January 25 – January 25, 2018
BPFNA staff members Evelyn Hanneman and Bob Spinks are representing the Fellowship at the historic New Baptist Covenant meeting this week, detailed elsewhere on our web site. Following is the first of their reports from Atlanta....
Wednesday was a full day of greeting numerous old and new BPFNA friends who stopped by our exhibit booth. All of the booths of the nearly 100 exhibitors are arranged along the main corridor of the building, a long stretch from the front door to the plenary meeting rooms. It seemed a strange arrangement at first but, as everyone has to pass by, many stop to say hello.
We appreciated the opportunity, in many cases, to put faces to folks we had known only as names and numbers on our mailing list. Civil rights pioneer and author Will Campbell stopped by and rehearsed many stories about his time with the BPFNA working with "that musical genius Ken Medema." Peggy Campolo came over to meet us and to purchase a book from our display. Tom Walsh, a member of the BPFNA founding board of directors, brought a group from Prescott Memorial Baptist Church in Memphis by our booth for introductions. Glen Stassen was by to check in prior to his Special Interest Session presentation tomorrow on "Peacemaking."
Stephen Shipman, from The Community of the Transfiguration, a Baptist monastic community in Australia, came by looking for Paul Dekar and for a copy of Paul's newly-published book on that community. Unfortunately, Paul was having trouble getting a flight out of Toronto because of bad weather and had not yet arrived, but we did have a few remaining copies of the book available.
BPFNA sponsored an auxiliary event this afternoon, "The HIV/AIDS Pandemic: A Deeper Conversation." Reports were that those who attended were grateful for the expertise of the conference leadership and the opportunity for serious in-depth conversation on issues surrounding this timely topic.
U.S. Sen. and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke this afternoon as part of the meeting of the National Baptist denominations which preceded the NBC. She shared a bit of her faith journey before launching into what appeared to be her campaign stump speech. Sen. Barack Obama had addressed the group earlier in the day via a live streaming video.
The New Baptist Covenant meeting officially opened this evening at 7:00 p.m. with greetings from Bill Underwood, president of Mercer University and co-chair of the gathering, and from other state and local dignitaries. A moving and provocative sermon was offered by William Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. The highlight of the evening was the message from Former President Jimmy Carter who noted that this was the first time in at least 160 years that Baptists had gathered from across America without regard to race or geography and without the fear of exclusion for particular beliefs. He said that divisive questions are not nearly as important as agreement on the good news that we are "saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ."
Thursday will be another full day of activity beginning at 9:00 a.m. with the second plenary session, followed by an array of workshops and special interest presentations throughout the day, concluding with another plenary session scheduled to end at 9:30 p.m.
Evelyn and Bob
Stay up-to-date on all the happenings at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration through their website at www.newbaptistcelebration.org. Live and archived session videos are available through the "Videos" tab at the top right of their home page.