Published Jun 18, 2019
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — As if a rousing two-hour Sunday worship service was not enough, the Southern Baptist Evangelists fellowship added a two-hour sing-along Monday afternoon as part of their gathering in conjunction with the 2019 SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.
The June 9 worship service took place at McElwain Baptist Church in Birmingham; the sing-along was June 10 in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.
“We’re here for one reason: to worship Jesus Christ,” Sammy Tippit told the Sunday morning congregation. Tippit is president of the Southern Baptist Evangelists, the new name for what has been known as the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, or COSBE.
Joe and Kim Stanley of Fayetteville, Ga., led in worship with “Heaven Came Down,” “Holy Spirit” and “How Great Thou Art.” A soul-stirring piano solo of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” was offered by Jeff Cleghorn of Bonaire, Ga., during the offertory, and Amy Stockwell of Katy, Texas, sang “It Took a Lamb” in a high soprano before the morning’s main message.
Time was set aside for the testimony of a new evangelist, Luke Hockenjos of Ruston, La. His mom prayed for him during several years of an addiction to meth, and one day on a bridge in 2014 he heard a voice say, “This isn’t the life I’ve planned for you,” Hockenjos recounted.
“When Jesus saves you, He saves you from hell,” Hockenjos said. “Church, it is time to stop playing games and start leading people to Jesus.”
Tippit introduced the morning’s main speaker, Junior Hill of Hartselle, Ala. “Junior, you’re one of our heroes,” Tippit said, as he presented Hill a plaque in honor of his 52 years in evangelistic ministry.
Hill drew from Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:28 about the lilies of the field in a message directed toward those who want to serve the Lord.
Asking about their willingness to serve the Lord in obscurity or not be popular, Hill reminded that lilies are content as they are, and God takes care of them.
The Southern Baptist Evangelists group met for lunch and a business meeting Tuesday at the Redmond Hotel in downtown Birmingham.
“Nobody understands an evangelist like an evangelist,” Frank Shivers of Columbia, S.C., said at his table during lunchtime conversation. “We’ve all walked that path.”
Vocational evangelists, according to the SBCEvangelist.org website, are men and women who feel a special call from God to serve in a way that “entails the freedom to go anywhere at any time and to serve as a harvest evangelist, a music evangelist, as a revivalist, or as a special conference or evangelistic event leader.”
A total of 96 people or couples are members of the evangelists’ organization. Most preach, sing or lead conferences. Laura Torres of Georgia adds a twist, combining her skill as a potter with leading people to Christ. A complete list of Southern Baptist evangelists on the website provides their contact information.
Presentations were made at the luncheon to Tippit and his wife Tex for 50 years in vocational evangelism; Royce Williams, in ministry since 1977 and in vocational evangelism since 1991; and Joe and Kim Stanley for 25 years of service.
Tippit recognized four evangelists who died during the last year: Tom Cox, Ron Herrod, Bailey Smith and Leon Westerhouse. “We’re here on the shoulders of so many,” Tippit said. “We’re so appreciative of them.”
In his president’s report, Tippit reiterated the four action plans he announced last year: he is dialoguing with the North American Mission Board to rebuild trust; engaging with pastors to break down barriers that might preclude them from using the targeted soul-winning skills of evangelists; identifying younger evangelists and ethnic evangelists; and working to use today’s — and tomorrow’s — technology to help evangelists spread the Gospel more effectively than ever before.
“We’ve made a good start on that 2020 vision,” Tippit said, challenging attendees to be aware of the younger and ethnic people God is calling into vocational evangelism.
“We’re going to make a real strong effort this year to identify, mentor and educate them in how to do the work of an evangelist,” Tippit said, adding that he’s reaching out to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for help in raising the awareness of seminary students to the possibility of vocational evangelism.
Tippit also mentioned some ideas he has for the 2020 SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., utilizing that area’s creativity.
“I believe they have used innovation to propagate that which is fantasy,” Tippit said. “Everything we do in Orlando will embrace technology to reach the world for the truth of Jesus Christ.”
With no old business, the group members approved a motion to follow up on Tippit’s thinking related to next year’s SBC annual meeting.
The 2018-2019 financial statement of activity was approved. Total revenue by the end of the May 31 fiscal year was $45,256.22; total expenses, $40,261.11.
Tippit brought up two concerns: the need for someone to handle the day-to-day business of the organization and the need for fundraising. Approval was given for an online meeting in six months.
A motion to retain the current slate of officers passed unanimously: Tippit of San Antonio, Texas, as president; Frank Shivers of South Carolina, vice president; Amy Stockwell of Texas, secretary/treasurer; Royce Williams of North Carolina as parliamentarian; and Kay Cox of Arkansas as recording secretary.
“There’s never been a greater day for the ministry of the evangelist,” Tippit told Baptist Press. “As the world grows darker, the hunger for God grows deeper. My prayer is that the church will embrace the role of the evangelist and that we will join hands to shatter the darkness.”