“July 29, 2020
TEXAS STATE ASSOCIATION OF FREE WILL BAPTISTS
It was my privilege to represent the Texas State Association of Free Will Baptists as a member of the General Board of the National Association of Free Will Baptists (NAFWB) at the 2020 Convention held July 21-22. There will be plenty of reports of the details of the meeting (go to nafwb.org/convention and click “2020 Convention Report” for the upcoming ONE Magazine article), so I want to offer my perspective.
I have been attending our national convention for many years. In fact, I’m not sure how many conventions I have actually attended. I was even a seminar presenter one year. For the most part, the convention hasn’t changed much over the years. I was recently reminded that the third annual convention (1939) was held at the now closed Bryan church. I took a little time to read the minutes from that meeting (http://www.onemag.org/minutes/1939.pdf) and it was surprising how similar it was to our modern conventions…until 2020.
I don’t have to remind you that 2020 has been unlike any year we have ever experienced. The same is true for our churches at both the local and denominational level. In God’s providence, the ones who crafted our denomination’s constitution included a mechanism to handle the business of our movement when meeting as a large group is impossible. Each of our state associations elects a member to the General Board of the denomination. That General Board was called into session this year on behalf of the denomination.
I want to offer a very public thank you to Pastor Tommy Swindol and the leadership of The Donelson Fellowship (donelson.org) in Nashville, Tennessee for opening their facilities and hosting this year’s meeting. They were gracious and generous hosts.
The meeting itself was a bit surreal. Each member of the board was seated at his own six-foot table spaced several feet from the nearest table. The moderator and other officers were on the platform each at their own table, also spaced out from one another. Demonstrating the reach of the Coronavirus pandemic, several of the agency reports were given via recorded video due to exposure or illness as a result of the virus.
While you can find the details of the various reports elsewhere, there was a common theme throughout the meeting. 2019 was one of our best years for many of our agencies. 2020, thus far, has been one of our worst. This is especially true in relation to financial issues. There were many blessings to celebrate. Five years ago, IM set a series of ambitious goals to extend their footprint and increase their effectiveness. God allowed them to reach and exceed all of those goals. Six years ago, North American Ministries ended the year with a significant deficit. They ended 2019 in a strong financial position, including a sizable surplus. Most of our departments told similar stories about a strong end to 2019.
Marcus A. Brewer – Moderator/State Office Coordinator P.O. Box 2716 – Bryan, TX 77805-2716
Phone: (979) 774-3125 – E-mail: email@example.com
2020 is shaping up to be a trying year for all of our departments. Please continue to be generous where you have the ability. They have all made adjustments to their respective budgets. It is easy to support your denomination’s ministries when things are good and little sacrifice is required. But the truth is, they need our support now more than ever.
In spite of the difficult circumstances, some things about the convention were the same as always. While the fellowship usually has a much larger circle, it was still sweet. Renewing friendships, even at a distance, is truly one of God’s graces. Being able to celebrate the successes of our ministries and mourn the defeats is always much better with others around to share.
Even though the 2020 National Convention was isolated and remote, measures were taken so others could still participate. And through today’s technology, you still can! Much of the information from the convention, including a number of videos (evening worship services, convention seminars, and more) can be found at nafwb.org/convention. More videos can be found at the NAFWB Facebook page (fb.com/nafwb/videos).
Please pray for the leaders of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. Pray for and support your denominational departments. And pray we can all meet together again next July in Memphis, Tennessee for the 2021 National Convention.
Assistant Moderator/General Board Member, Texas State Association of Free Will Baptists Pastor, New Beginnings”