The Cooperative Program (CP) exhibit at the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, will reflect the CP’s partnership with the North American and International mission boards, said Ashley Clayton, SBC Executive Committee (EC) vice president for Cooperative Program and Stewardship.
“The Cooperative Program is about Southern Baptists joining hearts and hands to advance the Great Commission! As Southern Baptists, we have a long-standing guiding principle that says, ‘we can do more together than we can do alone,’” Clayton said. “Whether it is church strengthening, church planting, theological education, international missions, church revitalization, collegiate ministry, disaster relief or world hunger, it is our commitment to work together through the Cooperative Program, which will make a difference in this world.”
BP file photo
Messengers and their families visit the Skybridge exhibit at the Baltimore Convention Center during the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
The exhibit will feature a diverse group of speakers including SBC leaders, missionaries, church planters and pastors focused on topics and issues relevant and timely to SBC life, but the schedule will be designed to alleviate competition with programming in the main convention hall.
Building on the success of previous annual meeting exhibits, the CP platform area will look more like a television studio than a formal stage. Interviews and panel discussions will be live-streamed and most presentations will be captured as video for posting on national and state convention websites following the annual meeting.
The exhibit will present components of the Great Commission Advance, an initiative to increase missions involvement among individuals and churches, which EC president Frank Page will address during his report June 17.
“I see a mounting urgency and a growing consensus among our pastors to advance the Gospel through SBC mission and ministries, fueled through the Cooperative Program, in our own backyard and beyond,” Page told Baptist Press. “I do not know of a better plan for any church – small, large, new, growing, graying or ethnic – to accomplish an Acts 1:8 strategy than through the Cooperative Program. Every church can stand hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, on level ground, as partners in the Gospel.”
A complete schedule of CP exhibit interviews will be available on the SBC Annual Meeting app, as well as in the daily program. The app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android users and can be downloaded by typing in “SBC Annual Meetings” in the device’s app store. Once the app is downloaded, it will prompt you to install the information for the 2015 meeting.
Reports of other entities’ and ministries’ plans for the exhibit hall during the SBC’s June 16-17 annual meeting follow:
International Mission Board & North American Mission Board
In an effort to simplify the process for churches to engage in Southern Baptist missions, this year’s convention attendees will find the North American Mission Board (NAMB), the International Mission Board (IMB) and EC at the same booth. Those who visit the booth can learn more about getting their churches involved in reaching unreached people groups internationally and in church planting in North America.
IMB: The IMB exhibit will help visitors discover how God might be calling them and their church to play their part in fulfilling Christ’s commission. The booth will feature kiosks offering information about five major global cities to show visitors how church planters, professionals, students, retirees and others are taking the hope of Christ to unreached people living there.
The exhibit’s kiosks also will provide information about how churches and individuals can join others to make disciples and multiply churches among unreached peoples for the glory of God in extreme places. In addition, IMB is equipping churches to send men, women and families to join God’s global mission in new and creative ways. Visitors will be directed to imb.org/send to explore opportunities to send and partner together in mission.
NAMB: While learning more about getting their churches involved in reaching unreached people groups overseas, visitors also can learn more about church planting in North America. In addition to IMB missionaries and staff, the exhibit will also have Send North America city missionaries, church planters and other missionaries on hand to answer questions.
Booth visitors can also find out more about the Send North America Conference, Aug. 3 and 4, in Nashville, Tenn. And Southern Baptists will be able to learn about more opportunities from NAMB and IMB during the Send North America Luncheon (noon on June 15).
LifeWay Christian Resources
The SBC Exhibit Hall will feature LifeWay’s 8,000-square-foot store offering a wide selection of books, Bibles and other Christian products. Other LifeWay areas will present interactive displays highlighting LifeWay’s church resources, conference center and camps.
Among special features of the LifeWay exhibit:
· Small group experts from LifeWay’s Resources Division will help messengers plan and select appropriate materials for small group Bible studies.
· Messengers will be able to obtain information about two free movie screenings: “War Room” on Monday night (June 15) and “Woodlawn” Tuesday evening (June 16). Information will also be available about two free breakfasts: a panel discussion about Biblical Preaching Tuesday morning and an SBC men’s breakfast Wednesday morning.
· A special story time for kids will be held in the B&H Publishing Group Kids area featuring noted children’s books read by Debbie Rodgers. Also, Veggie Tales’ Bob & Larry will be available in the LifeWay Store to greet children and have their pictures taken together.
