CHATTANOOGA — The opening night of the 2023 Summit focused on two of Tennessee Baptists’ favorite “ships” — worship and fellowship.
Continuing a long-standing tradition, the annual meeting began with two separate worship services, held simultaneously, at two different venues.
One service, the Tennessee Reunion, was held at Chattanooga Convention Center (the host site of this year’s Summit), while the annual All Nations Worship Celebration was held at nearby Red Bank Baptist Church.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, referred to the opening events as Tennessee Baptists’ version of “homecoming night.”
Although there were no corsages or boutonnieres anywhere to be seen, the night did indeed have the homecoming feel. All around the convention center — and also at the church — attendees gathered in various spots for hugs, conversations and laughter with friends, old and new.
Among the many highlights of the night was the presentation of the Eagle Award. See full story HERE.
Roc Collins, strategic objectives director for the TBMB, brought greetings to the ethnically diverse crowd at the All Nations Celebration. He observed that Tennessee Baptists are committed to winning the entire state for Christ, regardless of nationality
“Heaven will be filled with people from every nation and tongue,” he declared.
William Burton, ethnic church planting specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, said, “This event gives Tennessee Baptists an opportunity to see the diversity of congregations that make up our network of churches.”
The worship celebration included ethnic choirs singing in their own language and a concert of prayer focusing on the unity of the church, revival in America, the lost, government leaders and families.
Pastor Ender Palencia of Sugar Land Baptist Church in Sugar Land, Texas, delivered the closing message of the worship celebration, challenging the audience to remember that an almighty, powerful God can save anyone who surrenders their life to Him.
At the convention center, the Reunion Service opened with powerful praise music, including “The Goodness of God” and other songs, led by the worship team from Silverdale Baptist Church.
The night also featured a special tribute to Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, with a video presentation and recognition of a large group of DR volunteers who were in attendance.
Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the TBMB, said that in the eight years that he has been with the TBMB, the DR teams have answered nearly 150 responses and have positively impacted the lives of countless individuals who were dealing with difficult situations. “During that time, we have seen hundreds of people come to know Jesus — and that’s what we are really all about,” Jones said.
The service concluded with a message from Bryant Wright, president of Send Relief.
Wright, a former pastor in Georgia, said he was honored to “share to the program” with the Disaster Relief volunteers, and noted that Send Relief and DR often work together on various responses.
Wright, who had just returned from a trip to Israel, preached from Psalm 122, encouraging attendees at the service to pray for Israel and for peace in the Middle East.
Wright guided attendees through a historical timeline of events involving Jerusalem. He said many of today’s current conflicts were foretold in the Bible and are directly connected to the Second Coming.
“Remember, when you pray for peace in Jerusalem, you are praying for the coming of our Lord,” he said.
Summit resumes on Monday with the annual Pastors’ Conference, and continues through Wednesday. B&R