The 153rd Annual Session of the Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention was one for the record books – and also for hard drives. For the first time in ASMBC history, we carried out the blessed burden of carrying out this climactic annual gathering virtually. An unprecedented pandemic shifted preparations from sanctuary capacities, vendors, and parking capacities, to videographers, virtual spaces, and session premiere times. Though the circumstances of this year have brought about much discomfort and disequilibrium, faith in God, stable leadership, and a spirit of unity produced a faith-fueled Virtual 153rd Annual Session operating under the theme “Moving from Promise to Possession by Experiencing the Promises of God through Obedience to His Commands.”
The Annual Session kicked off with an official opening from our Convention President, Rev. Dr. Melvin Owens. During his opening remarks, he declared the Annual Session open for business and worship. Following the opening, the convention heard a powerful devotional message by Rev. Courtney Meadows, pastor of the Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church of Montgomery. His exposition of Jesus feeding the multitude encouraged all pastors, leaders, and believers to “do what the Lord says the Lord’s way.” Rev. Dr. Tyree Anderson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ensley, delivered a robust Annual Sermon from Isaiah 45 entitled, “In God I Trust.”
The Laymen’s Hour was started with devotional moments. Pastor Courtney Meadows led the convention in songs like “Victory is Mine.” Rev. Wesley Thompson, Pastor of the Bethel Colbert Baptist Church, gave the exposition of the theme to this year’s convention work. Using the leading verses of Genesis 15, he provided for us biblical foundation for what it means to experience the promises of God. He engaged both the spiritual and the social, neatly engaging the current circumstances while conveying their role in how God leads us to His desired destination for us. As he conveyed the gap and troubles between God’s commands to Abram in chapter 12 and the promises to Abram in chapter 15, he pressed the idea by stating, “God sometimes causes us to wrestle with some of these things before God reveals His promises to us.”
Laymen’s President Alvin Moore walked his way through a portion of the Joshua narrative, encouraging the men to live in ways that are pleasing to God. His desire for the men of our convention was for them to know what kind of footprint they are leaving. In this session, all convention officers greeted the delegates, and we were updated about the present status and work at Selma University. Newly elected University President, Dr. Eddie Hill, greeted the convention for the first time publicly. He has decades of experience working for the Alabama State Department of Education and promised the ASMBC that together we will make Selma University what she ought to be. He closed by stating, “I will – with the help of the Board – I will run Selma University.”
At 7:00 pm, the President’s Hour was presented with Second Vice President, Rev. Darryl Caldwell as the presider. This session highlighted the mission work of the ASMBC. It is important to note that the work of the Convention never wavered – in fact, our mission efforts have been maximized throughout the year. From providing pandemic relief through a partnership with the National Baptist Convention by mobilizing churches throughout the state to serve as hubs for fresh produce giveaways, to providing immediate aid, relief, and support to those who suffered losses during natural disasters just weeks before the Annual Session, even to partnerships to provide free mass COVID testing, the Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention, in the words of President Owens, is “doing God’s work in this time of need!”
President Owens addressed the convention, calling us to both faith and action. He stated definitively, “We have been prepared, we have been called, for the times in which we live. “If we fail to live up to our calling, if we fail to be who He has called us to be and do what He has put on us, then we have no right or reason to clamor about the situation in our world.” Throughout President Owens’ address, the connection between his words and the exposition of the theme by Pastor Thompson became implicitly clear. When the directions of God are questionable and the destination of God for God’s people is concealed, God’s children must rest assured that we follow a God who comes through on God’s promises and carefully leads us, even when we are unsure where God leads.
View the Annual Session on the ASMBC YouTube channel here.
Pastor Byron Jackson
Public Information Officer, Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention
Pastor, Greater Thankful MBC, Anniston, AL