By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
Roger Willmore said he will hit his knees a little differently in the mornings after hearing the last sermon of this year’s Alabama Baptist State Evangelism Conference.
The sermon, preached by Jeremy Morton, was an “arresting and sobering” message, said Willmore, director of missions for Calhoun Baptist Association.
“He preached on Mark 1 about the prayer life of Jesus and closed his sermon with powerful personal examples of how to develop the discipline of prayer,” Willmore said.
After hearing them Willmore went home and printed out theologian John Stott’s morning prayer in order to have it close at hand in the mornings. And he said he will “never forget” Morton’s impassioned exhortation to “get up, get up, get up” and use the morning hours to pray.
“The conference was a time of refreshing for me,” Willmore said.
He wasn’t alone. More than 500 people gathered for the conference, held Feb. 25–26 at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham.
Many shared testimonies of being challenged and inspired to pray and share their faith more urgently.
It was a “sweet time,” said Sammy Gilbreath, director of the office of evangelism for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, which organizes the conference.
He said each speaker for the main conference and related events encouraged everyone to put feet to his or her faith when it comes to evangelism.
Speakers for the conference were:
- Kie Bowman, pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church/The Quarries Church in Austin, Texas
- Jay Lowder, evangelist, author and founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries in Wichita Falls, Texas
- Russ Quinn, pastor of Enon Baptist Church, Morris
- Jeff Meyers, pastor of First Baptist Church, Opelika
- David Eldridge, pastor of Dawson Memorial Baptist
- David Burton, evangelist from Jacksonville, Florida
- Dennis Watson, pastor of Celebration Church, New Orleans
- Morton, co-pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia.
Christian apologist Alex McFarland also spoke at the banquet for pastors, staff and wives Feb. 25, sharing about how to reach millennials. Diana Davis, a minister’s wife and author, spoke at the ministers’ wives luncheon Feb. 26.
Stories on each speaker’s message will be published in upcoming issues of The Alabama Baptist.
Gilbreath said another highlight of the conference was the “incredible” way Dawson Memorial Baptist hosted the event.
“Their pastor, their staff, their volunteers — they had such a servant’s heart,” he said.
Dawson’s choirs and orchestra provided music on Monday night, followed by the Enon Baptist choir on Tuesday.
Singers Sandi Patty and Lynda Randle also led worship, and Frank Jones played the piano for the pre-session music each day.
Those at the conference got the opportunity to explore a variety of evangelism resources and ministries at an exhibit area near the church sanctuary.
And all through the conference program associational mission strategists from Birmingham-area associations prayed for the local Crossover outreach event that will take place in June in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
Eldridge said it was an honor for Dawson Memorial Baptist to host the conference.
“What a humbling experience to witness so many pastors, pastors’ wives and lay leaders gathered together to pray, worship and affirm the great call that we have to be salt and light in the state of Alabama,” he said.
“Our prayer is that God will use this time to encourage Alabama Baptists as they prepare for the Southern Baptist Convention and for the Crossover events planned for Birmingham this summer,” Eldridge added.
Next year’s evangelism conference will be held Feb. 24–25 at Heritage Baptist Church, Montgomery.