· Book signings by numerous authors are scheduled in the LifeWay store throughout the convention including speaker and author Angie Smith; Jeff Iorg, author and seminary president; Frank S. Page, president of the EC; and former SBC presidents Jack Graham and James Merritt.
· Exhibits featuring LifeWay “OneSource” endorsed products and providers designed to give individuals and churches trusted purchasing options for items such as church signs and furniture, copiers, office supplies and background checks.
GuideStone Financial Resources
GuideStone’s Wellness Center once again will offer free health checks valued at $150, allowing messengers and family members to have their blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose measured.
In the main booth, representatives will offer reviews of participants’ retirement accounts and answer questions about GuideStone’s life and health plans, property and casualty coverage and other GuideStone services. Churches will be able to order materials for Mission:Dignity Sunday, highlighting GuideStone’s ministry to needy retired ministers and their widows.
GuideStone will offer several breakout sessions, including Compensation Planning for Smaller Churches, a one-hour session at 2 p.m. Monday. Retirement Income Solutions course will be available for one hour at both 4 p.m. Monday and 12:15 p.m. Tuesday. To answer churches’ questions regarding a July 1 deadline that could impact churches that reimburse for individual health care coverage, GuideStone will offer a one-hour session, “Health Care Reform Impacts Your Church, Too,” at 5 p.m. Tuesday. All courses are free and are located in C120. Seating is limited; advance registration is recommended by visiting GuideStone.org/SBC2015.
GuideStone will give away copies of President O.S. Hawkins’ book, “The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer,” to the first 250 families at both the Mission:Dignity display and GuideStone’s Wellness Center. GuideStone also will make available a free copy of Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook (Volume 3), edited by Hawkins, to pastors/preachers. Quantities are limited.
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Those who visit the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) booth can get equipped for the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage by picking up the first issue of the newly relaunched Light Magazine, featuring content from Russell Moore, R. Albert Mohler Jr., J.D. Greear, and Rosaria Butterfield. The theme of this issue is “Marriage Redefined?”
ERLC will be giving away a free “Cultural Engagement Bundle” of books, including the major works of Carl F.H. Henry. Register to win by signing up for the ERLC’s new email newsletter, “The Weekly” at the booth.
The ERLC will also be hosting, with 9Marks Ministries, a special event with Russell Moore and Mark Dever. “Connecting Church and Culture” will be held in the Delaware Room at the Hyatt Regency. Register for free online at erlc.com/churchandculture or get free tickets at the ERLC booth.
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s (GGBTS) booth will highlight the upcoming relocation of its main campus to southern California as well as the plans for the new commuter campus in northern California. The plans for these two buildings, which will open in summer 2016, will be displayed in the booth. Representatives of the seminary will be available to answer questions about the relocation, discuss GGBTS education programs, and sell tickets to the annual alumni and friends luncheon. To reserve your tickets now, email [email protected]
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Visitors to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (MBTS) exhibit will experience personal interaction with the school’s senior leadership, faculty and staff. In the booth, a host of new programs and initiatives will be highlighted: most notably, MBTS’s new website FTC.co, which is geared toward resourcing pastors with effective ministry tools for the church. Additionally, giveaways will include faculty-authored books as well as an all-expense paid trip for two to Midwestern Seminary’s Kansas City campus to attend the annual For the Church Conference on Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
The redesigned New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary booth highlights main campus programs, distance learning options and the new Entrust Mentoring Community initiative. The seminary enlistment team is on site to guide potential students as they seek to answer God’s call to ministry and prepare for service. Alumni are invited to visit the booth to reconnect with faculty and staff and to hear the latest news from campus. In keeping with tradition, small bottles of Louisiana hot sauce are available to those who visit.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Visitors to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SEBTS) exhibit will be welcomed by faculty and alumni to discuss and explore innovative seminary and college degree programs that train students to fulfill the Great Commission. Admissions staff will be present to provide additional information and answer questions. Convention attendees will also be given the opportunity to share how they are going and win books in the areas of biblical studies, theology, cultural engagement and pastoral ministry authored by SEBTS faculty members.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Throughout the annual meeting, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) exhibit will have a variety of giveaways providing resources for pastors. One giveaway is a new resource by SBTS Press: A Guide to Church Revitalization, featuring chapters by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Kevin Ezell, Mark Dever and others.
Along with promotions and interaction opportunities with seminary faculty, the seminary also will distribute the latest issue of Southern Seminary Magazine. Themed around missions in a world of risk, the magazine features articles by President R. Albert Mohler Jr., IMB vice president Zane Pratt and seminary faculty.
