and motivates all we do at JCBC as well. I am eager to see how we honor this great text this week, at this great gathering.
Among the multiple presentations, workshops, break out sessions, and worship services available, I will be particularly eager to take part in events such as these…
- The Leadership Institute – Today (Wednesday) the afternoon will be spent with hundreds of pastors and other church leaders, as we consider the sobering challenges facing the church today. In an increasingly multicultural and religiously pluralistic age, there are some challenges the church has never faced before. The rise of the “nones” (those who embrace no religious affiliation, and prefer it that way) presents extraordinary possibilities for the church. Today, with Dr. Thomas Long’s help, we will turn to the New Testament letters of Paul for guidance.
- The New Baptist Covenant Luncheon – Many of you will remember the great gathering in Atlanta a few years ago. I was in attendance at the first “New Baptist Covenant” celebration, where a diverse body of multiple Baptist denominations gathered for the purpose of racial reconciliation, and devotion to ministries of justice and service to the poor. On Thursday, I will attend a special New Baptist Covenant Luncheon, where Dr. Bill Leonard (Professor of Baptist Studies at Wake Forest Divinity School) and Reverend Darryl Aaron (Senior Pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC) lead us in a personal and pastoral dialogue on racial reconciliation within the Baptist experience.
- Baptist Center for Ethics Breakfast – Celebrating their own 25th anniversary, the BCE will host a breakfast on Friday, reviewing the extraordinary work of this group, and previewing their soon to be released film “Disturbances.” This groundbreaking documentary tells the story of the 1966 tribal genocide in Nigeria, and the untold stories of how a wide range of missionaries and nationals struggled and worked together to survive.
- Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty Luncheon – One of the highlights of General Assembly, each year is the BJC Luncheon. The mission of the BJC is to defend and extend religious liberty for all people. It is one organization whose purpose is to honor our long-held Baptist principals of religious freedom and separation of church and state. This year, we will celebrate their work, and honor the long and faithful service of Brent Walker, who has led as Executive Director for 27 years. Brent is a personal friend, whose service to the cause of religious liberty is extraordinary.
Beyond these and many other official gatherings, there will be countless connections and conversations around coffee with colleagues who love Christ, and who are devoted to the Lord’s church.
I look forward to sharing what amazing things God is doing in us and with us at JCBC. I hope to be an encouragement to others who are serving in churches far and near, as I know hearing of their insights and experiences will encourage me and the work that we attempt to do in Christ’s name, together at Johns Creek.
You will be proud to know that some of JCBC’s own will take an active role in the General Assembly this year. Jeff Huett, for example, is the CBF Associate Coordinator of Communications and Advancement. Ray Johnson serves on the National Nominating Committee. Bob Prator leads as Chair of the CBF Foundations Board. Also, Tim Clagg and Tom Hill lead at the state level, by serving the needs of the Georgia CBF Coordinating Council. JCBC is definitely represented well!
Please pray for the events of this week, especially remembering our children and youth who are away at camps, growing in their faith.
God is up to something good in us and around us at JCBC.
May you be keenly aware of this good news this week,
and may it make all the difference.
Johns Creek Baptist Church