Tuesday, June 17, 2014Download All Stories
Sold-out Send North America luncheon hosts 'tour' BaltimoreBALTIMORE (BP) -- More than 3,000 Southern Baptist pastors and leaders experienced the city of Baltimore without having to leave their seats during a sold-out fourth annual Send North America Luncheon, held in conjunction with the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.The free luncheon immersed participants in a sweeping 200-year story of this year's Southern Baptist Convention host city through a theatrical narrative played out in the midst of a variety of iconic representations of Baltimore, such as Orioles Park at Camden Yards and Baltimore Harbor. Luncheon participants also dined on traditional urban street food -- including Baltimore crab cakes.
"Every month there are Catch the Vision Tours in cities all over North America, helping pastors and churches get a glimpse of what potentially could happen in those cities if they understand the needs in those cities," North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell told attendees. "That's the reason we thought we'd give you the opportunity to catch the vision for Baltimore."
Baltimore's first story highlight, as shared in the luncheon, was in 1814 when Francis Scott Key who, after watching the defense of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, penned what would become known as the Star Spangled Banner. He later played a central role in starting churches in frontier areas. The story then followed the city's growth throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, becoming one of the largest cities in the United States and producing cultural, social and spiritual icons like Frederick Douglass, Annie Armstrong, Johns Hopkins and Babe Ruth.
But the city's upward trajectory dramatically switched gears after World War II, ultimately leading to multiple decades of economic, social and spiritual decline. Throughout the luncheon, participants were introduced to the stories of several longtime Baltimore believers who had been praying for spiritual awakenings in their churches and for the city. Participants experienced the changing ministry context of the city through the stories of these Baltimoreans.
Finally participants were taken through the story of the city's rebirth, starting roughly a quarter century ago with the rebirth of the Inner Harbor. They were also introduced to the beginning of a spiritual rebirth in the city through the story of a new church plant that had merged with a dying church.
Luncheon participants were then urged to find the story of where they live within the story of Baltimore.
"You have an opportunity," Eugene H. Russell IV, the event's narrator, said. "We pray that your story, just like our story, is to be continued. So go. Write the next chapter in the story of your town."
Aaron Coe, NAMB's vice president for mobilization and marketing, continued the theme by connecting the urbanization of Baltimore with the growing urbanization of all of North America.
"In North America every square inch has been touched by density and diversity," Coe said. "What do we mean? More people live there and it's more diverse today. We, as churches, are now faced with a mission field that is very different than the one we faced 50 years ago. We believe the lessons we're learning in a place like this town can apply in places like your town."
Coe shared NAMB's desire to help pastors mobilize every member of their congregation to push back lostness in their communities and throughout North America.
"For the Send North America vision to move from just a few churches and a few people into a movement, we have to move the conversation forward to the people who sit in our churches, to the people who sit in our pews," Coe said. "We have to communicate a vision that everybody's life on mission matters."
To help pastors communicate that vision within their congregations, Coe announced a new book and small group study that will be released this fall, called Life On Mission, along with an accompanying evangelistic tool, the "3 Circles Life Conversation Guide," already available.
Coe highlighted the Send North America Experience Tour coming to 25 locations around North America and culminating in the Send North America Conference in Nashville, Aug. 3-4, 2015. The tour and the conference will provide places where pastors can bring their congregations to help them catch the Send North America vision.
At the end of the luncheon, Coe recognized representatives from the Baltimore mayor's office and the South Baltimore Little League who had attended the luncheon. NAMB gave the baseball stadium fence and bleachers that were a part of the luncheon set to the South Baltimore Little League.
Ronnie Stewart, the pastor of Gourd Springs Baptist Church in Spring Lake, N.C., said the presentation of Baltimore at the luncheon provided many parallels to the ministry needs in his community. He said it also introduced him to the ministry needs of Baltimore itself.
"It was awesome," Stewart said. "I think it gave a great overview of how the city of Baltimore has been transformed [in recent years]."
Dean and Elaine Mabry, who attended the luncheon and are planting Ilion Church in Ilion, N.Y., said they saw some of their city's story in what was presented about Baltimore. Read More
Pastor's shift on sexuality confronts SBC
NASHVILLE (BP) -- A Los Angeles-area Southern Baptist pastor has said he believes homosexual acts are not always sinful, leading to a split in his church and leaving some Southern Baptists wondering whether the Southern Baptist Convention will withdraw fellowship from the congregation. Read More
B21 panelists ponder challenges facing SBCBALTIMORE (BP) -- Cultural Christianity is dead, and Southern Baptist churches face a host of challenges as a result, including same-sex marriage, declining baptism rates and church revitalization, panelists at the Baptist21 luncheon said June 10 in Baltimore. Read More
Graham's grandson tells of military serviceBALTIMORE (BP) -- Army Major Edward Graham, youngest son of Franklin Graham fielded questions about his military service and his grandfather, Billy Graham, during the annual worship service sponsored by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists. Read More
Evangelists' Hall of Faith grows by 2BALTIMORE (BP) -- The Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE) inducted two individuals into its Hall of Faith during a banquet preceding the SBC annual meeting in Baltimore.
Priscilla Shirer: 'God is able' and sovereign-BALTIMORE (BP) -- An overflow crowd of more than 1,200 women examined God's sovereignty during the 60th annual Southern Baptist Convention Ministers' Wives Luncheon, held June 10 during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore. Read More
Jeannie Elliff honored by ministers' wives
BALTIMORE (BP) -- Jeannie Elliff, wife of International Mission Board President Tom Elliff, was honored with the 2014 Willie Turner Dawson Award during the Ministers' Wives Luncheon at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore. Read More
Pastor's wife: Conversation brings balanceBALTIMORE (BP) -- When a pastor's wife asks her husband, "How can I help you?" the answer may not be what she expects. But Christine Hoover says a simple question can open the door to conversation that brings clarity to the blurred lines between ministry and a couple's personal life together. Read More
Houston missions leader receives WMU awardBALTIMORE (BP) -- Ginger Smith of Houston received WMU's top award for leadership and service during WMU's Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Read More
Associational leaders' involvement growsBALTIMORE (BP) -- After a year of breaking in a new name and structure, the future looks bright for the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders, reports Johnny Rumbough, conference "team leader" and executive director of South Carolina's Lexington Baptist Association. Read More
FROM THE STATES: Ga., La., Va. evangelism/missions news; 'This is the happiest group of people I've ever been around in my life'
Today's From the States features items from:
The Christian Index (Georgia)
Baptist Message (Louisiana)
Georgians bring resources,
Christ to crime-weary McElderry Park
By Joe Westbury
BALTIMORE (The Christian Index) -- The ABC television affiliate in Baltimore describes the McElderry Park neighborhood as "an infected wound" full of violent street crime; the federal government calls it one of the nation's 15 most dangerous neighborhoods – so dangerous tha... Read More
2nd VIEW: Christians flee as violence spreads to northern Iraqi citiesMOSUL, Iraq (BP) -- Iraqi Christians came under fire again as the bloody campaign of Islamic militants spilled over from Syria into Iraq's northern cities last week. Read More