Well, it had to happen at some point. I’m going to my first statewide gathering of Baptists in the state. There are two such gatherings in April, the first of which is the 6th annual Baptist General Convention of Missouri. The alternative to the state convention group meets at Fee Fee Baptist Church near St. Louis, and I understand it is the oldest Baptist church west of the Mississippi River.
I’m interested in meeting other Baptists across our state, primarily because our church seems to be a melting pot of moderate Baptists of all brands and types. If you live in Southwest Missouri and your Baptist heritage is important, then you really have only one option. Having heard of these differing Baptist groups in Missouri, I will attempt to sort out whether the differences are minute in nature or have more substance to them. The Baptist House has many rooms to it, and there are times when those inside the rooms have problems recognizing the existence of the others around them. You wouldn’t think it would be difficult to interact with Baptists, and fortunately one effort to dispel that notion relates to the New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta. We’ll see how that goes, but in the meantime the variety of Baptist kingdoms abound.
I’ll go with an open mind to the BGCM meeting and look forward to making a few connections and support the President of the organization who is a member of our church. We’ll see whether I pack up for another weekend later in the month when the CBFMO meeting gets underway in Columbia. I was told that April was a busy month for Baptists in Missouri, and now I’m finding that out. Fortunately, our church is supportive of me whether I attend one of these meetings or not. I can see how a pastor could get consumed with denominational-type meetings and get distracted from the work going on at the church. I once was keenly interested in denomination life in another state and would have welcomed a chance for participation, but the size of my church didn’t lend itself to getting noticed. Woe be to pastors who link their value on being part of the denominational structure. It’s important, but it’s not that important. It’s amazing how I’ve changed in that regard, almost to the point of looking for ways not to be involved. The real work is in the local church. However, leadership is a precious commodity, and finding ministers and laypeople who will be part of the solution can be a challenge. Time is more valuable to me than money, because once it’s spent, it’s gone.
Anytime Baptists get together for “another meeting” a lot of things can happen, and most of them not good. I have a good feeling about this one though, and fortunately I am in a different Baptist orbit now and am grateful to support the work of free and faithful Baptists. We’ll see how this one goes.