You can read all about the convention itself at http://www.baptiststandard.com. That’s the best perspective with the least spin.
As far as my comments go, I’ll keep them brief.
As always, I left with a different impression and perspective than when I arrived, in a lot of different ways. I haven’t been able to attend Baptist meetings like this for a long time, and so a lot has changed.
The BGCT has been rocked by the recent investigation into the misuse of money designated to start new churches in the Rio Grande Valley. I didn’t really know what to make of all of that, even after the report came out. As it turns out, grieving for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Valley was the right thing to do, grieve with them, pray for them and then put some feet to our prayers to help them out of a situation that they had nothing to do with.
Second, I have every confidence that the leadership of the BGCT is doing everything it should be doing to keep the same thing from happening again, and to restore the reputation and ministry of the Baptist Christians in the Rio Grande Valley. That includes the executive board and Dr. Charles Wade, the executive director. From what I observed, leaders of churches in the Rio Grande Valley trust the executive board and Dr. Wade in this matter. That’s enough for me.
Third, in recent memory I can’t recall observing a powerful leader of a Baptist entity, in a position of leadership, accept responsibility for a situation with such grave consequences and be open and transparent enough to stand in front of a microphone, invite anyone at the convention to attend, and answer any question that was asked without hedging, dodging or evading. That’s exactly what Dr. Charles Wade did. In a similar situation, I’m not sure that I would not have been tempted to exit through the two back doors in the room, but Dr. Wade faced every question, including some really difficult ones from Valley Baptist leaders.
Fourth, in spite of its detractors, the BGCT is far more passionate about what it is doing for the kingdom than it is about advancing a political agenda. It has been accused of being left of center from a theological perspective, a charge that can easily be proven false, and of being much more politically oriented than ministry oriented. No politics were mentioned, no political position was advanced. This convention is about ministry and in the three sermons preached by its leaders this week, it is clearly centered and focused on the Bible as the Word of God.
Monday evening worship was a powerful, spirit-filled service with the rousing anthems of the Metroplex Mass Choir, made up of members from Baptist churches all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and a sermon by Michael Bell, pastor of Ft. Worth’s Greater St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church and president of the BGCT, which had me on my feet saying “amen” at least a dozen times.
The seminar workshops were extremely helpful, with a variety of topics to choose from. Aside from worship, that’s the best part of the convention.
The BGCT has its detractors, as any such group will have. My observation is that it is made up of people who are quite ministry focused, Biblically centered and prayer supported. I am glad I was able to attend.