Kennesaw meeting rallied Fellowship to unity

by Keith Bassham

When I think of Atlanta, the images that first open in my mind are (not in any particular order) Coca Cola, Gone With the Wind, and CNN. Not exactly a classic mind map, but for the foreseeable future, another image will be competing for the top spot in my thinking about Atlanta. That is the image of Shiloh Hills Baptist Church in Kennesaw, GA, just north of metro Atlanta, host church for the Baptist Bible Fellowship Midwinter Fellowship Meeting February 18-20.

Pastor Vic Bledsoe chose to highlight unity for his theme, and the preachers all had something to say about teamwork, fellowship, and unity (see the feature article in this issue for an example), but they also spoke of evangelism, direction, goals, and intention – all needed for a fellowship to forge ahead.

Bledsoe also wanted a Southern revival flavor, and that was helped along with the evening pre-service concerts provided by The Old Paths Gospel Quartet and a full music service every evening. Music minister Matt Bledsoe was one of the busiest guys around leading several choir specials each service. The church fed their guests and accommodated them every way possible.

The Tribune receives more attention in the February meeting (for many years it was known as the Tribune Meeting), and the host honored that tradition by asking Editor Keith Bassham to deliver the keynote message (see the print version beginning on page 15) Monday evening. Following the editor Tuesday and Wednesday evening were BBFI President Linzy Slayden and former BBFI President Bill Monroe. Preachers in the morning sessions were Eddie Goodall, Herb Hubbard, Harold Payne, Carlton Cooper, Gary Favor, and Karl Skinner. Tuesday and Wednesday began with breakout sessions dealing with church planting, missions, and other BBFI projects. In addition, President Slayden hosted a luncheon for state chairmen and national directors for a round table discussion of Fellowship issues.

Although there is no official plenary business meeting held in February, BBFI directors and college trustees do meet. Directors received updated information concerning the institutions, colleges, agencies, and ongoing projects of the Fellowship. This does not mean business is not transacted, though. Two projects were presented for “floor offerings,” a Muslim outreach in Dearborn, MI and a new church plant in Eastman, GA (Pastor Victor Baxter, an NCPO alum and a member of Brothers of Cyrene).

Several church planters had opportunity to present testimonies, and four new NCPO church planter candidates were approved: Aaron Mitchell, Mike Stancil, Gerard Dumoulin, and David Douthitt.

Mel Himes with GuideOne Insurance presented President Slayden and BBFI Treasurer Howard Braymer with a check of about $75,000 as part of the insurance firm’s partnership agreement with the BBFI.

On Wednesday night, Jack Baskin was honored with the Fellowship Faithfulness award for his years of faithful service as a missionary, educator, and Christian leader.

The February Tribune Offering was still incomplete (several states had not yet reported) but Editor Bassham reported about $85,000 had been committed by the meeting’s end, and the Rawlings Foundation had promised an additional gift to the Tribune. As the magazine goes to press, the total February Tribune Offering (including the Foundation gift) is $115,000, and commitments are still being received.

President Slayden, in the early part of the meeting, sent out an email report saying, “Wonderful spirit in our Executive Committee meeting and the National Directors meeting. This is a great group of ‘can do’ men. There was a great number of directors present at roll call. Very good attendance and great spirit.” David Chittenden, who attended from Michigan with his wife reported, “I enjoyed the music, the meetings, the preaching and the kind gracious people of Shiloh Hills. I was touched by the obvious hard work of the choir as they presented their praise to God.” Fred Gurule of New Mexico, when expressing his own appreciation of the meeting, said, “I was really impressed that Pastor Vic was part of the choir; that was really neat to see.” And sure enough, Vic Bledsoe was in the choir each evening, a symbol of the hard working ministerial staff and church.

Shiloh Hills has provided streaming and downloadable audio and video of the services on the church’s website, Navigate to the Online Media section of the website and an additional link is provided for the BBFI material.

The next meeting of the BBFI will take place May 13-16 on the campus of Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO. The fall meeting is scheduled for September 16-18 at Ventura Baptist Church, Ventura, CA where Lewis McClendon is the host pastor.