People need to participate, Cummings says
November 16 2001 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

People need to participate, Cummings says | Friday, Nov 16, 2001

Friday, Nov 16, 2001

People need to participate, Cummings says

By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor WINSTON-SALEM-Mike Cummings presented a map for N.C. Baptists to increase their witness and nurture their fellowship during his final address as president of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) on Nov. 13.

Cummings, who completed a presidential tenure began when Mac Brunson resigned in the spring of 1999 to move to Texas, said N.C. Baptists need to realize people want to participate, people want to find community and God moves where people are praying.

The president said he approached this year's annual meeting in Winston-Salem's Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum as he had the previous two - with trepidation. His fear was the possibility of action being taken that would initiate a permanent rift between N.C. Baptists.

"These are such unnerving times," Cumming said.

Even while he spoke, about 4,000 messengers waited to hear the results of a vote to determine who would succeed him as president. One candidate, Jerry Pereira, was supported by the Conservative Carolina Baptists, and the other, Raymond Earp, was endorsed by Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina.

Cummings noted, though, that the first century church lived in unnerving times, as well. Yet, he said, the church survived as told in Acts 9:31 and following.

"As much as the early church recognized a brief moment to build the church, I believe we have our own occasions to seize," he said.

Participation Many people in churches no longer want to simply send a check for missions work. They want to get involved, and that is reflected in the number of people volunteering for mission work. "They want to get their own hands dirty. Participation is hot. Representation is not," Cummings said.

The same is true for the BSC, he said.

"Every person who wants to participate must feel like she can," he said. "This convention must be under no authority but God's through the welcome input of the hundreds of churches who by their messengers participate. This convention belongs to us all."

Balance and cooperation are needed on committees, boards and convention positions, he said. "Let us hear the frustrated people who feel like they're being left out. ... There is room for us all. We are mostly Southern Baptists, some Cooperative Baptists, but all are North Carolina Baptists," he said.

"Our mission is not to muzzle Baptists but to mobilize Baptists in this state."

Community "Many people are coming to church looking for relationships more than preaching," he said.

Some churches have learned to connect relationally with each other, especially new people, and lonely people are all around looking for relationships. "People are looking for communities and we need to find ways to create it," he said.

N.C. Baptists may not be as uniform as they once were, but the convention is still a community, he said.

"We use different hymnals, ordination standards, different Bible versions, different membership definitions and different systems of governance. Yet we have the same heritage, the same heroes, the same heart and the same hope," he said.

"We are on the same page when we exalt Jesus," Cumming said.

"Half the people of this state live on the doorsteps of hell, without a community of hope, no family or faith, no fellowship of worship, no Christian group to affirm their worth, nobody to pray for them when their lives start falling apart - but they are hungry for that place."

Praying "We have not done all we can do as Baptists until we pray," he said. "The cry of lost people demands we pray. The great mission field calls us to pray. The impact of your church in your community requires that you pray. A nation at war can ill afford not to pray. Just loving on Jesus makes you want to pray."

During a meeting last winter at Caswell when the unity committee presented its initial report to the executive committee, Cummings said he could see in BSC executive director-treasurer Jim Royston's face the influence of prayer and time alone with God. "It was evident on his countenance. He talked about what God was doing in his life." At a time when concerns within the convention were beginning to rise, Royston presented vision statements of more than 40,000 baptisms each year and a budget of more than $50 million that God had laid on his heart for N.C. Baptists. "I wept in my heart at what God does when we walk with Him in prayer. I am convinced that prayer is where God is moving."

Cummings asked messengers and visitors to covenant with God and the Baptist family to make His house a house of prayer, and to begin by praying in people's homes and with their families.

"When we get quiet before God, we are not as noisy with each other."

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11/16/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments
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