Convention attendees can connect with alumni, professors, friends and prospective students at the exhibit’s seating area, as well as purchase tickets for the annual alumni luncheon on Wednesday, June 17. For more information, go to sbts.edu/alumni/sbc-luncheon.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) will reflect its ongoing passion for preaching the Word and reaching the world. Free books and resources – including a guide to landmarks and restaurants in Columbus – will be distributed, and SWBTS representatives and faculty will be available to discuss the seminary’s programs and answer questions. The booth will also feature several seminary-produced videos highlighting successful students and SWBTS’s global impact. Visitors will have the opportunity to take pictures with the words “preach the Word” and “reach the world” and post them on Twitter. For every picture tweeted, $1 will be donated to NAMB or IMB.
Woman’s Missionary Union
This year, national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) will showcase four distinct ways to be involved in missions at their exhibit: ongoing WMU missions discipleship programs for preschoolers, children, youth and adults; hands-on missions opportunities sponsored by WMU; fair-trade products from WorldCrafts; and Bible studies and books on missional living from New Hope Publishers.
New Hope Publishers is partnering with WMU to tell the story of radical commitment to God’s mission and will feature new 2015 spring and summer releases as well as an advanced reader sampler of the upcoming “Upside Down Living” release from Andrew Mann, pastor of Graffiti 2 Ministries in New York City. New Hope is also featuring the work of several SBC leaders including Frank S. Page and Jeff Iorg who both will sign books at the LifeWay Christian Store on-site.
WorldCrafts, a fair-trade division of WMU, develops sustainable businesses among impoverished people around the world. A member of the Fair Trade Federation, WorldCrafts partners with dozens of artisans groups to import and sell hundreds of handcrafted items from more than 25 countries around the globe. Many of the artisan groups WorldCrafts partners with are working to free women from human exploitation and sex trafficking. A total of $1,300 in prizes also will be given away through 12 different giveaways.
Baptist Global Response
“Helping Them Write a New Story” will be the focus of the Baptist Global Response (BGR) exhibit. Visitors to the booth will be able to explore six ways to help people in need write new chapters in their lives.
The exhibit will feature six stations that show ways BGR helps people who care connect with people in need: healthcare, agriculture, water, widows and orphans, human trafficking and disaster response. The focus draws on BGR’s gift catalog, which will be available at the booth and at LifeWay’s store in the exhibit hall. BGR’s catalog, annual report and prayer guide are available at gobgr.org. The organization facilitates, on behalf of Southern Baptists, more than 300 projects in over 50 countries that help people with the basics of life, such as food, water and shelter.
The Southern Baptist Foundation
The Southern Baptist Foundation’s booth will showcase resources and services to facilitate giving, glorifying God and advancing His Kingdom. The foundation assists believers in planning for eternity by providing quality estate planning as an act of stewardship and generosity. The foundation also provides prudent, socially screened investment services to churches and entities.
Seminary Extension has been training volunteers, leaders, teachers and pastors for Southern Baptist churches since 1951. Following its original mandate from the Southern Baptist Convention, Seminary Extension continues to offer opportunities for theological education and ministry training through independent study and sponsored study groups in churches, associations and Southern Baptist state conventions. Individuals interested in studying with Seminary Extension can stop by the booth in the Exhibit Hall for more information. Director Randal Williams and student services associate Carmen Ferreira will be in the booth each day to answer questions and provide information about Seminary Extension. They also look forward to visiting with alumni, current and former instructors.
Global Hunger Relief
The Global Hunger Relief (GHR) booth in the Exhibit Hall at Columbus will bring the hunger crisis across North America and overseas to the attention of Southern Baptists. More than 1 billion people around the world live with constant hunger, and about 24,000 people – over half of them young children – die every day from illnesses that could have been alleviated by basic nutrition. This year’s booth will give visitors an opportunity to talk personally with Southern Baptist workers engaged in the battle to alleviate hunger around the world. Booth staffers also will help visitors address hunger needs in their own communities and around the world with free and low-cost resources, including a brief video that will premiere on the annual meeting platform Wednesday morning (June 17).
GHR is a collaborative effort of seven national partners: Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, NAMB, IMB, BGR, WMU, LifeWay and the SBC Executive Committee – as well as state Baptist conventions.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press general assignment writer/editor Diana Chandler and BP managing editor Shawn Hendricks.)