Florida Baptists are “Gathering to Exhort, Stir Up and Send Out” when they meet for the 2016 Florida Baptist State Convention Nov. 14-15 at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater.
“As we meet to worship and do convention business I pray that each one is encouraged, refreshed and motivated to continue on in this great Gospel work to which we’ve been called,” said James Peoples, president of the Florida Baptist State Convention.
The Convention theme reflects the teachings found in Hebrews 10:24-25, explained Peoples, “which speaks of the importance of the body of Christ gathering together for the purpose of encouraging and motivating one another, and doing it with urgency, ‘and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.’ ”
“The needs in our state are vast,” he added. “Jesus is the answer. Time is short. We need to spur one another along.”
The 155th annual meeting of the Florida Baptist State Convention will feature “a schedule of incredible speakers who are being greatly used of God,” Peoples said. While he did not assign a particular topic or passage to each speaker, “I’ve asked them to share as God directs them in a message that will be encouraging, challenging and motivating.”
Peoples said the lineup of speakers represents the great diversity of Florida Baptists.
The Monday night session, which begins at 7 p.m., will feature Grant Ethridge, senior pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Va., and Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention.
Erik Cummings, senior pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Carol City, will begin the Tuesday morning session. He will be followed by Jim Locke, senior pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Pensacola.
Tuesday afternoon will offer Louis Egipciaco, pastor of Elevate Church in Miami Lakes; and Peoples, who will deliver the President’s Message. James Merritt, lead pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., will close out the afternoon session.
Speakers scheduled during the closing Tuesday evening session are Willy Rice, pastor of the host church, who will preach the historic Convention Sermon; and Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., who served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2008-10 and called Southern Baptists to a Great Commission Resurgence.
Whenever Baptists gather, worship becomes a significant part of the meeting. This year’s convention will offer a diversity of musicians that represents all Florida Baptists, said Peoples.
Monday night will feature the Florida Baptist Worship Choir, comprised of musicians from Florida Baptist churches across the state. Tuesday morning’s worship will be led by the worship team from the multicultural Central Baptist Church in Tampa and a combined Haitian choir from area churches. Calvary’s worship team will be featured on Tuesday afternoon and the combined choirs from Calvary and Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon will lead worship during the Tuesday closing session.
Each year, messengers choose a president to lead and represent the Florida Baptist State Convention for the next year. This year Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, has announced he will nominate Stephen Rummage, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church, as president to the one-year term. No other nominations have been announced.
Peoples, who served two consecutive terms as president in 2015 and 2016, is not eligible for re-election. Other state officers currently serving are: Calvin Carr, Gainesville, first vice president; Boyd Bunting, Panama City, second vice president; and Randy Huckabee, Dade City, recording secretary.
FBSC messengers also will consider a $30 million Cooperative Program budget for 2017 that represents a million dollar increase over 2016 and the largest budget increase from the previous year in a decade. The proposed budget will continue sending 51 percent of the receipts to the SBC and retaining 49 percent for Florida.
Peoples also noted that multiple gatherings are held in conjunction with the annual meeting, including the Pastors Conference, which begins Sunday evening, Nov. 13, at Calvary, the FBSC host church. Also, a Baptist 21 fellowship will meet Monday night after the first session. Prior to the FBSC meeting, fellowship meetings will be held for messengers representing Florida Baptist Haitian, Hispanic and multicultural churches.
“I encourage every Florida Baptist to attend the FBSC to get a perspective on all that God is doing throughout our state,” Peoples said. “As we continue partnering together God is using it in a tremendous way.
“It’s my prayer that we’re motivated and [are sent] out of this meeting refreshed and rejuvenated as usable vessels to do all that God wants us to do.”
Messengers attending the Florida Baptist State Convention can pre-register online at www.flbaptist.org/Florida-baptist-state-convention-clearwater for messenger cards. For additional details on the meeting and surrounding activities, go to www.flbaptist.org/Florida-baptist-state-convention-clearwater.
Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention (flbaptist.org).