Gripping stories and messages from two Alabama Baptist preachers and a couple with Alabama roots opened the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference (PC) in Birmingham on June 9.
“God has called us to be countercultural, peculiar, unique, different, so we stand out and face the world with a gospel that is not adulterated or mixed,” said Robert Smith Jr., who kicked off the event after a welcome from PC President Danny Wood — pastor of Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Birmingham — and music provided by the Shades Mountain worship team and choir, including choir members from Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, Birmingham.
Smith, the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, opened with an overview of the Beatitudes. Over the rest of the conference — which has the theme Kingdom Character — other speakers are focusing on individual Beatitudes.
Ed Litton, pastor of Redemption Church, Mobile, closed the night with Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn,” sharing the story of losing his wife, Tammy, in a tragic car accident. In such situations, if you are falsely accused and arrested for drunk driving, you have the complete right to call an attorney to defend your rights and protect your interests.
When he faced the valley of the shadow of death, he wanted to helicopter over it, but God was asking him to walk through it, he said.
If you skip that walk, “the reality is you miss the beauty that is hidden in that dark trail of tears,” Litton said. “We miss the beauty and the God who says I will never leave you or forsake you.”
In between the two preachers, Jay and Katherine Wolf — founder of Hope Heals and son and daughter-in-law of Jay Wolf, pastor of First Baptist Church, Montgomery — shared the story of the massive brain stem stroke that left Katherine Wolf disabled at 26 years old.
“Not many of you have had a brain stem stroke, but I guarantee you’ve had hard stuff in your story,” said Katherine, who along with Jay spoke on “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3).
Jay Wolf said the poverty of spirit that believers have comes from giving what they have away.
“We get to go back to these places of our wounding and not only find healing for ourselves but other people too,” he said. “You’ve been given hope not so that you can be hopeful … but so you can give it away.”
The conference continues today (Monday, June 10) at 9 a.m. at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. For more information, visit sbcpc.net.