MAY 2017 FELLOWSHIP WEEK & GRADUATION
by Mark Milioni
Hosting a National Fellowship Meeting is difficult. It takes a lot of planning, discussion, and listening to ensure every detail is covered — from music, to speakers, to vendors, to childcare. It takes about a year to plan a National Fellowship Meeting. We begin in May with ideas and then work out every detail as the year goes on. The last weeks before the event are filled with meetings, rehearsals, and scheduling. People are given opportunities to help and serve. Then, after all the planning, discussion, rehearsals and prayer, the opening video kicks in, the music starts, and we are off. If you have ever hosted one of these meetings, then you understand the anxiety that comes next – What will the speakers say? Will they offend anyone? Will their message connect?
Fellowship Week 2017 was full of new things: a new venue, new opportunities, and new speakers. Problems with the W.E. Dowell Fieldhouse, where the event is traditionally held, forced us to consider a new venue. This need brought up new questions: Would it work? Would people come? Would it still be Fellowship Week?
The answer to all of these was a resounding yes!
The W.E. Dowell Fieldhouse (completed in 1968) has been the home for this event since it was completed. The chiller and boiler that were installed at that time are now inoperable and forced us to consider relocating Fellowship Week. I had a conversation with Pastor Don Baier of Seminole Baptist Temple and shared this dilemma. He met with his church and after discussion and prayerful consideration they wholeheartedly offered to let us use their beautiful building for this meeting. When they offered their facility, they also offered their time, their staff, and their congregation to be a help and blessing to us. Thank you, Pastor Don and the great people of Seminole Baptist Temple, for being such gracious, loving and kind hosts!
The Alumni and Friends Association holds a luncheon each year during Fellowship Week to help reconnect alumni and to update them on what is happening at their alma mater. This event is usually held in the cafeteria on the ground level of the W. E. Dowell Fieldhouse. The facility issues necessitated some creative thinking and the Alumni Breakfast was born. The alumni were divided by decade and were invited to attend a breakfast on either Tuesday or Wednesday morning. These breakfasts were well attended, fun, and offered a great opportunity to share the new vision for the Alumni And Friends Association.
The speakers for Fellowship Week are selected after much prayer and are chosen to bless, encourage, and challenge those in attendance. The speakers this year did just that. Alex Himaya opened the meeting and reminded us to take the Gospel on the offensive. Barry White reminded us to accept we are who God made us to be. Ted Cunningham challenged us to keep our marriage and children a priority. Shelley Switzer reminded the women to look at things from the right perspective. Mac Brunson encouraged us with a message from 1 Thessalonians declaring the power of God’s ministry. Don Baier, Nate Harmon and an assembled choir, praise team, and musicians led us to the cross. Scott Hudgins, missionary to Colombia, reminded us of our global missions mandate. It was a powerful experience! Herb Gilbert spoke to our graduates on Thursday morning and shared his fifty years of ministry experience and wisdom. It was a joy and privilege to work with and communicate with these godly people.
As I look back on the week, I am blessed. The music and worship was incredible. From the opening gospel quartet, to the worship led by BBC alumni and Seminole member Whitney Vowell, to the powerful presentation of the cross led by Nate Harmon, BBC students, and a combined choir, our hearts were moved as we praised the Lord together. The Fellowship part of the week was also great. The food trucks on Monday night offered not only great food, but also a great opportunity to talk with others serving in ministry. This fellowship continued at local restaurants and at both the 80s reunion and the Friends In Ministry event hosted at High Street. It was great to see new missionaries, both career and team, approved. It was great to recognize those that have served for 30 and 50 years. There is great power when we meet together!
Thanks again to our dear friends, Pastor Don Baier and Seminole Baptist Temple. It was great doing Fellowship Week “Together.”
We have already started planning for Fellowship Week 2018. This will be held April 30-May 3 — mark your calendars now!
To read the entire May 2017 Fellowship Week report, click here.