Joining hands for kingdom building
May 10 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Joining hands for kingdom building | Friday, May 10, 2002

Friday, May 10, 2002

Joining hands for kingdom building

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

WINSTON-SALEM - With combined resources of 1.8 million members and 6,000 churches, black and white Baptists of North Carolina "can do anything we want to" by focusing on kingdom goals, Jim Royston told a joint session of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) and the predominately black General Baptist State Convention (GBSC). The last joint meeting was held in 1981.

Royston, BSC executive director-treasurer, spoke at a special session of the two conventions, held during the GBSC's annual midyear meeting. About 600 people attended the May 8 program at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.

Royston announced that the BSC's Baptist Men and the GBSC's Baptist Laymen's League will jointly build two houses in Princeville this summer to aid victims of Hurricane Floyd. Royston said he prays that the joint project might grow into an effort to eradicate substandard housing statewide and bring many people to Christ. The building project will be accompanied by evangelistic efforts employing a jointly developed flyer, he said.

Earlier, convention presidents John Fuller and Jerry Pereira exchanged greetings. Fuller, president of the GBSC, noted points of closeness between the two conventions. Most towns of any size have white and black churches that began as a single congregation, he said. But, the GBSC historically has done more with other denominational groups - even "some of which we don't think are going to heaven" - than with the BSC, he said. Fuller expressed hope for more joint efforts between the two Baptist bodies.

Pereira, BSC president, said the conventions' joint efforts were "a way of trying to be the hands of Jesus in a hurting world." Using the word "hands" as an acronym, Pereira said the conventions, empowered by the Holy Spirit, should work together as Christ's healing hands, anointed hands, nail-pierced hands, dedicated hands and saving hands.

Wesley Wiley, a North Carolina native who served as a pastor in North Carolina and Washington, D.C., praised the joint plan to combine home-building and faith-sharing in promoting the kingdom of God.

Wiley, who has worked with the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) in directing cooperative ministries, referenced Jesus' comment that the "rich young ruler" was not far from the kingdom of God (Mark 12:34). "How far is 'not far'?" he asked. "How many more conferences must we hold together before we move up?"

To get together, "we have to work a little harder," he said, taking lumber designed for fences and using it to build bridges instead.

H.C. Miller of the GBSC and James Richardson of the BSC gave a joint report on evangelism. "Evangelism is the heartbeat of our convention," Miller said. "Christ is relevant, Christ is real, and the church has a divine mandate to reach the masses."

Richardson said both conventions are called to "go ye therefore" and reach the masses, teaching them what it means to be a part of God's kingdom.

Don Bouldin, executive team leader for the BSC congregational services group, delivered a sermon based on Acts 1:6. "Why are we in existence except to get the good news out?" Bouldin asked. "The potential is in this room to change the spiritual fabric of North Carolina."

Bouldin referenced the millions of people in North Carolina who do not know or believe the gospel of Christ. The churches have a responsibility to share the good news, he said.

The churches must remember that God wants churches to be "good news clubs" rather than introverted, selfish religious societies, Bouldin said. But "we spend our time doing convention business, and not doing the business of the convention."

Bouldin said churches are called to bear fruit, but some churches have left the fruit-bearing business and started selling firewood that makes an impressive blaze but burns out quickly.

While Christians are called to be fruit bearers, Bouldin said churches are hampered by members acting as fruit consumers who take but don't give, fruit inspectors who bear no fruit but critique others, fruit flies "who only show up when there's a stink," and even "fruit loops" who "aren't on the cutting edge but over it."

To be effective in bearing fruit, Bouldin said Christians must renew their commitment to love all people, even those who are different and hard to love.

Gardner Taylor, who was pastor of the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in New York for 42 years, praised the black Baptists of North Carolina for remaining united despite "fractiousness" on the national level. "I hope the day is not far in the future that we Baptists will all be together," he said.

Taylor challenged believers to test their faith. "Any Christian who does not in some sense come into tension with civil authority and even religious authority may have his Christian credentials under question," he said.

"We have so civilized and domesticated the faith that there is no tension," Taylor said, but "there ought to be tension between what is and the word of God." Instead, "we have a slick, accomodationist pseudo-Christianity that finds comfort in whatever is rather than what ought to be."

Like Jeremiah, believers should have courage to confront evil both publicly and privately, he said.

The Baptist State Convention was founded in Greenville in 1830, as an outgrowth of the "North Carolina Benevolent Society."

The General Baptist Convention was founded in Goldsboro in 1867 as "The General Association of the Colored Baptists of North Carolina." Since few African Americans at the time could read or write, officials of the Baptist State Convention, meeting in Goldsboro at the same time, provided some assistance with organization and the writing of a constitution for the new convention.

Currently, the GBSC has approximately 600,000 members in about 2,000 churches. The BSC counts 1.2 million members in just more than 4,000 churches and missions.

The two conventions cooperate in various ways, including a plan that provides retirement and insurance benefits for GBSC pastors and staff through the BSC's link with the Southern Baptist Annuity Board.

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5/10/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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