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ANNUAL MEETING UPDATES: SBC online pre-registration; new books by Hemphill; …

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Online pre-registration will remain open throughout Saturday, June 20, for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Louisville, Ky.

Thereafter, messengers from local churches attending the SBC’s June 23-24 sessions will be directed through the traditional registration process at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Convention manager R. Clark Logan, vice president for business and finance with the SBC Executive Committee, said online pre-registration “is quick and easy and available with complete instructions at www.sbcannualmeeting.net.”

Messengers from churches that register online can avoid waiting at the counter upon arrival at the convention. By registering online, the SBC website gives a church a messenger reference number form to be printed out and presented by each messenger at the SBC registration booth in exchange for a nametag and a set of ballots. The appropriate church-authorized representative must complete all online registrations.

For the traditional registration method, churches that are unable or opt not to access the online registration can obtain registration cards from state convention offices.

For additional details about parking, hotel shuttles and meals at the exposition center, go to https://bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=30459.

SBC President Johnny Hunt has selected “LoveLoud — Actions Speak Louder Than Words” (Matthew 5:16) as the theme for this year’s sessions.

Hunt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock, told Baptist Press he hopes the LoveLoud emphasis will “challenge our denomination to demonstrate to our communities, our country and around the world the difference Jesus Christ makes in our lives and in our churches.”

The annual meeting is being held in Louisville in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the founding of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (For a list of SBTS sesquicentennial events, go to www.sbts.edu/about/sesquicentennial.)

Numerous evangelistic events are slated for June 20 as part of the annual Crossover outreach involving Baptists locally as well as volunteers from across the country.

At Churchhill Downs, for example, Crossover volunteers will visit the racetrack, witness to the Hispanic horsemen and invite them to nightly revival services at 10 area Hispanic churches, including a new church plant located almost across the street from Churchill Downs, Iglesias Baptista Victoria (Victory Baptist Church).

For more information about Crossover Louisville ’09, go to www.crossoverlouisville.com.

NEW BOOKS BY KEN HEMPHILL TO DEBUT AT SBC — Two new books from Ken Hemphill, Southern Baptists’ national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth, are being released in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting in Louisville.

“You Are Gifted: Your Spiritual Gifts and the Kingdom of God” is part of the Empowering Kingdom Growth book series by Hemphill, while “I Am” is an examination of John 14:6 — Jesus’ declaration that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (HCSB).

Hemphill provided comments to Baptist Press about both new books. — You Are Gifted: “As I have travelled across our convention, the number one issue raised by both pastors and laity is the lack of people willing to become involved in Kingdom activity…. You Are Gifted looks at all the key passages concerning spiritual gifts in the New Testament. Its goal is not simply to provide information but prayerfully to accomplish transformation….

“Many people are confused because they believe they must find their gift on one of the ‘gift lists’ in the New Testament. I believe those lists are only intended to be illustrative and not comprehensive. God is gracious to gift His church to accomplish its ministries in every generation and thus He is quite capable of providing new gifts as the Kingdom assignment requires. Gifts are gracious expressions of the Father, enabling us to join Him in Kingdom activity….

“The clearest summary of Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts is found in Romans 12. The twin foundational pillars for discovering our gifts is the presentation of the body and the transformation of the mind. When we surrender ourselves fully to God and allow His Spirit to transform our thinking, we will find our place of service in His Kingdom.”

— I Am: “Recent studies indicate that many persons who would consider themselves to be ‘evangelical Christians’ do not believe that Jesus alone can provide access to the Father. If we lack conviction that Jesus alone is the way, the truth and the life, we will not be motivated to share our faith. John 14:6 … is greatly loved by believers. Yet it is viewed by non-believers as being both narrow and restrictive. I deal with each assertion in [John 14:6] by following it through the entire Gospel….

“How then do we deal with the accusation that a ‘loving God’ would not be so restrictive that He would provide only one way to heaven? The clarity and simplicity of the ‘singular way’ is the greatest example of His love and His desire that none should perish. Everyone has had the experience of having someone give them multiple options when trying to find a destination. The more directions one has, the more confusing it becomes. Thus man does not need to be a philosopher or theologian to discover the way, he need only look to Jesus.”

You Are Gifted is published by the B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; I Am is published under B&H’s new CrossBooks imprint. A free six-week I Am study guide is in development for use in local churches, to be posted online at www.sbc.net and at auxanopress.com.

MANDISA TO SING FOR NAMB — Mandisa, the Grammy and Dove award-nominated singer who rocketed to fame during the 2006 “American Idol” season, will perform as part of the North American Mission Board’s presentation at the SBC on Wednesday night, June 24.

With a powerhouse voice and winning smile, Mandisa won a multitude of fans and wowed the critics during her appearances on American Idol. But just as importantly, Mandisa, a committed Christian, reflected her faith in word and song to viewers, competitors and judges alike.

“My faith certainly went through some tests of fire,” Mandisa says, “but it’s stronger because of that and it’s also made me want to know more about it and how to articulate it. I think I came out of that whole experience [American Idol] understanding Jesus better. I’d been a little sheltered in Christian circles for a while and it helped me realize the kind of impact Christians can make when they actually step out of their boxes and get involved in the world around them.”

In addition to the performance by Mandisa, NAMB will debut a video produced by NAMB staff members who visited Iraq earlier this year, where they were embedded with U.S. troops in Baghdad. The video features NAMB-endorsed military chaplains and their ministries to soldiers in Iraq.

NAMB also will roll out the latest phase of its GPS (“God’s Plan for Sharing”) evangelism initiative, recapping recent results from pilot GPS projects during April in Pennsylvania, Texas, California and Georgia.

CONVENTION PREACHER UNDERSCORES UNITY — John Marshall, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., will preach the convention message Wednesday morning, June 24. “It will be a straightforward declaration of what I think are things that we should be united on,” Marshall said in an interview with The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

“I think you can safely say that the Bible and missions will be the main emphasis of the sermon.”

Marshall, who has led Second Baptist for more than 13 years, said he was stunned to be selected, calling it “one of the top preaching honors of my life.”

He said he intends to preach “just like I always do…. I don’t want to be wearing a new suit. I don’t want to be trying out a new style, a new approach. I just want to yield myself to the Lord as I’ve tried to do for 42 years [in the ministry] and let Him use my skill, my personality, myself as the vessel through which He works.”

According to The Pathway, Marshall is the first Missouri pastor to deliver the convention message since World War I. The Missouri native is the current first vice president of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.

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