Annual Gathering

Brothers and sisters,

By the time you’re reading this, I will be in Winston-Salem at the Annual Gathering for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBFNC). For those that may not know what all happens at the Annual Gathering, this is basically CBFNC’s annual state meeting where ministers from CBF churches all over North Carolina come together to meet each other, worship together, go to workshops, and conduct business for the state de-nomination.

That description of it sounds too formal. At the Annual Gathering, I’ll get the chance to meet up with friends and colleagues from all over the state — people I haven’t seen since last year’s Annual Gathering. I’ll get a chance to hear how they’re doing and what their congregation has been up to over the last year. I’ll also get to meet new folks and build some new relationships. More likely than not, I’ll get to catch up with a group of people from a church I served at as an intern years ago (they send a group of about 6-8 people every year). It will be a wonderful time to see folks and let them know what good things we’re up to here at Hope Valley.

The workshops end up being wonderful opportunities to listen to other leaders from around the state or from around the country that have new and interesting ideas on things to do at church. They provide chances for those of us gathered there to talk about the things happening in our local contexts and encourage one another. There’s a saying, “Theology is done in community,” and the workshops provide that community.

And the worship services end up being wonderful moments where we can all come together and worship God together. All different people from all different contexts, bringing their gifts and their talents to bear to offer God honor and glory and praise. Preachers offer words of encouragement and challenge. Worship leaders provide musical experiences that are interesting, varied, and affirming. And testimonies offer even more insight into the incredible creativity of God’s people and God’s churches all across our state.

All in all, Annual Gathering is a great time of reflection, introspection, community, and inspiration. I’m sincerely looking forward to this Thursday and Friday.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben