Dear Southern Baptist,
The annual Convention in Indianapolis is an opportunity for Southern Baptists to experience the heart and passion of our ministry across America and around the world. In a world facing terrorism and global unrest, we must rise to the challenge of our times.
This great gathering in June is at a crucial time in our nation's history, and we have been called to the Kingdom for such a time as this. I want to encourage pastors and church leaders to join us in the great city of Indianapolis, which is in the heart of our nation. I especially want to encourage seminarians, students, and young pastors and leaders to participate. It is important that we connect the emerging generations to the cooperative missions of Southern Baptists.
We will hear powerful preaching, experience Christ exalting worship, share life-changing testimonies, transact Kingdom business, and commit to world evangelism and missions. President Bush is invited to speak, and we will anticipate his message as we respond to the opportunities and responsibilities of sharing the love of Christ and influencing our culture.
Please begin praying for the Southern Baptist Convention, asking God to pour out His Spirit upon us. Kingdom Forever will be our focus, and now is the time for us to be at our best for our Redeemer King.
For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. ~ Matthew 6:13
President, Southern Baptist Convention
Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas
The Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting, June 15-16 in Indianapolis, will be anything but one-dimensional, reflecting the depth of this year's theme, Kingdom Forever.
It will continue to build on the SBC Kingdom Family emphasis from last year's annual meeting in Phoenix, with activities scheduled for family members of all ages.
The closing session on Wednesday evening will feature:
• Franklin Graham, who is following in his father's evangelistic footsteps while also working at the forefront of human needs crises worldwide.
• The Gaither Vocal Band, led by Bill Gaither, one of the most beloved and prolific songwriters in Christian music.
• An overview of Southern Baptists' worldwide missions through 5,000-plus workers sent out by SBC churches under the auspices of the IMB.
In addition to Franklin Graham, "Kingdom Challenge" messages will be delivered by Roy Fish, longtime professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; David Jeremiah, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California; and evangelist Jay Strack with the Student Leadership University in Orlando, Florida. This year's convention sermon will be preached by Steve Gaines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gardendale, Alabama.
Online messenger registration, introduced for last year's annual meeting, opened February 1 at www.sbc.net. Hotel options and reservation information currently is posted on the Web site.
The June 14-15 Pastors' Conference preceding the SBC annual meeting will focus on the theme of "Jesus Came Preaching" with such speakers as Adrian Rogers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in suburban Memphis, Tennessee; Bible teachers Stephen Olford and Voddie Baucham; and Mike Haley from Focus on the Family.
The Woman's Missionary Union annual meeting, focusing on the theme of "Christ Followers," also is slated June 13-14 in Indianapolis and will feature a number of missionaries with the SBC's International Mission Board and North American Mission Board.
Convention manager Jack Wilkerson of the SBC Executive Committee, noted the family activities being planned in conjunction with the annual meeting.
"At this year's convention in Indianapolis, activities for the entire family are being planned, starting with preschool childcare, an age-graded enhanced children's conference, and a specially designed Centrifuge for teens."
Details are posted on the SBC's Web site, www.sbc.net.
The Centrifuge-type camp — offered for the first time at an SBC annual meeting — will be akin to the popular summer camps for students in grades seven through twelve offered nationally by LifeWay Christian Resources. It will be "a life-changing camp," said Joe Palmer, director of LifeWay's student events department — "a classic summer camp experience where each thing we do is designed to help kids respond to God's call on their lives." It will begin on Monday night and continue through Wednesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, families can venture to a number of area attractions, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, through the services of Lew White Tours of Indianapolis. Routes will include the Indianapolis Children's Museum, Indianapolis Zoo, and NCAA Hall of Champions. Tickets will be available in the information area of the convention center.
"Nine downtown hotels are within easy walking distance, with six hotels connected directly with the convention facility," Wilkerson said, noting that shuttle services also will be available to and from all airport-area hotels and from several downtown hotels outside walking distance to the Indianapolis Convention Center.