DALLAS—Following the election of H.B. Charles as the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference, diversity has been among the anticipated emphases at this year's conference.
But Charles says diversity, while important, will be a secondary focus as pastors and their wives gather June 10-11 in Dallas. When selecting speakers to invite, faithfulness in the pastorate was his primary criterion, in keeping with the conference's "Fulfill Your Ministry!" theme, drawn from 2 Timothy 4:5.
The racial and age diversity of the speakers—who are black, white and Hispanic—represents that "God uses different persons, different personalities and different backgrounds," said Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
Yet "my first concern was that these men I've invited are faithful preachers," Charles said, "and that these are men who represent what 2 Timothy 2:15 says: that they rightly handle the Word of Truth."
The speakers also all "share the commonality of having pastors' hearts and knowing what it is to serve the Lord faithfully in the context in which they are called," he said.
Among the speakers is Frank Pomeroy, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, who will share his testimony of trusting God after a gunman murdered 26 people, including Pomeroy's daughter, during one of the church's worship services last summer.
Along with preaching, the Pastors' Conference will feature worship and prayer to undergird the ministry of pastors and their wives. The sessions at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center will be held prior to the SBC's June 12-13 annual meeting there.
The worship team from Shiloh will lead music in every session, with special musical guests to be announced as the conference approaches. One musical highlight will be a combined performance by the choirs of Shiloh and Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis-area Cordova, Tenn., where SBC President Steve Gaines is pastor.
Speakers were not assigned biblical texts, Charles said, but each speaker was asked to address the topic of "faithfulness in ministry."
Speakers for Sunday evening (June 10, 6-9 p.m.) at the Pastors' Conference will include Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas; James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga.; and Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas.
Monday morning (June 11, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.) will feature messages from Bryan Carter, pastor of Concord Church in Dallas; Cameron Triggs, pastor of Grace Alive in Orlando, Fla.; and Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.
Monday afternoon (1:30-4:30 p.m.) speakers will include Ray Pritchard, president of Keep Believing Ministries in Dallas; Pomeroy; and Robert Smith, Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Samford University's Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala.
Monday evening (6-9 p.m.) speakers will include Daven Watkins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pelham, Ala.; Charlie Dates, pastor of Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago; and J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and a candidate for SBC president.
Charles hopes attendees will leave challenged and encouraged to persevere in ministry.
"You get no credit for how well you start," Charles said. "Anyone can start fast. The question is: Can you finish strong?" (BP)