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Creativity of exhibitors reflects creativity of Florida Baptists

By Margaret Colson

December 5, 2013

JACKSONVILLE—The creativity of exhibitors in the display hall of Florida Baptists’ 152nd annual meeting mirrored the creativity of Florida Baptists in their outreach efforts for the kingdom of God.

Close to 50 exhibitors set up sometimes elaborate displays to communicate to visitors not only the breadth and depth of Florida Baptists’ ministry and outreach throughout North America and the world but also opportunities to become personally involved.

From a “farmers market” to a “doctor’s office” to a photo booth with fake mustaches and noses, the exhibit hall brought in hundreds of annual meeting attendees for conversations, resources and even commitments.

In the center of the exhibit hall at North Jacksonville Baptist Church was a signature-green John Deere tractor, surrounded by bales of hay, seed packets and wooden boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The display was dubbed, “Church Planting Market,” to resemble a farmer’s market, said Al Fernandez, lead strategist for Florida Baptists’ Church Planting Group. The theme of the display was “Planting Today, Multiplying Churches Tomorrow,” with Fernandez explaining that planting a church could be likened to planting a crop, with both needing continued sustenance and nurture to grow to full potential.

The creative team from Church by the Glades in Coral Springs helped develop the agricultural display that was designed to pique the interest of passers-by in considering the variety of options of becoming involved in church planting.

At the display of the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, attendees donned silly disguises such as hot pink plastic glasses and mustaches to have their photographs snapped in a fun photo booth.

Beyond the fun, however, those stopping by the booth discovered opportunities to become involved in the many ministries of the children’s home, including mission trips to a Haiti orphanage, assistance with special events, donations and more.

“Churches are the key to what we do. They support us through financial and people resources,” said Julie Boyd, vice president of church relations for the children’s homes.

“We can’t be in every church in one day. Our time meeting people here is priceless,” she said.

While there, one Florida Baptist minister and his wife stopped by the booth for a quick greeting. The wife had grown up in a Florida Baptist children’s home, and staffers today were gratified to see the smiling result of the children’s home ministry from earlier years.

Florida Baptists’ Church Health Group set up its display to resemble a physician’s office, complete with a relaxing massage chair. Encouraging annual meeting attendees to sit for a few minutes in the massage chair, Emanuel Roque, team strategist for Florida Baptists’ Leadership Ministries Team, explained that the display was intended to communicate the desire of the church health group to meet churches at their point of need, helping strengthen churches and support church leaders.

The display for the Florida Baptist Witness included a detailed timeline of the state newspaper’s 130th anniversary of telling the story of Florida Baptists. Although times and methods have changed, the overarching purpose of the Witness remains constant.

Additionally, visitors to the always-buzzing-with-activity exhibit hall could play “corn hole” with the group from Baptist Campus Ministries, sit on a park bench to chat with Woman’s Missionary Union leaders, purchase a just-released history book, Favored Florida, or listen in on an interactive “family room” dialogue between evangelism leaders.

Other exhibitors included Baptist colleges and seminaries, a caricature artist, vendors of church furniture and many state convention emphases. LifeWay Bookstore also had a temporary bookstore at the church.

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