NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–About 40 members of the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s executive board and TBC staff prayerwalked downtown Nashville, Tenn., in preparation for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting and the pre-SBC evangelistic Crossover initiatives.
The prayerwalk was held following the May 10 board meeting at the TBC Baptist Center in Brentwood.
The prayerwalkers formed three groups. One group prayed in the downtown area. The second prayerwalked the Downtown Ministry Center, a nonprofit ministry started by First Baptist Church in Nashville, which houses The Next Door, a ministry for women in need and Christian Women’s Job Corps –- Nashville.
The third group prayerwalked Tennessee’s legislative plaza, distributing personalized Bibles to legislators and praying for them. A group led by Roger Freeman, TBC president, and James Porch, TBC executive director-treasurer, presented a personalized Bible to Gov. Phil Bredesen.
“What a biblical blessing,” Freeman said after visiting the capitol grounds. “God was leading us and we followed. We witnessed to them of faith in Christ and about the work of Baptists.”
In the presentation to Bredesen, Freeman told him the Bible was on behalf of 1.1 million Tennessee Baptists in 3,000 churches and missions.
He noted the Holman Christian Standard Bible was produced by LifeWay Christian Resources, which is “within sight of the state capitol and holds special significance to the people of Tennessee.”
“We want you to know of our appreciation for state government and of our leaders. One thing you can always count on from Baptists is that we will pray for you.
“We are commanded by God to pray and support those in authority,” Freeman told the governor.
Bredesen specifically asked for prayer for the TennCare healthcare plan which is facing a budget crisis that may cause thousands to lose their benefits.
Porch thanked Bredesen for his help in the past, especially in regard to the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes relationship with the state’s Department of Human Services.
“We will pray for you,” Porch promised.
Executive board member Frank Crawford, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Kingsport, recommended the prayerwalk at a board meeting last year and was among the participants.
While he was prayerwalking, Crawford recounted, he came upon a police crime squad unit. As he passed the van he saw a policeman sitting in it and decided to thank him for his service. When the policeman rolled down his window, Crawford saw that he was reading his Bible and learned that the officer is an active member of an evangelical church.
Crawford said he suggested the activity for the TBC executive board because it should “do more than make decisions about policies. We need to lead by example.”
He also suggested the prayerwalk because he believes prayerwalking to be “a very effective pre-evangelistic tool. The church he leads prayerwalks on the fourth Sunday night of each month in its community.
Clay Austin, pastor of First Baptist Church in Blountville and TBC second vice president, said he was impressed by the appreciation expressed by legislators. The prayerwalk was important, he added, because it showed the legislators that “we care, we stand for something,” he said.
Mary Brooks, a board member of Knoxville, said she was asked by a legislator to pray for a vote which would take place that afternoon which concerned pro-life, pro-choice issues. Her husband, Harry Brooks, is a state representative from Knoxville.
TBC prayer specialist Don Pierson coordinated the prayerwalk. In a concluding prayer session he asked the three groups to continue praying for the SBC annual meeting and for the 12,000-plus volunteers who will be participating the Crossover evangelistic outreach across Nashville and the surrounding area.
William Maxwell of the TBC staff, who participated at the Downtown Ministry Center prayerwalk, said he was reminded that “constant needs” exist in the city.
Rus Roach, minister of pastoral care of First Baptist Church, asked the prayerwalkers to pray for the thousands of Baptists who will visit Nashville in just a few weeks, for their witness and for those who will try to continue the witness after they leave.
Lonnie Wilkey contributed to this story.