Multiethnic, multicultural, Black, Caribbean and Haitian pastors gathered in unity through fellowship, networking, encouragement and ministry training during the 2019 Black Multicultural State Fellowship Conference.
With the theme “For Such a Time as This,” the conference, held Aug. 8-10 at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor, was designed “to embrace culture and come together as a diverse, all-inclusive and united approach of the flesh,” said Patrick Coats, Florida Baptist Convention’s black multicultural church catalyst.
“In breaking racial and cultural barriers of the flesh, the meeting reminded us to look no further than the gospel, realize the Kingdom perspective and emerge in oneness as we share a unanimous passion,” said Coats, conference organizer.The meeting drew 605 participants from 71 churches.
Erik D. Cummings, senior pastor of New Life Baptist Church of Carol City, said the conference was a “powerful time. It allowed pastors and church leaders to be ministered to and poured into for them to grow.
“I saw a lot of new relationships forged. The fellowship was so infectious across the board. You saw people connecting and really loving on each other and encouraging one another. I just thought that was phenomenal,” said Cummings, who serves as the president of the Florida Baptist State Convention.
The fellowship conference provided seminars designed for pastors, pastors’ wives, lay leaders and families. Specialized classes were offered for couples, women and on topics including forgiveness and reaching the whole body of Christ.Jon Matthews, founder, pastor and teacher at New Philadelphia Ministries of Saint Petersburg, said the state fellowship meeting “was enriching for the laypeople and very encouraging for the leaders.”
Noting he had attended the conference the past three years, Matthews said the “quality” increases every year. “I particularly enjoyed fellowshipping with other cultures. It’s no longer the barrier of color, but it’s the barrier of culture that we must solve in the natural so that we can bond together in the spiritual.”
Among the keynote speakers was Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention. “No pastor was in his seat, everyone was at the alter weeping. It was a moment of encouragement and strength,” said Coats. Ricardo Peters, pastor of Cosmopolitan Baptist Church of Miami Gardens, called the multicultural event “fantastic. The preachers were all inspirational and every single speaker did an awesome job in what they had to share with us.”
“The resounding message was the fact of our responsibility to the world to speak with one voice, to bring our message–all of us in one voice, and that is the voice of Christ,” Peters added.
Jeffery Singletary, Florida Baptist catalyst for the Central Region, said he had “never attended a conference where the speakers were not just of that caliber, but the anointing of which they communicated their message was second to none. My greatest joy was seeing the diversity across the African diasporas.”