Once again, clergy members came from every corner of Georgia and nearby states — some even traveled from as far away as New York — for the Annual Ministers’ Conference of the General Missionary Baptist Convention last week in Macon.
Religious leaders gathered, ready to be refreshed. The event, which is held every February, featured singing, teaching and preaching. For four days, participants got acquainted and enjoyed spiritual renewal.
This year’s conference focused on enhancing and expanding ministries for greater impact in local churches. Event coordinators Dr. Theodus Drake, the Rev. L.C. Teasley and Dr. R.L. White said they recruited the best preachers to come and inspire the pastors and ministers in attendance.
“Each year, we convene at this conference for the purpose of examining issues related to the gospel ministry and providing timely information and strategies that address the challenges of a changing world,” said Dr. Clarence Moore, president of the 500,000-plus-member GMBC of Georgia.
“I come to be refreshed and renewed. When we go back to our churches, we will be able to give more to our people,” he said.
The conference theme was “The centrality of the cross,” which was taken from 1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
“As pastors, preachers and leaders of the church of Jesus Christ, our most important responsibility is to ensure that His death, burial and resurrection remain to be the center of our ministries,” Moore said. “The cross is central to everything we do. From the beginning of the sermon to the end, we ought to be pointing people to the cross.”
Throughout the conference, speaker after speaker touched on the importance of the cross and its true meaning. On Monday evening, the Rev. W.J. Lawson, pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Atlanta, preached the opening sermon. He focused on the message of the cross.
Other pastors from Georgia who preached during the conference were Dr. Sinclair Thorne of First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Hinesville, Pastor David Stanley of Union Baptist Church in Macon, Pastor Valerie A. Thompson of Revelation Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus and the Rev. Stephen P. Samuel of St. John Baptist Church in Gainesville.
Former GMBC President Dr. C. M. Alexander conducted a seminar on the theology of the cross. Dr. Sam Davis, pastor of Beulah Grove Baptist Church in Augusta, spoke about the centrality of the cross.
Nationally known clergy members Dr. Ralph Douglas West, pastor and founder of Brookhollow Baptist Church in Houston, and Dr. H.B. Charles Sr. of the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., also addressed conference attendees. Charles’ presentation centered on the ministry of the cross and preaching about the cross. West talked about the paradox of Christian suffering.
The closing sermon was given by the Rev. Jasper Williams of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta. A noted speaker and recording artist, Williams is recognized worldwide as a pillar in the ministry. With 60 years of preaching experience, his sermon grabbed and held the audience’s attention.
During his speech, titled “The cross of Calvary: Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Williams examined scriptures to find the true meaning of the cross.
Plans for the 2012 annual conference, which will be Feb. 6-9 at the Marriott in Macon, already are under way.