RIDGECREST, N.C. — Going from sunup to way past dark is just how it is at Black Church Week. The praising, preaching and fellowship never stop.
The Black Church Leadership and Family Conference (better known as Black Church Week) welcomed almost 1,000 people to the campus of Lifeway RidgecrestConference Center July 18-22. The black church area of Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention sponsored the event.
More than 70 breakout conferences were offered focusing on church leadership, discipleship/Sunday school, evangelism, prayer, and spiritual renewal/motivational.
The highlights of each morning and evening, however, were the worship times. Each morningT. Vaughn Walker, senior pastor of First Gethsemane Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and WMU professor of Christian ministries at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, preached using Lifeway’s YOU Sunday school/small group curriculum as his reference.
Preaching from YOU’s lesson on “When Sinners Show Up,” Walker said, “You need to give yourself an attitude check and ask yourself if you’ve become ‘too good’ to reach out to certain people?”
He asked them to think about how they react to people out of their cultural “normal” and whose lifestyle made them uncomfortable.
“Who do you find repulsive?” he asked. “It’s all about perspective.
“All of us, to some degree, are repulsive,” he said. “We may look clean on the outside, but we all have sin inside us.”
Using the passage from Luke 7:36-50, when Jesus went to Simon the Pharisee’s house for dinner and the prostitute came in and washed Jesus’ feet, Walker said four primary lessons were taught:
–Don’t avoid sinners.
–Get the right perspective.
–Realize that sinners make the best converts.
–Know that people will want to know who this Jesus is.
“Jesus went beyond the normal human perspective,” he said. “He went to a Pharisee’s house, and then he let this woman – identified by Simon as a prostitute — come in and touch Him!
“This woman risked everything to get to Jesus,” he continued. “Everything bad that could have happened to her already had happened, so she had nothing to lose. She was desperate to get to Jesus.”
In the passage, Jesus wanted Simon to see that one who is given more, loves more; one who receives more grace is more appreciative.
“This woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears,” Walker said, “but Simon didn’t even extend the courtesy of a basin. She kissed His feet, but Simon didn’t even offer a kiss on His cheek. She anointed His feet with fragrant and expensive oil, but Simon didn’t even offer Jesus some olive oil for His skin or hair.
“Simon did only the minimum,” he said. “It wasn’t really wrong not to offer those things, but it would have been the courteous and respectful thing to do.”
In the passage when Christ told the woman that her faith had saved her and that her sins were forgiven, people sitting around the table wondered who this Jesus was that He forgave sins.
“They didn’t realize they were just as filthy as she was,” Walker said. “Our problem a lot of times is that we have too much dignity.
“My wife will praise God anytime, anywhere. But I was raised to have too much dignity,” he said, pulling himself to his full height and straightening his clothes.
“I don’t like to get all worked up and sweat,” he said. “But when we think about what all God has done for us, we should never, never have too much dignity to shout and praise Him and be most grateful.”
Evening and afternoon preaching times featured James Dixon, senior pastor of El Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md.; James Graham, senior pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Herndon, Va.; Brian King, senior pastor of Ezekiel Baptist Church in Philadelphia; and Delroy Reid-Salmon, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in the Bronx, N.Y.
Participants were offered the opportunity to start each day at 6:15 a.m. with a time of praise and worship led by Gwen Williams, a folklorist, worship leader and author from First Baptist Church, Picayune, Miss. Williams, who is known throughout the Black Church world in her “Ms. Chocolate” persona, led this time as well as serving as the children’s storyteller during the worship times.
by Polly House, Communications Department
T. Vaughn Walker, senior pastor of First Gethsemane Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and WMU professor of Christian ministries at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, preached using Lifeway’s YOU Sunday school/small group curriculum as his reference.
Fred Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, and his wife, Elizabeth, visit with a woman sharing about her spouse and marriage, during the “6 Secrets to a Lasting Love” breakout conference co-taught by the Luters.