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CP Stage to encourage a ‘laser focus’ on unity, generosity, diversity

SBC Executive Committee leaders hold a panel discussion on the CP Stage at the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting in Nashville. BP file photo

ANAHEIM (BP) – A drive toward unity in the Gospel and taking the Great Commission to the nations will permeate the presentations and discussion at the Cooperative Program Stage at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting, organizers say.

“It will be an opportunity for messengers to hear firsthand reports about a variety of SBC missions and ministries, and ‘listen in’ on hard-hitting and relevant panel discussions which orbit around important issues for Southern Baptists,” said Willie McLaurin, interim SBC Executive Committee president and CEO. “The 2022 Cooperative Program stage has been designed to put a laser-sharp focus on unity, generosity and diversity.”

The theme of the annual gathering, held this year at the Anaheim Convention Center, is “Jesus: The Center of It All.” Due to shifting personal schedules, messengers are encouraged to monitor the Annual Meeting app for the latest information on CP Stage speakers and times.

Both the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board will feature prominently, with the latter hosting various panel discussions ranging from the future of the SBC to church planting and adoption and foster care.

First Baptist Church, Cleveland, Tenn., Pastor Jordan Easley will moderate several of those discussions. The first will be “Creating A Church Culture That Looks Like & Ministers To Your Community” on June 13. It will be followed by “Forecasting the Future of the SBC: What Are The Main Things We Need To Focus On As We Move Forward To The Future?”

National Next Gen Director Shane Pruitt and NAMB National Collegiate Director Paul Worcester will discuss student and collegiate ministry issues with “Reaching the Next Generation.” NAMB President Kevin Ezell – who alongside his wife, Lynette, has raised six children, three of them adopted – will lead a panel on adoption and foster care.

Sessions commence each day at 8:30, with the June 13 slate beginning with “Making Disciples Who Live on Mission” led by Sandy Wisdom-Martin, Woman’s Missionary Union executive director-treasurer. Later, the National African American Fellowship will host a panel on “Finishing Well” and that afternoon McLaurin will be interviewed about his new book “The Winning Way.”

“We all have lessons that we pick up along the way,” McLaurin said. “Those lessons have shaped our philosophy on how we engage and develop others. The lessons deepen our faith and challenge us to think and live differently. The set of working principles in this book were derived from such a lesson.”

IMB President Paul Chitwood will be on stage as well for at least two of the entity’s three sessions. Those sessions will cover the importance of having an ongoing Southern Baptist missionary presence around the world as well as how the IMB is sending more missionaries and opening more pathways for Southern Baptist churches to participate in short-term and long-term missions work.

The IMB and Send Relief have been active in ministering to those impacted by the war in Ukraine since the beginning. Another session will address how the IMB has used digital strategies for Gospel engagement in and around the country during the conflict.

Earlier this year Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg testified to what is special about ministry in California in a Baptist Press First Person. Those points are certain to resurface in the panel he will lead in the final Monday session – “As California Goes.”

Luis Lopez, SBC EC executive director for Hispanic Relations and Mobilization, will lead an especially timely session June 15 titled “Leading the Church out of the COVID-19 Crisis.”

“I really hope this session will provide those attending an opportunity to learn more about the impact the COVID crisis has had on ourselves, the church and the world,” he told BP. “We hope to discuss what are some of the lessons we, as churches, have learned from the pandemic. It is one thing to lead the church during a crisis; it is another thing to lead it out of it.

“The idea is to help us think about how we are coming out of this period and the challenges the post-COVID church faces. We want to learn from real practitioners – pastors from different church sizes – what we can learn about how to lead the church out stronger and learn how we are adapting to the new realities.”

McLaurin agreed that a variety of voices can only make the SBC stronger for the purpose of spreading the Gospel.

“The platform participants will provide relevant and usable information that will assist pastors and churches in advancing the Great Commission,” McLaurin said. “I am thrilled that the Cooperative Program panel discussions speak to every generation.”

Southern Baptists will also have more than 147,000 square feet of exhibit hall space in which to speak with representatives from various organizations. Exhibit information regarding SBC entities will be updated below as it is received by Baptist Press.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s booth will highlight its mission to fulfill the Great Commission in all areas of life. Visitors can talk with professors and ask questions of the admissions team to learn how Southeastern equips students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission. The booth will include ample seating and charging stations for visitors to relax and recharge their phones. Visitors can also receive free books and enter to win giveaways – including a new iPad.

Opportunities for additional giveaways and to learn more about how Southeastern is equipping women for ministry and scholarship will be found at Southeastern’s women’s booth at the Women’s Expo. Women are also invited to join Southeastern’s Women’s Leadership Breakfast on June 15, at 7 a.m., which will focus on the importance of personal Bible study and feature author Jen Wilkin.

The school’s Alumni and Friends Luncheon will be held June 15 at noon in the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott with the theme “That All May Know: Every Nation, Tribe, People, and Tongue.”

GuideStone Financial Services

GuideStone participants can visit with representatives about their retirement account or health plan coverage. Daily giveaways will be available while supplies last. On June 13 during the Pastors’ Conference, GuideStone will have a giveaway notebook for adults and an activity and colors for kids. The next day there will be free copies of some of GuideStone President Emeritus O.S. Hawkins’ books. Finally on June 15, water bottles will be available. GuideStone’s popular highlighters will also be available each day.

GuideStone will once again offer its Wellness Center where messengers can receive a free health screening and report suitable to share with your family doctor. Messengers are encouraged to sign up in advance at GuideStone.org/WellnessBooth. Messengers can also order free materials for Mission:Dignity Sunday.

