ATLANTA (ABP) — Three years after the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant drew 15,000 persons from various Baptist groups to Atlanta, a second major event is being planned for mid-November with large church-based gatherings to be held across the nation.
The major sessions will originate at the Atlanta gathering and be beamed to the various locations. Hosts in each location may provide additional programming and will coordinate ministry opportunities to close out the event.
“This will be quite a different format than before,” former President Jimmy Carter told a group of about 25 Baptist leaders he invited to the Carter Center April 4 to hear a report on the first-stage planning and to offer suggestions.
Carter said holding the meetings in churches in various cities will reduce overall costs and permit more people to be involved than the single large gathering held in Atlanta in 2008. All participants, he said, will be “bound electronically and through the Spirit of Christ.”
Longtime Baptist leader Jimmy Allen, who spearheaded the planning of the earlier event, will do so this time along with David Key, director of the Baptist studies program at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Emory is providing office space for the planning and Mercer University is managing the finances.
Allen and Philadelphia pastor William Shaw, former president of the National Baptist Convention Inc., will co-chair the event with Carter serving as convener.
Organizers admitted that the time frame is short for planning such a major event and requested help in securing host churches in various cities and contributions to cover costs. Currently, San Antonio, Texas, is the only confirmed site other than Atlanta. Details about the locations and finalized program will be released later.
Shared programming via satellite from the Atlanta site is scheduled to begin on Thursday evening Nov. 17 and conclude on Friday evening Nov. 18. Two prominent African-American Baptist preachers, National Baptist Convention of America president Stephen Thurston and Progressive National Baptist Convention president Carroll Baltimore, will speak. Additional program personalities and plans will be forthcoming.
Saturday, Nov. 19, will be devoted to ministry in various settings where participants gather. The overall theme of the meeting will again be tied to Jesus’ call in Luke 4:18-19 to “proclaim the release of the captives, and the recovery of sight for the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
Allen said the Saturday ministry events at the conclusion of New Baptist Covenant II should be groundwork for ongoing ministries and not something “just for a day.”
Carter said the 2008 meeting broke down racial barriers and brought Baptists from different backgrounds together. “This will give us a chance to build on these past successes,” he said.
John Pierce is executive editor of Baptists Today.