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Florida Baptists to consider “What Really Matters” during their annual meeting

By Barbara Denman

October 24, 2012


ORLANDO—President David Uth will ask Florida Baptists to discern “what really matters” so “we can determine what is excellent and be strategic and intentional in these times” when the annual Florida Baptist State Convention meets Nov. 12-13 in Orlando.


“Too much calls and competes for our attention,” Uth said. “I believe the busyness of our lives has become a distraction.”

In planning the meeting, Uth said he was drawn to Philippians 1:10, and the theme, “What Really Matters?” The answer to that, he said, is reflected in each session’s theme—Family, Faith, Relationships and Legacy.


“We are focused on the tyranny of the urgent. We can do a lot of things while not doing the best thing—what must we do to fulfill the Great Commission,” he said.


“We can be a great church and a great pastor, and still be ineffective from the stand point that we are not doing the basics. We must return to renewal and a recommitment to the basics of the church—that is to follow Christ.”

Uth, who is completing his second term at the president of the Florida Baptist State Convention, will host the annual meeting at his own church, First Baptist Church of Orlando, where he serves as pastor.


While developing the program, Uth said he incorporated “elements we don’t normally have to add a little flavor to the Convention.”


During the Monday night session highlighting “What Really Matters is Family,” Convention messengers will hear inspirational messages from Lt. Clebe McClary in honor of Veterans Day, Cindy Winters, founder of Grace and Hope Ministries; and Emerson Eggerichs of Love and Respect Ministries.

Vietnam veteran McClary, is “an incredible speaker” said Uth, and the recipient of three Purple Hearts, the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. McClary will share his Christian testimony of courage and survival on the battlefield as well as the years afterwards when he endured more than 30 surgeries.

Winters of Maryville, Ill., saw her husband, Pastor Tom Winters, murdered while he preached on a Sunday morning. She will speak overcoming such a tragedy while discovering God’s grace through a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.


Through his seminars and books, Eggerichs promotes and teaches healthy interpersonal relationships based on Biblical principles. Uth credited the former pastor with leading the “best marriage conference I’ve ever attended.”


Highlighting the Tuesday morning session’s theme “Your Faith Really Matters,” the Convention president will interview John and Lena Yeh, a physician and teacher from Cliffside Park, N.J. Before immigrating from China to the U.S., the couple was persecuted for their Christian faith by China’s Communistic government during the Chinese Cultural revolution.

Also that morning, Jeffrey Singletary, pastor of Exciting Central Tampa Baptist Church in Tampa’s urban core, will deliver the annual convention sermon. He has served the multi-national, multicultural congregation since 1992.


During the Tuesday afternoon session, “What Really Matters is Relationships” will feature the state convention president leading a panel discussion of selected Florida Baptist pastors “who will talk about our lives as church leaders and address issues we all face,” said Uth. Related to this, a video will be shown that interviews church members asking for questions they would ask their own pastor.


Also on Tuesday afternoon, John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention since 1989, will preach a doctrinal sermon. In great demand as a Biblical expositor, Sullivan speaks in more than 150 Florida Baptist churches each year.


What Really Matters is Legacy” will be emphasized during the Tuesday night’s closing session.


John Cope, pastor of Keystone Community Fellowship in North Wales, Penn., will preach the first sermon of the evening. Cope, who previously served as executive pastor of First Baptist Church in Lakeland answered God’s call to plant a new church in the Philadelphia suburbs in 2000 as part of Southern Baptist’ Strategic Focus evangelism emphasis.


The Convention will be concluded with the annual President’s Message, delivered by Uth, who has served the Orlando Church since 2005. Under his leadership First Baptist continues to be a pacesetter in Cooperative Program support, mission outreach and baptisms. He has led church in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.


Throughout the two-day meeting Florida Baptists will conduct business of the Convention including the consideration of a Cooperative Program of $31.6 million and the election of the president.


Tim Maynard, pastor of Jacksonville’s Fruit Cove Baptist Church, and Clayton Cloer, pastor of Orlando’s First Baptist Church of Central Florida are among those expected to be nominated for the post.


The $31.6 million proposed Cooperative Program budget for 2012 is identical in amount to the 2011 budget. It will increase the percentage amount allocated to the Southern Baptist Convention by one percent to 41.5 percent, as Florida Baptists work towards sending 50 percent to national mission causes, creating a 50/50 division of funds between state and national mission causes.


Meanwhile the percentage allocated to the state convention will decrease from the 58.5 percent allocated in 2012 to 50 percent within seven years. The $31.6 million will be divided between the SBC, 41.5 percent; Florida Baptist Convention operating budget, 46.60 percent; and Florida Baptist agencies and institutions, 11.81 percent.


In other business messengers also are expected to consider several proposed revisions to the constitution and bylaws of the Florida Baptist State Convention, including a change to Bylaw 2 which defines a cooperating church.


On Saturday prior to the Convention, Florida Baptists will disperse across Central Florida working with local churches and the Greater Orlando Baptist Association to host block parties, sports clinics and food giveaways as part of “Crossover Orlando.” Volunteers are needed to minister and witness in this evangelistic outreach. If interested in participating, contact Jeff Hessinger, 800-226-8584, ext. 3096.


Messengers attending the Florida Baptist State Convention can pre-register on line — click here; or order messenger cards by calling 800-226-8584, ext. 3151. For additional details on the meeting and surrounding activities, click here.

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