Highlighting the theme of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s 2017 annual meeting, convention president Cameron McGill said, “there is an eerie similarity between what’s going on in Zechariah’s day and what’s going on in our day,” although 2,500 years separate us.
McGill delivered the annual president’s address to messengers in Greensboro’s Koury Convention Center, during the Nov. 6 evening session. The theme, “Return to Me” was drawn from Zechariah 1:3, “Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.”
BR photo by Steve Cooke
“The only hope for a hopeless culture and the only help for a helpless people is in the name that is above every name – the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Cameron McGill during his president’s address at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in November.
Explaining the context of the scripture passage, McGill said the Hebrew people had been in exile for 70 years. Returning to their city, they said, “This doesn’t look like the Jerusalem that we remember.” The walls of the city had crumbled; the temple lay in ruins. “There was hopelessness in the land … and helpless among God’s people.”
In a similar manner, some of us may say, “The America that I remember when I was a boy or when I was a girl is far different than the America I see today,” McGill said. A photograph appeared on a screen in the convention hall showing the Peace Cross, a public monument in Bladensburg, Md.
Built in 1929 to honor four World War I veterans, the structure was ruled unconstitutional by the courts and scheduled for demolition soon. McGill lamented the fact that some would be so offended as to demand its removal – an attitude that was not acceptable 70 years ago.
Another scene of tall piles of garbage on the streets of New York City displayed behind the convention president. McGill said his church family has a partnership with a church in New York. In a recent visit to the city, he saw a large cross discarded in the trash pile. Not knowing the reason it was abandoned, he speculated about its history and shared thoughts that raced through his mind when he first spotted the cross on the trash heap.
“I began thinking about churches,” he said, “while they meet week in and week out, … they sing their songs and they hold their meetings, and they have their votes, [but] they have literally abandoned the cross of Christ. They’ve become nothing more than a business conducting business, instead of realizing we’re about Kingdom business and the things of eternity.
“The only hope for a hopeless culture and the only help for a helpless people is in the name that is above every name – the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” he proclaimed.
The central focus of Zechariah 1:3 is two-fold, McGill said. It includes an invitation from the Lord, “Return to me,” and a promise from the Lord, “I will return to you.”
The invitation calls Christians to refocus, revision and renew.
“We need a fresh vision,” he said. Just as our vision for our children matures as they grow, “Our vision for our church should be constantly maturing.” He cautioned the messengers to not lose focus and to not “get spread thin” in the busy schedule of church activities.
The promise from the Lord, “I will return to you,” is a promise of rest, restoration and revival, said McGill.
“What is it going to take for God to get our attention and to remind us how much He loves us and to remind us about the great plan He has for us?”
At the close of the sermon, McGill invited J.D. Greear on stage, describing their friendship since McGill was in kindergarten and Greear was in the first grade at the same school.
Greear is pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham. He compared their ministries saying Greear pastors “one of the largest churches not only in our state, but in our country. I pastor a church in a town with no stoplight.”
He encouraged pastors to be faithful in the location God has placed them. “Pastors, my prayer is that when you go back [to your church], He has restored a love in your heart for your people no matter how cantankerous they can be at times. No matter if you are in a town of 2 million or 200, you would realize the preciousness of the call of God on your life.”
Throughout the sermon, McGill interspersed the music of the worship team from the churches he serves at Dublin First Baptist Church and The Lake Church at White Lake. The musicians’ songs included, “Be thou my vision,” “Open the eyes of my heart” and “God of this city.”
Tabitha Mesina, joined the team as a soloist.
Mesina is from the southern Moldova village of Vadul Lui Isac where Dublin First Baptist has maintained a five-year ministry partnership.