Friday, April 04, 2008

Two Conventions Contrasted

Today marks the beginning of the 6th annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, meeting at the historic Fee Fee Baptist Church in St. Louis. I drove across the state last night to be here, delaying my departure from Lee's Summit a bit after learning that the Guatemala Baptist Convention president had run into a snag with his passport and wouldn't be arriving yesterday as originally planned. Dios mediante (the Lord willing), he will be getting here at 4:05 p.m. this afternoon, just in time for our missions banquet celebration that starts at 5:00. He will miss a bit of the afternoon's proceedings, but if all goes well he will be here for the banquet and in time to bring greetings to the convention on behalf of the Guatemala Convention this evening.

As usual for the BGCM, no unusual or disturbing business is slated to occur. There will be no hotly contested elections for president or the other convention offices, as these positions in the BGCM aren't invested with any significant power and no one in the convention is seeking to wield that kind of influence anyway. Our meetings are joyful celebrations about what God is doing in and through the life of our convention as we seek to be about our First Priority--Serving Churches. We'll celebrate our partnership with Guatemala and reflect on how God has blessed many through those efforts. We'll hear some great preaching as we focus on this year's theme, "Faith in Action: Making the Most of Every Opportunity."

What we won't observe I'm quite positive is self-destructive denominational infighting and struggles for control as continues to take place in the MBC. The latest edition of the MBC's own official newspaper, The Pathway, recounts a rather tense debate that took place recently on March 27th as the nominating committee fought over a proposed restructuring of that committee in an attempt to influence the direction of the convention through nominations for the new slate of officers to be proposed during their annual meeting this fall.

On top of that, Associated Baptist Press news is reporting today that a Missouri layman is proposing in effect the re-creation of Missouri's own version of the SBC Peace Committee that met years ago to seek reconciliation between moderates and conservatives. The catch this time is that it's conservatives who are fighting against other conservatives. It has long been affirmed that fundamentalism must have an enemy to fight or the movement loses strength, and it would appear that this scenario is being played out in the life of the MBC.

I'm grateful to the Lord to be a part of a convention where our focus isn't on denominational politics and who's in control, but on the work of the Kingdom. If you're a Missouri Baptist who is tired of lawsuits against Baptist agencies or fed up with the internal squabblings of those whose methodology involves power politics, I would invite you to visit us in St. Louis today and tomorrow at the Fee Fee Baptist Church. If you can't attend personally, you can tune in via the Internet as the event will be live-streamed. Go to the BGCM website and click on the tab for the annual meeting. There you'll find a link for the live-streaming video option.

Thanks for your prayers for our gathering as we seek to serve churches.

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