AM ’09: SBTC meeting ends with evangelistic success; West Texans elected officers

LUBBOCK?From the start to the finish of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, messengers and guests witnessed the results of inviting people to faith in Christ. The Oct. 26-27 gathering opened with the testimony of a teenager saved after a friend invited him to an SBTC-sponsored Student Evangelism Conference last summer, and closed with over 512 people professing faith in Christ and 68 others rededicating their lives during the gospel preaching and strength feats of Team Impact.

Lubbock-area pastors and churches joined with the SBTC’s evangelism department to focus the convention meeting on a citywide crusade event on Oct. 27, inviting Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt to speak in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center theater while Team Impact?a group of weightlifters who perform strength feats and preach Jesus?amazed teenagers and children in the exhibit hall.

While Hunt preached the gospel to a crowd of 1,200 adults, Team Impact told the 2,417 teenagers, children and youth leaders how to receive God-given power to change the direction of their lives for eternity.

Adults leaving the theater after hearing Hunt challenge Southern Baptists “to get back on track in evangelism” began to spontaneously applaud as they grasped the magnitude of hundreds of lives changed by the power of the gospel in the hall opposite theirs. At the last minute, more Southern Baptists joined those who stood ready to guide new converts, distributing Bibles to new believers and connecting them with local churches for further discipleship.

Additional professions of faith were reported where Team Impact members spoke during related events at First Baptist Church in Littlefield and Victory Life Baptist Church in Lubbock.

Prayers for the event began in April; a day in early October was devoted to prayer and fasting for the annual meeting. Team Impact’s presentations on character to 26 Lubbock-area schools and the distribution of free tickets to Texas Tech tailgaters during the week prior to the crusade attracted students and their families to the longer performance where their feats of strength were punctuated by testimonies of how God changes lives.

Meeting for the second time in West Texas since the formation of a new state Baptist convention in 1998, the headcount of 889 messengers and 423 registered guests was only a few hundred shy of last year’s attendance in Houston. The crusade crowd expanded to nearly 3,700 as local residents responded to the invitations from area Southern Baptists.

In his address to the convention, SBTC President Bob Pearle told the audience, “By standing firm and holding on to those distinctives that make Baptists who they are, we will continue to reach this world and not go the way of every other denomination.” The SBTC has grown from the 128 churches that formed the new state convention in 1998 to a current total of 2,197.

West Texans were elected to every SBTC office, including President Byron McWilliams, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Odessa. Recording secretary Pat Anderson, a member of Keeler Baptist Church in Borger, was elected by a vote of 132-108 over Becky Illingworth, a member of Community Baptist Church in Royse City. Vice President Kevin Ueckert, pastor of South Side Baptist Church in Abilene, was

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