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Evangelists explore pastor, seminary partnerships

ST. LOUIS (BP) — Building relationships with pastors was the emphasis of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists as it gathered in St. Louis June 12 for a worship service and business meeting preceding the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting there.

“I really felt led of the Lord this year to make this the year we mix and mingle with pastors at the convention,” COSBE President Phil Glisson, who has been a vocational evangelist 45 years, said during the business session. “… Pastors do not know us, especially these younger guys. They don’t even understand what we’re all about.”

Some 40-50 pastors attended the worship service, which was hosted by St. Louis’s Tower Grove Baptist Church, an increase from the typical number of pastors who attend the annual pre-convention event, COSBE reported. Among the service’s highlights were a message from Glisson and the posthumous induction of two evangelists into the Hall of Faith, an honor bestowed upon evangelists “who have ‘fought the fight’ and ‘kept the faith,'” according to COSBE’s website. The service included music, testimonies and ventriloquism as well.

The business session, also held at Tower Grove, included the election of new officers and discussion of strategies for partnering with the six SBC seminaries to promote the biblical office of evangelist.

At the worship service, Glisson used the biblical story of Zacchaeus to illustrate the proper way to approach Jesus. In urging attendees to “approach Jesus joyfully,” Glisson defended the practice of issuing an altar call at the close of an evangelistic sermon.

“A lot of people say, ‘People don’t like to walk the aisle anymore,'” Glisson said. “Well, they still do at graduations, don’t they. They still do at wedding ceremonies. And … they still do it five days a week in front of millions of people on the CBS network on The Price Is Right.

“People do not mind walking forward to the front down an aisle. It just depends what’s up there for them,” Glisson said, adding, “I am not saying you’ve got to come down some aisle to the front of a church to be saved.”

At the end of the worship service, COSBE announced the induction of Felix Snipes and Larry Walker into the Hall of Faith. Snipes was an illusionist and magician who witnessed more than 200,000 professions of faith during his ministry. Walker, whose 66-year ministry focused on New York among other areas, took 500 mission trips to 127 countries.

At COSBE’s business session:

— A new slate of officers was elected, including President David Stockwell and Vice President Sammy Tippit, both of Texas.

— A motion was adopted to form an “exploratory committee” to meet with representatives of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary regarding a potential Hall of Faith display on the seminary campus. Such a display would not replace the current display of Hall of Faith members at the SBC building in Nashville. COSBE members discussed approaching all six SBC seminaries regarding potential joint promotion of evangelism.

— A report was given concerning two websites owned by COSBE: voiceoftheevangelist.org, a web directory of COSBE members and the resources they publish; and sbcevangelists.org, COSBE’s home page.

In addition to COSBE’s events at Tower Grove, the group manned a booth in the SBC exhibit hall and hosted a June 13 ice cream reception for pastors at the Marriot St. Louis Grand.

“We love the pastor,” Glisson said. “We want to be a team player with him, to work alongside of him to help edify their church.”