The Open Door: Savannah annual meeting impact will be felt for a long time

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Georgia Baptist Convention Executive Director J. Robert White brought the Missions Inspiration sermon Sunday evening. JOE WESTBURY/Index

Georgia Baptist Convention Executive Director J. Robert White brought the Missions Inspiration sermon Sunday evening at the annual meeting in Savannah. JOE WESTBURY/Index

Another Georgia Baptist Convention annual meeting is now history, but the impact will be felt in our hearts for a very long time. Our president, Dr. Thomas Hammond, designed a beautiful worship experience for all of us, combining music, preaching of the Word, pastor video testimonies, and more.

As he said, “You came to attend a convention meeting and discovered a worship service.” For me, it was like one great big revival service from the opening gavel to the final prayer.

Our host church, Calvary Baptist Temple, and pastor Kenny Grant, could not have been more generous and gracious. They anticipated and met our every need. Buddy Wasson, the associational missionary for the Savannah Baptist Association, greeted the crowd in the church’s sanctuary to begin the first session. We could not have had the annual meeting if it had not been for the many volunteers and resources of the local association and the church.

No doubt, as messengers and guests left the meeting they still had ringing in their ears and hearts the amazing performance of “How Can It Be” by Elizabeth Bailey. Dressed in her cowgirl outfit with her countenance reflecting joy in Christ, Elizabeth sang like an angel and brought the entire crowd to their feet. It was a moment that many of us will never forget.

It was my privilege to present the Mission Georgia focus on Tuesday afternoon. Highlighted were a Georgia Baptist Egyptian pastor, a special two-year partnership with the Augusta Baptist Association, a medical student impacted by collegiate ministry, and a Georgia Baptist missionary couple serving with the International Mission Board in North Africa. This vibrant young couple serving in one of the toughest places in the world today is a beautiful reflection of who we are as Georgia Baptists. We are a missionary people with a commitment to reach those without Christ in Georgia, North America, and the world.

I have often said that we would not have the international missionary force we now have across the world if it was not for the local churches, associations, and Baptist state conventions. We are a breeding ground for missionaries and they are literally all across the world. Their inclination toward missions and their call from God, in many cases, began early in their life and culminated in full surrender and submission to God’s call to missionary service.

Once again, Georgia Baptists responded to the encouragement to prepare backpacks for the children of Appalachia. Reaching toward 30,000 backpacks, by the time the convention began, there were 23,000 collected and awaiting distribution. That truly is amazing. We can do so much to the glory of the Lord when we join hands to accomplish great things for Him.

Serving Georgia Baptists for these 24 years has been a true blessing to Janice and me. Thank you for another great year.

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