Baptist meetings, our Freedoms, and GO VOLS!

Are you getting your steps in? Those of us attending worship and LifeGroups these days would say “YES!” It’s an inconvenient but encouraging evidence of elevator repairs. I’m hopeful we’ll have folks riding up and down in six to eight weeks (the stairs will continue to work).

Aside from the College World Series, it’s the season for Baptist annual meetings. I did attend the CBF General Assembly; it was great seeing friends, connecting with like-minded Baptists and spending time with Cally.

The CBF doesn’t pass resolutions, vote churches in or out, or elect a president (a moderator is appointed). It’s mostly about worship, education, networking, and of course, fellowship. The main business this year was passing an operating budget.

The high points for me related to the Learning Labs; these are breakout sessions between the plenary gatherings. I enjoyed taking in Dr. Bill Leonard’s presentation of “Baptists and Conversion: A Re-formation?” He provided an overview of what salvation has meant for Baptists through the years, and offered a suggestion that we emphasize following Jesus as an integral part of the salvation experience. Salvation is about “being born again” but it should also include the importance of responding to Jesus’ call to “follow me.” In short, salvation is more than a transaction, but involves a changed life which includes discipleship.

The other Learning Lab, led by Amanda Tyler, was entitled “Being Baptist in an election year.” It was no surprise that the room was packed with hundreds of attendees. Amanda is Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee, and provided resources about what Baptists can and should not do as it relates to elections. Baptists should be involved in the political process, but churches cannot provide endorsements of political candidates as 501-3C non-profit entities. We can, however, encourage people to vote and do our best to foster free and faith elections.

July is the time to give thanks for our freedoms. Let’s remember the precious words of our Lord Jesus when he said to “render to Ceasar the things that are Ceasar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” On that note, I’m grateful for the SBC’s passing a resolution “On Defending Religious Liberty.” A key aspect of this resolution reads, “we oppose any effort to use the people and the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to establish Christianity as the state religion of the United States of America.”

In short, this is a clear affirmation of the separation of church and state. This historic Baptist distinctive is good for both entities. It’s also an important statement especially during an election year and as Christian nationalism remains influential in evangelical circles. 

As far as FBC Clinton is concerned, we’re going to keep on celebrating and affirming God’s call upon both men and women as deacons, ministers, and other leadership positions. This has been and will remain our practice in the days to come.

And yes, VBS was a lot of fun and thanks to all our volunteers, teachers, and children who were part of this special week. This was a great outreach event as we made friends with newcomers to our town and shared the gospel with children. Let’s continue praying for the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives leading to salvation in Christ and involvement in the church.

Special thanks to Lauren for all the preparation, planning, and leadership. There’s already excitement for next year’s theme of an Alaskan cruise (and yes, the Encore group is planning such a trip next summer). 

Finally, congrats to our VOLS for their first NCAA Baseball Championship!! It was a great season and a great run, and it’s been a lot of fun to cheer them on and be part of things here in East TN! I have the feeling there’s going to be an explosion of ORANGE around here–DC

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