So for the next few days I’m representing my local congregation at the Atlantic Baptist Convention in Sackville, New Brunswick. For those of you who remember the roadtrips from Fredericton to Nexus in Halifax, I had a burger at the Wendy’s for memories’ sake. It’s not the same without the rest of y’all.
In the meantime, the convention is named “Oasis: Refreshment for the Journey”. Yeah, sounds kinda new-agey touchy-feely to me too. That was in keeping with the raft of emergent books available at the book room. They have everything by Rob Bell, including Velvet Elvis (which I review here). That said, there are also some worthwhile resources there too, and I’m eyeing a short small group video series on engaging culture that has Tim Keller and Brenda Salter-McNeill.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Half the fun today was in the travel. To save money, instead of flying into Moncton and taking a cab, I flew into Halifax and rented a car. Originally I was going to take a bus, but the airport at Halifax is a chaotic mess right now, and I was going to go insane if I spent another 10 minutes there. This would’ve been a bad thing, as I have work on Monday morning and I don’t know anybody who can prescribe me psych medication.
After a rather beautiful drive (I was able to plug in my ipod, and listen to a John Piper sermon on the way… Podcasts are a gift of God, and a great way to redeem long road trips), I arrived in Sackville, and promptly got lost. Yes, I know Sackville is a tiny community, and I’ve been here before, but never underestimate a man’s ability to mess up directions and not ask anybody.
Anyway, after a bunch of false starts, I figured where I was, and managed to get the car parked and find my room. Along the way I managed to meet many people that I had connections with, from Jon Allen, who is an IV Staff Worker here at Mount A, to Blake Bartlett who now has a Church on the mainland, to fellow delegates from our sister congregation of West End, and even Frank Guinta, our extremely supportive area minister.
Among the new people I’ve met are a few of the pastors at Brunswick Street Baptist (where I sometimes attended when I lived in Fredericton), a few of the other younger pastors in the Convention, who seem as fired up to spread a passion for Jesus Christ as any I have met (and thus fired me up a little more), and a pastor/missions leader who sends pastors to India for short terms to teach preaching and the like to indigenous pastors there.
While there are no doubt differences of opinion, in some cases serious ones, with these fellow Baptists, it was good for the first day just to meet a few of them and share how God is working in the Atlantic provinces among Baptists.
Tonight’s worship was amazing too. The Penny Merchants led us in a series of songs and hymns that focussed our hearts on Jesus and His glory, to prepare us to hear the word delivered by Dr. Gary Nelson of Canadian Baptist Ministries. In a simple, heartfelt exposition of portions of Phillipians 3, He admonished us representatives of our local congregations to strive forward for the goal of Jesus Christ in our local ministries, not centred on the many things we need to do, but doing those things focussed on Jesus Christ. It was a very passionate message, but I fear that after sitting under Gary’s careful exposition of scripture for 2 years now, that I may be spoiled for many other preachers. I find myself expecting a more systematic exploration of the actual text as opposed to motivations based on the text.
After another short session of worship (which included the singing of my favourite hymn, bar none), Greg Jones (who was in Newfoundland earlier this year talking about the incorporation of convention) gave an explanation of the many ministries that Baptists support through United in Mission and other convention-wide initiatives (announcing even a new one, a program for planned giving for the convention called “Legacy for Ministry”). It was inspiring to hear a few “snapshots” of ministry in convention, including the pastoral support given through regional ministers, and the prayer given for Church plants throughout convention.
The evening ended with a short prayer and a meeting for a “kitchen party” at the dining hall. Unfortunately, I skipped that as I’m tired.
And so, goodnight dear readers!