This week I had the opportunity to participate in the first meeting of our Committee on Convention Business (COCB) meeting. This year the committee will be led by Jeane Law, former president of the Texas Woman’s Missionary Union and long time family friend. The committee is made up of a diverse cross section of Texas Baptist life. The sixteen members had the monumental task of putting together our annual meeting which includes the business sessions and breakout training sessions.
The theme of this year’s convention in Houston will be “Texas Hope 2010…Christ in you, the Hope of glory.” Instead of coming up with some creative new theme, the officers of the convention recommended that this year’s meeting stay in unison with the heartbeat of our convention under Dr. Everett’s vision and leadership. We are leaning toward shaping the business and worship sessions around the words of Paul –”Christ in you—the hope of glory.”
One exciting idea for this year’s convention will be an IKE Reunion. We are working on a reunion of all the churches in the greater Houston area that were impacted by Hurricane Ike and those churches and individuals who came to their aid and continue to come to their aid. The reunion will celebrate the Texas Baptist family at its best—helping each other in our times of need.
As part of our initial meeting I was asked to give an opening devotional thought and challenge. I selected as my text David’s song of ascent Psalm 133. Years ago the hills around Jerusalem rang with the lyrics of this song as the pilgrims climbed their way to the temple. With each step the hills rang out with “How good and pleasant is it when brothers dwell together in unity.” This call for unity among the people of God rang out then, and still rings out today. As the oldest of four boys, I know that unity among brothers can never be considered a given or easily attained. Unity does not mean uniformity, or sentimental feelings of love. Unity often is messy, and requires embracing conflict.
In my closing charge to the COCB, I spoke of the opportunity we had to write a new chapter in BGCT history. I shared the first BGCT annual meeting I attended was in 1980 in Houston as a young Baylor bear. I attend the meeting with my dad, and vividly remember the circles of frustrated and plotting leaders. I remember rumors of caucus meetings in hotel rooms, and the tension in the air. The meeting was far from the family reunion atmosphere anticipated. Now thirty years later one can look around a see the rubble of years and years of infighting and struggling.
I warned the COCB if we don’t end this chapter we may be writing the last chapter. I am forty-nine years old, and the generations following me have neither patience nor desire to follow our patterns of struggling. Rather their passion beats with the march of the Kingdom around the world. These young men and women want to lose their lives in a cause much bigger than themselves and far too many of them see our political and factional struggles as a huge waste of time and energy. I fear they may be right.
In 1979 this struggle began in Houston on the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting while its architects watched from a skybox above, and it is my hope and prayer that this struggle ends in Houston in 2009 as a new day dawns while our LORD watches from the heavens above.