El Paso: Nearly a week has pasted since the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting in McAllen. I must admit serving as president of the convention means much of what happened was a blur to me. In some respects it has taken me a week to get my barring back, and to gain some perspective on the event.
Overall, I was very pleased with the spirit of the meeting. I believe a number of significant things were accomplished. Of course, these kind of subjective feelings are not much to build on, but to be frank, I would rather leave with a heart full of positive memories than to walk away with a deep feeling of frustration. The energy in the room was positive and uplifting and the business was conducted with great dignity and respect.
Of course, one of the big white elephants in the room was the sparse attendance. The attendance was low by any standard. Interestingly enough there were more guests than messengers. In fact, there were more professions of faith (789) during Valley Reach than there were messengers. Without doubt there are 789 people who are thankful Texas Baptists showed up in the valley.
Personally, I believed the new format with three worship services and two business meetings has a great deal of potential for future meetings. In addition I think the Morning of Missions was well received.
From the perspective of planning the meeting the new format allowed for more creativity and energy in the worship services. I had hoped to bring in one or two nationally known keynote speakers to McAllen to create a high sense of anticipation for the sessions, but trying to schedule these kind of speakers on such short notice is very difficult. I believe with the new format of advance planning approved by the convention, the BGCT will be able to bring these kind of speakers to future conventions.
Dr. Everett and Victor Rodriguez challenged the convention with two powerful words of hope. I totally agree with Victor that it is time for us to open our eyes to the future.
I believe Victor Rodriguez will serve as an excellent president. He is a man of vision and courageous leadership. He will represent all of our Baptist family very well, and owns no one for his place of leadership. I am also confident Victor Rodriguez, Jerry Carlisle and Sylvia DeLoach will serve as a good team.
If you were paying attention you will note that the motions made at the convention by messengers were dealt with by this annual meeting. We made a concerted effort to make sure that the people who were willing to make the trip to the annual meeting would be empowered to do the business of the convention. Three motions from the floor were passed and I believe each of them helped us take a step forward into the future.
In addition, you will note that one recommendation from the Executive Board was voted down, and one major recommendation was amended twice. I believe these are very healthy signs for our convention. We left the rubber stamps at home, and came together to do business. These business items were debated, but the debate was respectful and fair. As moderator I believed that each one who spoke wanted what they believed was best for our convention, and even though many of the votes were divided, it appeared from my vantage point that the house was not divided. I believe what we witnessed Baptist polity at its best.
In closing, I find myself agreeing with this post by Ken Coffee on his blog Strong Coffee:
Amusingly, some continue to critique the McAllen meeting even though they were not present to witness it. Frankly, I was surprised at the spirit that prevailed. The 1731 people who registered may be the last vestige of support for the BGCT, but, if they are, so be it. Let’s build it from there.
I believe we have something to build on coming out of McAllen. Let’s get to work and spread hope across Texas.