Atlanta Day 2 — POTUS at 10 Feet

Today was a pretty light day at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration.

[Update 7am – I forgot to mention, the running joke last night was that Jimmy Carter was the husband of the most famoust deacon in the world.  And during the service Pres. Carter was just a normal guy doing the role of a deacon.  The Mayor of Atlanta was late in arriving, but when she did he just got up and nonchalantly whispered in the speaker’s ear and told him she was there.  It was neat to see, no assistants involved.]

Registration began at noon, so Mae and left the hotel about 12:30 and walked to the Georgia World Congress Convention Center. Our hotel is about a mile from the center. It was a nice walk, but we will be driving there more often than not. After registration we hit the exhibition floor. We naturally searched out the ABC-USA (American Baptist Churches-USA) booths. When we got the the ABC Historical Society booth, Betty and Deborah saw we were from North Shore they immediately asked about John Dawson — we found that fun. We then went the MMBB (Minister and Missionary Benefits Board) booth and saw Rev. Reg Mills on the video presentation — he was my pastor when I lived in Springfield.

After spending an hour or so on the floor we decided to go back to the hotel. We would remain there until 5ish and head back to the center for the evening’s plenary session.

We got back to the center and decided to sit at the food court and figure out which special sessions we wanted to go to. On our way to the “sanctuary” for the plenary session we saw some people with camera (tv and photo) walking by us. I looked into the gaggle and there was the former POTUS, Jimmy Carter 10 feet from me. It was kind of exciting, we were going to get a picture of the scene, but realized we accidentally left the camera at the hotel — that will not happen again!

The plenary sessions are basically a 2.5 hour worship service. It moved pretty quickly. At this point in the daily blog, I will try to decipher my notes and post things that happened in the service. Please note these will be short blurbs and may not be the easies things to understand…

The first words spoken tonight were from William D. Underwood (President of Mercer University and Co-Chair of New Baptist Covenant), and they — i think — aptly stated our purpose for being here. “Some 40 years ago a Baptist minister said that one day, in the red hills of Georgia, sons and daughters of slaves would worship side by side with the sons and daughters of slave owners. Well, here, on the red hills of Georgia, we are here together to unify his dream.”

David Goatley (President, North American Baptist Fellowship): We are seeking to cross boundaries we choose to live behind.

Dr. William Shaw (Pastor White Rock Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA and President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.): Used Luke (the section where Jesus reads and the temple and then gets chased out of town) and John 8.

– Jesus was on a mission of reversal

– He did not come to give relief to the sick, but to heal. Not to comfort the blind, but make them see.

– Christ’s mission was concrete. Radical. Work of reversal not just relief.

– Justice is rooted in reality of the incarnation.

– We are created in God’s image. To do injustice is to to it to God.

– Justice is changing the structures of victimhood.

– Change is reversal. Calm is not peace. Calm is the illusion of peace. There is no peace without justice. Kenya for example. There was calm, but the structures of victimhood were not addressed and violence and war broke out. Middle east may have calm, but no peace until we change the structures of victimhood.

– No morality without justice.

– We tend to use a partial morality as a tool for punishing morality.

– Injustice is a distorted claim to divinity.

– We tend to spiritulize Christ’s mission when we don’t want to change.

– We reject Christ when we put our selfhood above him (baptist, race, nationalism)

– When we reject Christ we become like those who wanted to kill him in the above scripture.

– I AM. Ultimate claim of divinity.

– I AMness makes all efforts to kill Christ futile.

– We are like Peter who denied, but still loved Christ. We, like Peter, are given a charge to love and serve.

– We are called to the work of CHANGE.

This was an amazing sermon. My notes are fuzzy because as soon as i wrote something down, i would have to begin again.

Jimmy Carter: Quoting Dr. Shaw (glad he did this, because i remember Dr. Shaw saying it, but did not get to write it down) “How do we disagree with Christians in the name of Christ?”

– 1st time in over 160 years this many baptists have gotten together.

– Looked at Christ’s mission with emphasis on the oft over looked poor, broken hearted, prisoners, sick, blind and brusied.

– Helping those is true liberty, the Spirit of the Lord is upon us.

– We can not be inspired here and then let it fade.

– The attributes of Christ that attract are those of mercy, love and justice.

– Images of Christians by those non-Christians around the world is that of a divided body a cancer matastsising in the body of Christ.

– Looked at 1 Corinthians (the lectionary from last week) about Paul’s admonition that we be of like mind.

– To redefine the Gospel has been the temptaion.

– We are dealing with the same man-made barriers to Christ (homosexuality, race, women in the pulpit) -paul’s day it was circumcision, eating meat from idols.

– We are called to set aside those barriers and work for the Gospel.

– Quoted Galatians: we are all children of God — no longer women, men, slave or free

– We all share at least one common thread the Gospel message of we are all saved by the Grace of God through Christ.

– With that we can stand united.

– We all stand for peace, love, and forgiveness.

Wow, for being an easy day, I sure wrote a lot. The rest might not be this in depth. As we will be having 5 hours of worship plus 2-3 of breakout sessions.

See you tomorrow!

Photos and video of tonights session can be found here: http://www.newbaptistcelebration.org/

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