Hundreds Gather to be Challenged, Encouraged to Finish Well at 2017 Pastor’s Conference

0 1,548

Florida Baptist pastors gathered expectantly Sunday night to be blessed by a line-up of dynamic Southern Baptist pastors at this year’s Florida Baptist Pastor’s Conference. The theme for this year’s conference, headed up by Paul Purvis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Temple Terrace, was “Finish.” Based on Paul’s words in Acts 20:24, Purvis’ heart was to encourage his fellow Florida Baptist pastors to endure to the finish the call God has placed on each of their lives.

“Many brothers have difficulty when they walk through ministry and so many simply don’t finish,” Purvis said.

Free Pastoral Counseling and Mission Dignity Offering

To that end, Purvis sought out pastors who had experienced their own challenges in ministry and persevered through it. In addition to the encouraging messages, biblical counselors were available to pastors and their families all day Monday at no charge. The offerings that were collected were being dedicated to Mission Dignity, a ministry of Guide Stone that helps retired pastors and pastors’ widows meet their basic financial needs.  All proceeds collected during the conference will stay within our state.

Suffering But Not Without Hope

During the first session on Friday night, Willy Rice, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, reminded pastors that God has not called us to a cruise ship, but a battleship – the call inherently comes with suffering. Johnny Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., encouraged pastors to remember that though the call comes with difficulty, we are never without hope. Rocky Purvis, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in South Carolina and brother of Pastor’s Conference President Paul Purvis, told his personal story of struggle in ministry and through the death of his son this past year. Purvis pointed to Job and how Job remained true to God, His Word and the hope of eternal life in order to finish well.

Dr. Willy Rice, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater
Dr. Willy Rice, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater

Adam Suit

Laughter filled the air as Charles Lowery, president and CEO of Lowery Institute for Excellence, opened the Monday morning session with colorful stories of life and ministry and the struggles that come in the midst of serving, understanding that our human nature will constantly work against us. Referring to it as our “Adam suit” Lowery said it’s no wonder God has to kill it before He can take us to heaven.

Dr. Charles Lowery, President and CEO of Lowery Institute for Excellence, Inc.
Dr. Charles Lowery, President/CEO of Lowery Institute for Excellence

“Color Brave not Colorblind”

Erik Cummings, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Carol City, ended the morning session with a challenge to struggle with racial reconciliation for the sake of the call, being “color brave” rather than colorblind.  “If the church is silent, who else will point the people in the right way.  We must open our mouths about racial reconciliation.  It creates tension but we are in church so we might as well tell the truth,” Cummings said.

Rev. Erik D. Cummings, Sr. Pastor of New Life Baptist Church of Carol City.
Rev. Erik D. Cummings, Sr. Pastor of New Life Baptist Church, Miami

Obedience Develops Faith

The Monday afternoon session began with a message from Bernie Cueto, campus pastor of Family Church campus at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Cueto reminded us that only God is great when we’re in the midst of a storm and sometimes it is after we obey God that circumstances get harder, but through the storms that come after obedience, God develops our faith. Cueto learned this as God brought him through brain surgery and ultimate healing. Dr. Robert Smith, professor of Christian preaching at Beeson Divinity School, told the story of struggling with depression after his son was murdered and ultimately offering love and forgiveness to his son’s murderer.

Bernie Cueto, Campus Pastor to nearly 4,000 students, faculty, and staff at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
Bernie Cueto, Campus Pastor to nearly 4,000 students, faculty, and staff at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
Dr. Robert Smith Jr., Professor of Christian Preaching and holds the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School.
Dr. Robert Smith Jr., Professor of Christian Preaching and holds the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School.

A Fresh Charge to Pastors

Dr. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Tenn., and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrapped up the 2017 Pastor’s Conference by reminding pastors of the charges Paul gave to Timothy, calling him to preach the Word, exercise discipline, bear hardship, share the Gospel, to finish well and to die well.

Dr. Steve Gaines, Sr. Pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, TN.
Dr. Steve Gaines, Sr. Pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, TN

2018 Pastor’s Conference Officers

Officers for the 2018 Pastor’s Conference were elected and include Erik Cummings, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Carol City for president, Matt Crawford, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sebring as first vice president, and Freddie Hinson, Jr., pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Clearwater, as second vice president.

By Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Convention, November 13, 2017

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.