You are the convention!

One of the most exciting events of the year is coming up in three short months, when the churches of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention will send messengers to the 2019 Annual Meeting (#SBTCAM19). This year we are gathering at First Baptist Church, Odessa, where pastor Byron McWilliams and the gracious congregation will host us. They have a beautiful new building. There is a new hotel near. It is going to be a wonderful setting.

Several years ago, under Nathan Lino’s leadership, the SBTC began a transition from a more formal approach to one designed to facilitate the churches in their gospel assignment. Now, attendees experience a cross between a church ministry seminar and a Bible conference. Pertinent topics such as mental health needs, evangelism, sexual abuse awareness and religious liberty will be addressed in panel discussion format. Five SBTC preachers will bring expositional messages from 2 Corinthians, chapters four and five. The theme “Who’s Your One?” is highlighted in the passages of Scripture. SBTC President Juan Sanchez will open up on Monday night. Tuesday morning Andrew Hebert, pastor of Paramount Baptist Church, Amarillo, will bring the next in the series. Tuesday afternoon Pastor Charles Lee, Acts Fellowship Church, Austin and Caleb Turner, associate pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church are scheduled. I will bring the concluding section of Scripture. 

Two other preachers will bring messages during our time together. Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board is slated for Monday night. This is a tremendous opportunity for people to hear and meet God’s man leading Southern Baptist global missions. I am personally thrilled that he made the effort to be with us in Odessa. I want to encourage every Southern Baptist church in West Texas to do everything possible to bring people to hear Dr. Chitwood. Tuesday morning will be treat number two. The new president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Adam Greenway, will bring God’s Word to us. Although all six seminaries “belong” to the Southern Baptist Convention, we Texans like to claim Southwestern as our own. Join me in supporting the ministry of Dr. Greenway. The future is bright on the hill in Fort Worth. 

Every year we have uplifting worship music. Testimonies will be shared about those who came to Christ through “Who’s Your One?” What we do together as 2,700 churches in missions and ministries is worth celebrating! Each week, roughly 2,000 people move  to the Lone Star State. If we started a mega church a week we would not keep up. New churches are making a difference, and we need more. Four thousand students attended SBTC staff-led camps this summer, and we saw hundreds come to Christ! This is an investment in the next generation. Disaster relief has gone non-stop in 2019 because of natural calamities and the border crisis. No church is so small that it doesn’t matter, and no church is so large that it can do it alone. Cooperative Program giving makes over 100 areas of services to churches and the public possible. #SBTCAM19 is a praise rally to Jesus!

Legally, the SBTC exists only when the messengers constitute the convention. The churches through the messengers own the convention. Some business will take place, and there is no greater business than gospel business. People will be elected to serve the churches, a budget is to be adopted and resolutions stating our positions on current issues will be presented. Our work is done together as a confessional fellowship centered on the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which gives a minimalist expression of what we believe about the inerrant Word of God.

Finally, there is one other unique facet about this year’s annual meeting. The closing gavel will sound on Tuesday afternoon, and there will be no Tuesday night session. You can be home before midnight if you live in Ft. Worth, El Paso or Amarillo. Everyone needs to stay for the conclusion. 

Attend #SBTCAM19 because we need fellowship with one another. Attend because we need accountability to one another in gospel work. Attend because this is your convention. You are the convention. There is so much more to tell you about our family gathering in Odessa. Please plan to be there. It will be worth the trip to be with family.  

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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