GALVESTON–The Baptist General Convention of Texas gathered for its third worship celebration on the evening of November 15. After a full day of workshops and fellowship, the convention gathered with a willing heart to worship.
The evening began with a prayer by Robert Sloane Jr., President of Houston Baptist University, who also gave a brief overview of the university’s future plans.
Following this welcome and introduction, the John Bolin and Kingsland Church Choir led the attendees in a special time of congregational praise.
After the music, David Hardage shared the Executive Director’s Report.
Following Hardage’s report, Katie Fruge, Director of the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering Program, emphasized the tremendous help Texas Baptists brings to communities in need by donating and supporting the Offering. She then led the convention in a time of prayer and reflection before the keynote address.
Responding to difficult times
Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, delivered the evening’s message. He began by acknowledging the unprecedented, difficult times the world is currently in. This past year has brought unique challenges and many complications culturally, socially and spiritually, especially for those in leadership positions, he said.
However, “the moment we’re in does not pause the mission we’re on,” explained Stetzer.
Stetzer went on to preach from John 20:19-21, which recounts the disciples’ actions after Jesus’ resurrection, in order to encourage all Christians today in their individual mission and purpose.
He explained that fear is always the opposite of faith and that peace is always the Christian response. He encouraged Christians today to trust in the Lord and bring His peace into conflicting or uncertain situations.
Stetzer then reminded the congregation that, “the cross is always our hope and motivation.” After Jesus appeared to His disciples, He showed them His resurrected body, scarred hands and pierced side.
“By doing this Jesus reminds not only the disciples but believers everywhere, that He had not only risen, but that He had resurrected and defeated death. He is a victor whose work is now finished. We can trust him today,” encouraged Stetzer.
Finally, Stetzer reminded the congregation that “we, as followers of Christ, go out into the world because Jesus first came to us.”
“In the midst of this time, we need a group of people that says, ‘We are not afraid because Jesus has already risen from the dead.’ We just need to be willing to say, ‘Here I am Lord, send me,’” said Stetzer.
Honoring ten years of service
The worship celebration concluded with a special, surprise presentation in recognition of Hardage’s ten years of service as Texas Baptists Executive Director.
Executive Board Chairman Clint Davis presented Hardage with a crystal plaque in the shape of Texas. In addition, a video featuring past Texas Baptists executive directors and officers, current staff, and pastors and institutional presidents from around the state was shown to recognize Hardage’s contributions to the Convention.
“There’s a sweet spirit of unity and peace in the Convention right now,” Craig Christina, associate executive director of Texas Baptists, said. “Brothers and sisters, that doesn’t happen by accident. That happens because of the sagacious leadership of Dr. David Hardage, who is a true peacemaker. He has a big tent vision of leading the movement of God’s people that is Texas Baptists, and we would not be where we are today without his leadership.”