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Prayer is news at the SBC

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)—Prayer is news at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis.

A chaplains’ luncheon and a Missional Network discussion also may yield a few lines of ink.

This year’s prayer emphasis at the Southern Baptist Convention has been boosted by the efforts of Indianapolis-area pastors who have caught a vision of what can happen when people spend more time praying.

At last year’s meeting of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, a first-of-its-kind prayer room featured videos, maps and other visual aids along with Bible verses, specific requests and journals to facilitate prayer. The room was filled throughout the annual meeting, and the results were overwhelming, Dale Eakes, this year’s SBC prayer team coordinator, told Baptist Press.

“Churches are discovering more creative and innovative ways to incorporate prayer into their congregations,” said Eakes, pastor of Warren Baptist Church in Indianapolis. “A local pastor shared with me that his church knew what worship was and that they were good at it, but prayer was not something they practiced very much together.

“He has changed his services so that now instead of worshipping 95 percent and praying only 5 percent or less, they have sought to include prayer in at least 50 percent of their service. The results: New converts have been added and a greater sense of the need to do something great in the name of Jesus is sweeping over the congregation,” Eakes added.

Indianapolis churches are realizing a passion for church planting and evangelism on a level that has not been seen in a long time, the prayer coordinator said.

“The great part is that the leaders of these ministries are local pastors who understand the need for prayer and have taken that passion to their local churches,” Eakes said. “The local association is on fire to see something great happen in the name and grace of Jesus. This is a fire that is quickly spreading throughout the state.”

At the SBC annual meeting, messengers are urged to pray throughout the convention hall during the hour preceding each session, and they’re asked to visit the prayer room to ask God to direct the decisions being made during the business proceedings.

“The prayer room at the SBC is a national ministry, but it will be driven by the passion of the local prayer warriors,” Eakes said.

Among several events to be held in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting:

— Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Douglas L. Carver will be the featured speaker at the chaplain’s luncheon on June 9.

Last June, Carver became the first Southern Baptist since 1954 to lead the U.S. Army’s chaplains when he was promoted to a two-star general.

The luncheon, from 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. on Monday, will be held in the Indiana Convention Center’s Sagamore Ballroom 7 on Level 2.

Carver, a native of Rome, Ga., grew up in a Christian home prior to graduating from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with an M.Div. He also holds a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Army War College. An ordained Southern Baptist minister, he has pastored churches in Kentucky, Colorado and Virginia.

— The North American Mission Board’s Missional Network will hold a dinner and discussion on Monday, June 9 at Buca de Beppo restaurant in Indianapolis. Participating in a panel discussion will be Kerry Shook, founding pastor of Fellowship of the Woodlands in The Woodlands, Texas; Brian Bloye, founding pastor West Ridge Church in Hiram, Ga.; and Daniel Floyd, lead pastor of Lifepoint Church in Spotsylvania, Va.

“Networking has become a critical part of our culture and to this generation,” said Mike Cogland, director of the Missional Network. “It’s important to connect with others who are likeminded. I hope we’ll come away from this time with more defined ideas for reaching our specific communities.”

The dinner and discussion will begin at 4:30 p.m. The cost is $10 per person or $15 for couples for the first 150 people. To register, visit http://guest.cvent.com/i.aspx?5S,M3,61685b89-43e5-45d3-aaba-aa3ebc27fe46.

— The annual Founders Fellowship Breakfast will be held at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 10 in the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, Ballrooms 1-4 on Level 2. Keynote speaker Eric Redmond, second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will speak on “The Reformation That Must Come.” Redmond is pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Md., and a member of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees. The deadline to register is May 20. Registration is available online at www.founders.org/conferences/ffb.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston, with reporting by BP staff writer Erin Roach.

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