Missing The Biennial

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  June 7, 2015


From the time I was eight years old I’ve been a part of American Baptist Churches. Before that time my family went to a Southern Baptist church in Winchester, Kentucky (Central Baptist Church with Pastor Zachary). We switched to American Baptist because we moved from Winchester to Williamstown, West Virginia, and the Baptist church in town was First Baptist Church with ties to the ABC.

That’s my pilgrimage! No doctrinal differences that sent us scurrying for safety. No questioning of our salvation, or limited program opportunities…just one town with one Baptist church. I was at an age where I didn’t understand what a Nazarene was…and the only things I knew about Methodists were that the Boy Scouts met there and that they didn’t meet as often as we did at the Baptist church. They didn’t even have a Sunday night service, which I thought was the eleventh commandment!

I grew up, moved to Zanesville, Ohio, and then to Ironton, Ohio. The First Baptist Churches in those communities were also American Baptist-related. And that’s how I became entrenched in my denomination.

All that to say that in less than three weeks when my denomination has their biennial convention in Overland Park, Kansas I won’t be there! It isn’t a protest because of some issue they will be debating. It’s just a matter of church budget constraints. I didn’t even ask for the biennial convention to be a line item in our 2015 budget. If we are committed to sending mission dollars to various parts of the world I just couldn’t see asking for a thousand dollars to send one pastor to four days of meetings.

I’m not disgruntled or embittered. I’m just…conservative!

And I’m probably not alone. I’m sure there are plenty of other pastors of small and medium-sized congregations who can’t justify the expense as well. A few years ago I made a suggestion about simulcasting the biennial to various places around the country and world. The concern was that we would lose the “community feeling” of the biennial, those face-to-face conversations with people we know or missionaries who are available or region executive ministers being able to meet with “new blood” potential pastors.

I still was not convinced that the cost of bringing a couple thousand people together from around the country and abroad was worth the expense. The last biennial I attended was in Richmond, Virginia eight years ago.

And so I will miss this one! I’ll miss reconnecting with ministry friends such as Tom and Diane Bayes…and Bret Truax…and Ed Owens. I’ll also miss the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board luncheon, and some great speakers, and the freebies that I’ll keep for memories.

But I’ll survive…and our denomination will go on.

Sometimes you just can’t do everything, and a person needs to decide what it is he/she can do. What is financially responsible? What is good time management? What makes sense?

Explore posts in the same categories: Christianity, Community, Faith, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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