Southern Baptist Foundation

How can I make an impact for the Kingdom? What will my legacy be? These are just a few of the questions visitors to the Southern Baptist Foundation booth will be encouraged to explore. Visitors will be challenged to think about causes they love and discover ways to support them.

At the booth, messengers can see the Foundation’s 75th Anniversary giveaways including sunglasses and chocolates as well as register to win a jersey autographed by Cooper Kupp, Super Bowl MVP and receiver for the Los Angeles Rams.

Messengers may remember the giant cash-filled soda bottle. It’s back, and guessing the amount of cash in the bottle makes the money yours. For more information, visit the booth or email [email protected].

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Southwestern Seminary’s exhibit will highlight the Fort Worth institution’s commitment to helping students live, find and refine their callings through academic programs and hands-on ministry training. President Adam W. Greenway and other faculty will host the exhibit to explain the seminary’s programs and reconnect with alumni. Daily giveaways will feature “Live Your Calling” and “Find Your Calling”-branded T-shirts and Fellow Carter Everywhere Mugs.

Tickets to the alumni and friends luncheon on June 15 at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel are available online and will be available at the exhibit while supplies last. During the luncheon, two new distinguished alumni will be honored, and luncheon attendees will receive the newest Seminary Hill Press title, “The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture,” edited by Greenway and David S. Dockery, distinguished professor of theology.

Visitors to the exhibit also will receive the latest issue of Southwestern News, with features on the seminary’s Hispanic Programs; alumnus Yaroslav Pyzh, president of the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary; 2008 Master of Divinity graduate Chap. (Maj.) Brandon Denning, who is a former guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; alumnus Joshua Crisp, who pastors First Baptist Church of Bethalto, Illinois; and an excerpt from the recent Seminary Hill Press book, “The L.R. Scarborough Treasury.”

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

In anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling on the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission will provide several resources  to help Southern Baptists think holistically about how to care well for both mothers and children in a potential post-Roe world. Ultrasound machines will be on display to demonstrate how the Psalm 139 Project provides a window to the womb for abortion-vulnerable women. Attendees will also have an opportunity to receive a free Psalm 139 T-shirt when they sign up to receive updates on the ERLC’s life work both in Washington, D.C., and in our churches.

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College will unveil a new booth at this year’s annual meeting that highlights the For The Church vision for theological education. A featured giveaway – For The Church T-shirts – also returns with a new look. Visitors will be able to receive a shirt and discuss any prospective student questions with a member of MBTS’ Admissions team.

Midwestern Seminary will also host FTC Anaheim: Micro Conference at noon on June 14. This year’s conference is titled “Six Humble Affirmations,” and will feature speakers Jason Allen, Kevin Ezell, Albert Mohler, Paul Chitwood, Mark Dever and Matt Carter. Its annual alumni luncheon will be held on June 15 at noon with the theme “The Future of the SBC.”

Send Relief

From North American ministry centers to hundreds of international compassion ministry projects, Send Relief helps Southern Baptists provide boots-on-the-ground ministry to those in need. At the Send Relief booth, attendees will learn about upcoming Serve Tour and mission trip opportunities – both national and international. By scanning a QR code in the booth, guests can register for a chance to win a free trip to serve at Send Relief’s first international Serve Tour.

International Mission Board

International Mission Board leaders hint at bringing a fresh look to 177 years of cooperative missions work and fresh story to remind us all of why the IMB exists. Visitors will learn how to join in pursuit of the Revelation 7:9 vision – a multitude from every nation, all tribes and peoples and languages, worshiping Jesus.

Limited tickets may still available for the IMB dinner on June 13 at 5 p.m. IMB President Paul Chitwood, Executive Vice President Todd Lafferty and IMB missionaries will share about how God is at work among the nations.

North American Mission Board

All across the continent, church planting missionaries are reaching the unreached with the hope of the Gospel. At the North American Mission Board booth, attendees can commit to pray for a church planter through the Pray for Planters website. Using QR codes, they will enter a prayer experience and connect directly with the church planter.

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Visitors to the NOBTS and Leavell College booth will learn about the school’s commitment to prepare servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth and fulfill His mission. The booth will highlight changes taking place on the New Orleans campus, including the newly-updated MDiv program, campus renovations with today’s students in mind and Kingdom-focused degree offerings at every academic level. Faculty and admissions personnel will be on-site to answer alumni and prospective students’ questions about campus life, degree offerings and ministry opportunities in the unique ministry setting of New Orleans.

Lifeway Christian Resources

Lifeway Christian Resources’ 11,000-square-foot exhibit will offer a store containing a wide selection of books, Bibles, small-group studies, boxed cards, Spanish resources and other Christian products. Other features include onsite training on digital curriculum experiences and demonstrations of recent and upcoming enhancements at lifeway.com. Lifeway staff will help messengers and guests plan and select appropriate materials for group Bible studies and offer information on Lifeway’s ongoing studies including Bible Studies for Life, The Gospel Project, Explore the Bible, and You, as well as short-term Bible studies. Digital tools to enhance personal relationships with Christ and help with group discipleship will also be available.

Ministry leaders are invited to sign up at lifeway.com/growing for 20-minute coaching sessions to discuss restarting groups and building a disciple-making ministry in your church. Lifeway’s Auxano team will be on-site to consult with church leaders about vision and mission. Visioneering Studios representatives will be available to talk with churches about intentional environments for ministry.