Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Final Post From Indy

The 151st Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is history.

This morning’s session began with a surprising announcement regarding the election of the Second Vice President. Balloting took place last evening to choose between four candidates, which had been nominated for that position. An old friend of ours, John Newland was among those nominated. John is pastor of the Fall Creek Baptist Church here in Indianapolis, and formerly served at First Baptist Church of Grayson, KY, while working on his doctorate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The nominating speeches for John and two of the other candidates were rather non remarkable in their nature. However, the guy who nominated the fourth candidate, Charles Mulkey, hit the ball out of the park! It was one of the most humorous nominating speeches I have ever heard, and rivaled the one given to nominate Wiley Drake in his successful run for the same office in Greensboro two years ago.

John had gained some national publicity during the run up to the 2007 Super Bowl, when the NFL threatened legal action against the Fall Creek Church if they continued with plans to show the game on a big screen in their church during a special Super Bowl evangelistic event the night of the game. What they were planning was the same thing that many churches have done in the past, but for some reason the Fall Creek Church happened to draw the wrath of the NFL Commissioner. John handled the matter with grace and Christian love and although the church had to change their plans, he was a great witness under difficult circumstances. I believe his Christ like reaction and behavior was a big reason that the NFL relaxed the policy for the 2008 game.

As we left the hall last night, I ran into my fellow NOBTS Trustee, Donald Currence, who heads up the Tellers (who count all the ballots). Don asked, “Did they make the announcement about the 2nd VP results?” When I replied in the negative he grinned and said, “I would love to tell you, but I am sworn to secrecy on all of these results until they are announced in the convention hall.”

“Did Newland win?”, I asked, hoping he might give me a little hint.

“Can’t do it. I’m sorry” he smiled. (Don is indeed a man of integrity)

So I did not know the results until this morning. It seems that Mulkey and John Newland finished in an actual dead heat. A tie vote! Ballots were again cast, and I am pleased to announce that John won with 58% of the vote. This leaves the three top elected officials with a definite Kentucky flavor. John is a native of the Bluegrass State and served a pastorate here. First VP, Bill Henard, serves as Pastor of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington. New President Johnny Hunt’s father was living in Pikeville, KY a few years ago (but I am not certain if he is still there).

I have written on this blog concerning the business sessions, reports, etc. along with reports about the music and preaching, but I want to say a few words about the spirit of the meeting. The messengers conducted themselves with dignity and courtesy. In last year’s meeting in San Antonio, there was an obvious spirit of contention and division. There had been a touch of that the year before, in Greensboro. That, along with the unusually large number of candidates for President, gave me a sense of foreboding coming into this meeting.

Would our Convention become more divided? Over the past couple of years there have been some pretty divisive things written and said, regarding personalities and certain doctrinal differences. If there was a problem this year, I didn’t sense it. For the most part, I feel that this was a calm convention with a good spirit exhibited by its messengers.

The focus of this meeting was (rightfully) on nothing but Jesus, and the task He has given us to reach the world with the Gospel. Missions was the theme from day one. Calls to brokenness and obedience to the mission were made from the Pastor’s Conference on Sunday and Monday until the final gavel fell on Wednesday night. We all agree that there is need for revival among God’s people, and an urgency to get the Gospel out to every people group.

It would be nice to see more and more younger people taking an active role in these proceedings, but I do believe we are making headway on that issue.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was in regard to some “unwelcome” visitors that showed up across Maryland Street from the Convention Center. A group of protesters from Fred Phelps “church” of Westboro, KS were on hand to protest and heckle the messengers. This is the same bunch who carry signs proclaiming “God Hates Fags”, and show up at the funerals of America’s war dead, to claim that those who have given their lives for freedom were killed as part of God’s judgement on sinful America. These people spew hate and bigotry, and obviously know nothing about Grace! To call them a church is a travesty.

I’ll be heading home tomorrow morning, and praying for safe travel along the way.
To my dear members at WBC, I want to thank you for allowing me to get away for a few days to “re-charge my batteries”. I do feel a new sense of urgency to get this Kingdom Business Son. To my Dad and Rick Weber I offer my thanks for filling in for me in my pulpit duties on Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services. To my “Sweet Baboo”, I’ll see you tomorrow – Lord Willing!

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