Staff members Evelyn Hanneman and Bob Spinks represented the BPFNA at the inaugural meeting of the New Baptist Covenant in Atlanta January 30-February 1, 2008. Here is their final report from that event ...
Friday was not nearly as busy around our booth as it had been earlier in the week. We had a lot less traffic, probably because of the early departure of many participants on the final day of the meeting. While we always want to speak to as many friends as possible, the decrease in traffic meant that we were able to spend more time with each visitor who did appear. As a result, we were impressed by the depth of interest shown in BPFNA and we were grateful for the many words of encouragement and support that we received.
We were impressed (and somewhat surprised),as well, by the number of questions we received about the Churches Supporting Churches (CSC) program, in which we are a partner and in which we are substantially involved. It is a multi-denominational effort to restart, repair, and rebuild churches in New Orleans that were destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita more than two years ago. For whatever reason, there seemed to be an unusual degree of interest in CSC and we were delighted for the opportunity to explain the program in detail to those who asked. We believe that we were able to recruit a few congregations that will eventually join CSC as partners, as well.
Without exception, every person we were able to engage in conversation agreed that the New Baptist Covenant meeting had been both successful and meaningful. As one visitor put it, it was good to see such a variety of people, from such a variety of settings, all gathered in the same place at the same time, for the same purpose. The meeting had been planned by a group of 80 representatives from more than 30 Baptist organizations. Those organizations have a combined membership of more than 20 million Baptists located throughout North America. We are pleased that several BPFNA members were included among those representatives.
Of course, the question that everyone has now is what happens next. On the final page of the printed program, Jimmy R. Allen, Program Chair and Coordinator for the New Baptist Covenant, allowed that everyone on the planning committee agreed, from the outset, to avoid the creation of any new organization. Baptists have organizations enough. What the committee did agree to, he said, was to have more than a meeting. He closed his summary statement with what we are certain was a sincere invitation for any of us to share our ideas and suggestions of possible avenues of future interaction with the committee.
The BPFNA Board of Directors will be meeting in Dallas in a few days for its regularly scheduled winter meeting. Among the items on our agenda will be a report from us about this meeting. We will be prepared to rehearse all that went on (as memory serves!) and to share our impressions with the entire group. We hope that we will be able, as well, as a board, to prepare a thoughtful response to Mr. Allen's invitation.
We would be delighted to hear from you about any of this.
Evelyn and Bob
More information, stories and photos from the New Baptist Covenant Celebration are available on their website at www.newbaptistcelebration.org. Archived session videos are available through the "Videos" tab at the top right of their home page.