Meeting to focus on unity of Master, mission and message
Published October 11, 2007
DAYTONA BEACH (FBC)—The 146th Annual Meeting of the Florida Baptist State Convention promises to be a time for Florida Baptists "to conduct business, renew fellowship, be encouraged and equipped, and to have our hearts stirred through the preaching of God's word and glorious worship," said State Convention President Willy Rice.
The theme of the Nov. 12-13 meeting at the Daytona Beach's Ocean Convention Center, is "We Are Better Together," based on Philippians 1:4-5, "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now."
Rice said he selected the theme for this year because, "the very reason we exist as a convention is that we fundamentally believe we are better together. There are things we can do together that no one church can do alone. Our partnership is not based or coercion, control, or centralized authority. It is based on a shared mission and a cooperative spirit.
He continued, "There are forces at work today to try to divide and distract Baptists from our primary mission. We cannot allow methodological differences, generational gaps, or stylistic preferences to divide us. We need each other and we truly are better when we are together."
The meeting has a "practical purpose but it is also has a spiritual purpose," explained Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater. "Practically speaking there is business that needs to be transacted, and reports that need to be given."
"But that is only part of what an annual convention is about. We need spiritual renewal, encouragement and equipping. Our work is monumental and often daunting, so we need to encourage one another and I pray our meeting will do just that."
Rice said the convention will generate the topics of discussion and interest, "but to the degree that we can set the tone, I hope to focus on the things that unite us: our mission, our message and our Master. We must be united on the fundamental essentials, yet cooperative in our spirit and partnership. We have invited a wonderful variety of speakers from across our state and convention. I believe every pastor and layperson will be strengthened and encouraged by this year's convention."
Southern Baptist Convention president Frank Page will set the climate for the meeting as the first scheduled speaker during the first session Monday night.
Pastor of the 4,400 member First Baptist Church of Taylors, S.C., Page was re-elected in June to a second term as SBC president and is a much sought after speaker for revivals, Bible conferences and evangelism training. Each Sunday, the Taylors Church draws more than 2,300 persons to worship and more than 1,800 to Sunday school.
The President's Message will follow Page's sermon. Rice, a fourth generation Floridian, has served the Clearwater church since 2004, where as a young man he responded to God's call to the ministry. He previously served churches in Florida and Alabama. Under his leadership, Calvary has been a leader in baptisms each year and draws several thousand persons each week to Sunday School and worship.
Orlando pastor David Uth, will conclude the Monday night session. Uth began serving First Baptist Church in 2005, coming to that position from First Baptist Church of West Monroe and other pastorates in Arkansas and Texas. In 2006, the church baptized 384 new Christian believers and led all Florida Baptist churches in Cooperative Program giving.
Worship on Monday will be led by the combined church choirs of Calvary and First Indian Rocks in Largo.
Tim Passmore, pastor of Woodland Baptist Church in Bradenton, will preach the convention sermon during the Tuesday morning session. Under his leadership, the Woodland church has grown to 2,175 members from 350, baptizing 174 new Christians in 2006. Previously Passmore served churches in Jacksonville and Gulf Breeze.
During this session, reports will be heard and business will be transacted, including the election of president and first vice president. Rice is eligible for re-election to a second term as Convention president.
John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention since 1988, will preach during the Tuesday afternoon session. The Committee on Order of Business annually requests Sullivan to speak during the convention meeting.
The Tuesday night session will conclude the meeting with preaching from Leroy Gainey and Forrest Pollock and music by Florida Baptist Worship Choir and Orchestra.
In much demand as a speaker nationally, Gainey serves as professor of educational leadership at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., a post he has held since 1987. In addition to his seminary teaching responsibilities, Gainey serves as pastor of First Baptist Church, Vacaville, Calif.
One of Florida Baptists' own, Pollock was named pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon in 2002, after having served churches in Louisiana and Texas. Currently the Brandon church's average attendance is more than 3,100 persons and 2,300 participating in Bible fellowship ministry. Pollock has guided the church to be a leading Florida Baptist church in baptism, baptizing 370 new converts in 2006.
Throughout the two days, several Florida Baptist pastors will give testimonies of God working among their congregations. These include: John Cross, South Biscayne Baptist Church, North Port; David Hughes, Church by the Glades, Coral Springs; Bill Losasso, Pathways Community Church, Largo; Erik Cummings, New Life Baptist Church, Carol City; and Augusto Valverde, pastor Resurreccion Bautista Iglesia, Miami.
Messengers will be asked to consider several items of business throughout the meeting, including a number of recommendations from the State Board of Missions, a $41 million Cooperative Program budget for 2008 and a slate of nominees to serve as trustees of Florida Baptist Convention's agencies and institutions.
Any Florida Baptist can serve as a Convention messenger. Each cooperating Florida Baptist church will be sent a quantity of messenger registration cards, based on the church's membership. These cards are to be issued to church members who have been elected by their church to serve as a messenger to the State Convention meeting. The church moderator or clerk must sign and date the card. This card is to be given to the respective messenger who must personally present the card to the State Convention registration desk, located in the west foyer of the Ocean Convention Center.
The Ocean Center is location at 101 N. Atlantic Ave. Registration will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.
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