First-time attendee shares experience at state convention annual meetingcomment (0)
November 21, 2013
By Rick Sharp
When I was asked to record some of my impressions from attending my first Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting, I thought, “Grab some pamphlets, grab some trinkets, grab some candy and doughnuts (biggie), sit through some business updates and listen to some really good Southern Baptist preaching. Sure, I can do that.” And so I did.
I tell you honestly, the annual meeting is so much more.
Held at Whitesburg Baptist Church, Huntsville, the 2013 annual meeting was a tour de force of spiritual regeneration. As expected, the preaching was amazing — powerful, convicting, uplifting, motivating — the kind of preaching that seems almost a lost art in today’s environment of expository teaching. Don’t get me wrong; I love expository preaching. But sometimes it’s good to see the pastor — red-faced and pounding on the pulpit — reminding us in no uncertain terms of what God expects of us. It’s the stuff I grew up on and in Huntsville, I saw and heard some of the best.
How was the music? I’m glad you asked. As a musician, member of the contemporary praise and worship band at Central Baptist Church, Decatur, and music reviewer for The Alabama Baptist, I have some pretty specific ideas about today’s church music. Tuesday night’s service — with the combined choirs of the Alabama Singing Men, Alabama Singing Women, Whitesburg Baptist Choir and led by Charles Billingsley — was some of the best praise and worship music I’ve ever heard. Contemporary? Blended? Traditional? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that the entire sanctuary was brought to the throne of the Almighty God in true worship. I’m pretty sure there was no dissention among the congregants as to whether it was too loud, too contemporary, too traditional, too ... whatever. It was pure worship and I found myself, tears streaming down my face, praising my Eternal God for His magnificence and His glory. Looking around I wasn’t the only one. Even I could have preached after that.
The business updates, surprisingly, were another high point for me. Dedicated, godly and highly skilled men and women took on the task of updating the rank and file on the goings-on of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and convention entities, and I for one thought they all did an outstanding job. As a fairly new Baptist, I knew about the various ministries supported by the Cooperative Program. But this was my first opportunity to hear firsthand from the dedicated men and women leading those ministries, how those programs are impacting our world, our country, our state and our localities. All Baptists should attend this annual meeting and come away, as I did, with an enhanced understanding of what we do and why we do it.
Oh yeah. Trinkets, doughnuts, candy, pamphlets. I think I was caught, maybe more than once, slipping into the exhibit hall to filch a piece (or two) of candy, maybe a doughnut and coffee, and spend a little time talking with the people manning the booths. Even here, or maybe especially here, a lot of good information was available about the work of the various ministries supported by the Alabama Baptist State Convention. Good information, good conversation and good candy and trinkets. What’s not to love?
As a first-time convention attendee, let me encourage — no, implore — you to make every effort to attend the annual meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. You’ll come away better informed, better equipped and topped off with a renewed zeal for what Alabama Baptists are doing to change a lost world.