By Bill Webb
Springfield - More that 275 people from Missouri, Kansas and Iowa gathered in Springfield April 23-24 for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri's 2004 general assembly, featuring testimonies, training, worship and a concert by recording artist Kate Campbell.
Under the theme, "Everyone...Everywhere: Being the Presence of Christ," the annual gathering began with a Friday evening missions banquet at University Plaza and Convention Center and concluded with worship on Saturday at University Heights Baptist Church, featuring CBF Hispanic network coordinator Bernie Moraga.
During the closing session, Moraga preached on being the presence of Christ and described the kind of people CBF people are.
"I believe we are Jesus people who follow Jesus," he said. "We listen to learn from world religions. We accept truth. We live our lives in obedience to Jesus.
"We believe Jesus is the Savior of the world, and we want to be a continuation of His life and ministry," he said.
"In order to be the presence of Christ, we need to move beyond our culture," Moraga said. "Jesus went beyond His culture to make a difference in someone's life."
The banquet featured testimonies by four people involved in CBF-supported ministries.
Jennifer Harris, a CBF "student.go" missionary and a student at Southwest Baptist University, recalled an assignment among Afghan people in San Francisco. She and others in her group went around town two-by-two to meet Afghanis in shops and wherever else they could meet and engage them in conversation.
Liberty attorney and Central Baptist Theological Seminary student Chris Thompson described Project Warm Embrace, the project he and his wife, Dana, and their two children organized to collect more than 2,000 blankets and coats for Native Americans.
Thompson said the project rose out of a concern he developed while doing research in South Dakota with CBF's Rural Poverty Initiative.
Jim Layman, CBF-endorsed chaplain at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, described the chaplaincy as a mission field, providing a "ministry of presence" to those they serve. CBF has 352 chaplains worldwide who work in hospitals, the military and other places of service, he said.
The opening session culminated with a concert by Campbell, a "preacher's kid" who mixes her songs with stories of her growing-up years in Mississippi and Alabama during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
During the CBF's traditional breakfast meeting the next day at University Heights church, members unanimously approved a strategic plan, including a mission statement, core values and focus statements.
Also approved was a 2005 CBFMO ministry plan budget of $278,697. The organization also has a Show Me Missions Offering goal of $40,000 and anticipates pass-through Cooperative Plan gifts of $235,864 to benefit various Missouri institutions and national CBF global missions.
Conferees had several opportunities for training, including a full-day leadership seminar with Brad Berglund, author of "Reinventing Sunday," preceding the general assembly.
Participants in the general assembly also had a choice of 23 specialized break-out sessions following their Saturday morning business session.
(Laura Webb contributed to this article. For complete coverage of the CBF general assembly meeting, see the May 6 print edition of Word&Way.)
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.