A 19th century American poet, Walt Whitman, wrote a poem called “Prayer of Columbus,” where he imagined Christopher Columbus – the 15th century Italian explorer that discovered America – crying out to God in prayer. In Whitman’s rhyme, Columbus prayed that God would bring spiritual revival to America, that Europe’s “lifeless cross … may bud and blossom there.”
The 2015 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting is scheduled for June 16-17 in a city named after the explorer: Columbus, Ohio. Like the city’s namesake, Southern Baptist leaders are praying for revival; the theme for the event is “Great Awakening: Clear agreement, visible union, extraordinary prayer.”
The Biblical Recorder has previously reported on SBC President Ronnie Floyd’s concerted effort to call Southern Baptists to pray. With a remake of the meeting’s hourly schedule, the entire Tuesday evening session is dedicated to prayer. Floyd recently announced the prayer gathering will be led by a number of pastors from across the U.S., including J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in Durham.
“Tuesday night, I want us to call for a national gathering of Southern Baptists to pray for the next great move of God in America and to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Floyd said. The two-hour session will include time to “unpack the Word of God,” pray a lot and worship.
Greear told Baptist Press in a written statement that he plans to nominate Floyd for a second term as president of the SBC.
David Starry, pastor of First Baptist Church in Vandalia, Ohio, announced in April that he would be nominating Chad Keck, pastor of First Baptist Church of Kettering, Ohio, for the office of second vice president.
Joshua Hedger, a pastor and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary administrator, will nominate John L. Yeats for a 19th term as recording secretary of the SBC.
Also, Floyd has named members of the Credentials Committee and the Tellers Committee.
Hayes Wicker, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., will serve as chairman of the Credentials Committee. Only one North Carolina representative was named to either of the committees. Rob Peters, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, is serving as the vice chairman of the Credentials Committee.
David Galvan, lead pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista, Nueva Vida in Dallas (New Life Church), will serve as chairman of the Tellers Committee. Mike Orr, pastor of First Baptist Church in Chipley, Fla., will serve as the vice chairman.
Two significant events are scheduled to precede the annual meeting: Crossover Columbus on June 13 and the SBC Pastors’ Conference on June 14-15.
The Pastors’ Conference is open to all pastors, families, church leaders and SBC messengers, according to the event’s website: sbcpc.net. Among the speakers for the Pastors’ Conference are Greear and Clint Pressley, senior pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte. Other noted speakers include David Platt, president of the International Mission Board; Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; H.B. Charles Jr., senior pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; and James MacDonald, founder and senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, Ill. Ben Carson, former pediatric neurosurgeon and likely 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, was initially named as one of the speakers for the Pastors’ Conference. Baptist21, a network of young Southern Baptist leaders, and Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, wrote blog posts criticizing the decision to include Carson because of his theological convictions as a Seventh Day Adventist and his political attachments. After it became clear that some Southern Baptists opposed him being scheduled to address the conference, Carson and the Pastors’ Conference president, Willy Rice, decided April 24 that he should withdraw.
Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla., told Baptist Press that SBC leadership “has worked too hard and too much is at stake for us to be sidetracked [by controversy].”
Travis Cottrell, worship pastor at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., and Vertical Church Band from Harvest Bible Chapel will lead worship for the Pastors’ Conference.
Crossover Columbus is a collection of outreach events in the Columbus metro area where local churches partner with incoming volunteers from churches across the U.S. The North American Mission Board helps pair churches, and together they coordinate evangelistic activities that include sports camps, backyard Bible clubs, block parties, service projects and more. Crossover events have been taking place in the cities where SBC annual meetings are held for over 25 years.
Milton Hollifield, executive director-treasurer for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, believes in the importance of these evangelistic activities, and he has participated in Crossover events from the start. “Many people living in these host cities come to faith in Christ and take the gospel back to their homeland,” Hollifield said. “I encourage you to go to Columbus early and participate in one of the numerous evangelism opportunities provided through Crossover.”
More information is available at crossovercolumbus.org.
A mobile app is available for both Apple and Android devices. The app includes information about the meeting, social media feeds, attendee resources, along with social networking and scheduling capabilities.
Some of the highlights of the convention include ministers’ wives luncheon planned for Tuesday. It will feature popular blogger Angie Smith as its speaker.
Two notable panel discussions are set for Tuesday. They are the Baptist21 luncheon – including Platt, Mohler, Moore and other unannounced panelists – and the two-night 9Marks at 9 p.m. panel discussions, featuring Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
Over 100 missionaries will be commissioned in the Wednesday morning “Sending Celebration” that is entirely dedicated to global missions. Widely-known singer-songwriters, Shane and Shane, are slated to lead worship for the commissioning service.
Each of the six SBC seminaries will host alumni luncheons on Wednesday. The SBC presidential panel is planned for Wednesday afternoon. Floyd, Moore, Albert Mohler Jr. and others will discuss the upcoming Supreme Court decision about same-sex marriage and how pastors can prepare their churches for future cultural engagement. The annual meeting general sessions will also be broadcast live through an online video feed at sbcannualmeeting.net.
Other expected news releases leading up to the event will include the names of Committee on Resolutions and Committee on Nominations members. For a complete list of committee members, check online at BRnow.org.