Clint Bowman, at left, served with the International Mission Board alongside his wife, Harriett, for two decades before moving back to southeast Georgia. Now on staff at Second Baptist Church in Waycross, he’s set on helping churches throughout the area become more engaged in missions through a conference hosted by Second Baptist on Oct. 26. CLINT BOWMAN/Special
Clint Bowman, along with his wife Harriet, served with the IMB in Sub Saharan Africa for more than 19 years. Though they may have retired from being formally appointed missionaries almost four years ago, they still felt the call to missions.
They continued to hear that call after returning to their home community of southeast Georgia, where Bowman took a teaching position when they became members of Second Baptist Church of Waycross.
Bowman describes Second Baptist as a very busy church. “There were tons of people already in that church doing ministry in the community on their own,” he explained. “The pastor knew this.”
“The people in the church were becoming more and outreach–minded,” said Bowman. Eventually the pastor began talking with Bowman about joining the church staff. About one year ago, Bowman gave up his teaching position and joined the staff as Second Baptist’s missional development coach.
The Bowmans continued encouraging smaller churches to get involved in missions, just as the couple had when they were serving with the IMB. While operating an engagement team in West Africa, in April of this year Bowman visited Gambia to evaluate the work there.
“We had the idea of the conference to promote missions before I went to Gambia. I guess seeing the result of two smaller type churches being so diligent and successful reinforced the idea in my mind,” he said.
Bowman describes the staff at Second Baptist as “very active in missions and ministry–minded.” Therefore, it made sense that the church would be a good place to host a missions conference.
Churches across South Georgia, North Florida encouraged to attend
Second Baptist’s current building previously housed a private school. So, the facilities were deemed large enough for such a conference. Bowman hopes that their location between I-75 and I-95 in southeast Georgia will also allow people from churches outside the immediate Waycross area to attend.
The conference is not at all limited to churches in Georgia, Bowman added. “I am hoping that our close proximity to Florida may lead to some north Florida churches attending as well.”
The conference is called Missions 1:8, based on Acts 1:8. It is a one–day missions information conference designed to help small and medium–size churches discover ways they can be involved in missions from their Jerusalem to the “ends of the earth.” It will be held at Second Baptist Church in Waycross on Saturday, October 26.
The conference will begin at 9 a.m. with a short introductory session. Then, continuing until 2:00 p.m., attendees will have more than 10 breakout sessions from which to choose. Each attendee will be able to choose four sessions that cover a variety of missions opportunity topics. Pastors, church staff members, ministry leaders, and laypeople are all invited to this educational conference which Bowman hopes will encourage and inspire churches to reach outside the walls of their church.
A heart for helping smaller churches
“Our thinking was that the majority of Southern Baptist churches are not the megachurch types,” said Bowman. “Our own home association here in Georgia has about 65 churches, and about 62 would be what you would call small churches. We have a heart for helping those good folks to reach out and impact the world just as the larger churches are doing.”
Bowman says that he has talked with many churches who feel they cannot financially afford to do missions. However, Bowman says, “We believe that if God is leading, you can afford to do missions and have seen this happen many times.”
One goal of this conference is make churches aware of the support, pathways, and opportunities that are available. The intent is for churches to gain very practical knowledge from people who have real, hands-on experience in their fields. People such as Randy Jacoby, pastor at First Baptist Church Folkston, one of the pastors Bowman and his wife were helping coach in Gambia.
Other sessions on international missions possibilities include learning how to become connected with the IMB, lead by Greg Queen, IMB strategist and trainer. There is also a session on refugee ministry lead by Mike and Cammie Smith, who have worked in refugee camps in the Mediterranean region.
Sessions on North American missions possibilities include Bill Barker with the Backpacks to Appalachia ministry and Wyoming church planter Danny Smith with NAMB.
There are several sessions available to learn more about local missions opportunities, such as one led by FCA Regional Director Toby Crews on how to work in your local schools. Ladies Ministry Director Glenda Bashlor will offer several “outside the box” women’s ministry ideas. Lisa Mathis, director of Kingdom Care Ministry, will do two sessions on local medical missions opportunities.
Harriet Bowman will be leading sessions on prayerwalking, which will encompass local, national, and international prayerwalking opportunities, outreach efforts better suited to involve those who might not be vocal or visible leaders.
Registration began September 1 and includes a $5 registration fee. There will be a light lunch provided. Register online at secondbaptistwaycross.com or call (912) 816-7408.