Published Jul 26, 2022
“Oh wow!” That’s what a woman in her 80s said time and again as she wandered from booth to booth at the Shasta Baptist Association’s Mission Fair, learning about the work of Southern Baptist ministries at the associational, state and national levels.
The woman’s sister also attended the Mission Fair. As a result, she told her granddaughters—both still in elementary school—that they would attend California Baptist University (CBU) someday.
Those were just two results of the June 25 Mission Fair hosted by First Southern Baptist Church in Red Bluff. The event featured more than a dozen exhibitors, including Gateway Seminary, the International Mission Board, CBU, California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) Disaster Relief, Woman’s Missionary Union and the Shasta Association. The event gave churches in far Northern California a better idea of what Southern Baptist cooperation entails.
The Fair drew approximately 60 attendees, including exhibitors, representing five of the association’s 12 churches. The event kicked off with prayer and introductions then featured nearly three hours when attendees could come and go, browsing booths manned by the various ministries represented.
“Our purpose for doing this is to educate and excite our people about the opportunities that are out there and the different ways their Cooperative Program money is used in California and around the world,” said event co-organizer Carol Bohrer, wife of Shasta Association director of missions John Bohrer. The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ unified channel for funding state, national and international missions and ministries.
“We find that most of the people in our churches have no clue what it means to be Southern Baptist aside from” believing certain doctrines, Bohrer said. “They are not connected to the opportunities that are out there.”
The Shasta Association’s remote location near the Oregon state line made the Bohrers wonder whether state and national Southern Baptist ministries would be willing to send representatives to participate. After all, it was only for 12 churches—and they were spread far apart.
But CSBC and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) ministries were glad to participate. Cathie Smith, CSBC Women’s Ministry Network leader, said the Fair “was a great opportunity for our SBC entities to let churches know some of the resources available to them.”
The Bohrers “organized the event and did a fantastic job of getting a variety of SBC partners involved,” Smith said. A highlight was “connecting one-on-one with the different churches as well as connecting with our SBC partners.”
Other exhibitors included the CSBC Women’s Ministry Network, multiple churches in the association and VBS leaders. The next day at the Bohrers’ church, New Life Baptist Church in Gerber, Mission Fair attendees were telling others that “it was fascinating to know all the different ways California Southern Baptists have ministries and all the different things they do that they had never heard of or thought of.”
Smith urged other associations to consider holding similar events.
“An associational missions fair is a great opportunity for associations to connect their churches with resources available to them,” she said, “as well as give a small glimpse of Cooperative Program dollars in action through our SBC entities.”
Bohrer echoed the sentiment. “Do it,” she counseled sister associations. “There is a lot of excitement that is built. There’s a lot of knowledge out there that our people just don’t get. If you can put all of that in one building … it’s well worth it.”