The first two months of 2014 offered more opportunities than any other two months in the history of this ministry. It required an awful lot of travel, but also offered the opportunity of some of the most significant and productive ministry. I really had the opportunity to be in a multitude of different venues.
Here is a brief synopsis.
January 8 – Officiated at the funeral of my good friend Wiley Poundstone. Wiley and I had breakfast together many Thursday mornings at the Farmers’ Market. He was largely responsible for starting the Poundstone Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church – a class that had over 100 men in average attendance.
January 8 & 9 – Spoke at the Memphis Theological Seminary and taught in a seminar, along with Bishop Gary Mueller from Arkansas. David Bush was teaching this course. Memphis is one of the approved seminaries for United Methodist students to attend.
January 11 – Spoke at a celebration event for African Methodist Episcopal Church pastors and leaders. The A.M.E. Bishop is James Davis. His name is James. My name is John. So they advertised the event as James and John – the Sons of Thunder. The Murdoch Chapel was one of the basic sponsors of this event.
January 12 – Taught a Sunday School Class at First United Methodist Church in Montgomery. Rocky and Amelia Barnes are members of that class.
January 13 & 14 – Went to Atlanta, Georgia. About 110 pastors and lay people gathered to look at forming a Wesley Covenant Network which would serve as support and encouragement for pastors and lay persons across our denomination.
January 15 – I spend one day a month as a coach to a few pastors across the country. We do this by telephone. They send me a list of about 5 or 6 questions they would like to discuss. I figure if I can be helpful to some very key pastors, it can have long-range effects.
January 16-19 – I traveled to West Monroe, Louisiana to speak at the E. Stanley Jones Ashram for Northern Louisiana. An ashram has an evangelist and also has a Bible teacher. Dr. Billy Abraham from Perkins School of Theology was Bible teacher. He and I served together in the Confessing Movement. I also preached at the Central United Methodist Church in West Monroe on Sunday morning.
January 19-23 – I left Sunday afternoon for Orlando, Florida, for the Synergy IV Billion Soul Conference. We had about 1,700 pastors, representing some 60 countries, at this meeting. We were able to finalize some of the work of the hubs designed to train pastors to start 5 million churches and win 1 billion people to Christ. There were three days of outstanding times of worship and seminars for these pastors. It was an inspiring and learning time for me. As I had mentioned I am committed to go this fall to teach 4 sessions in Delhi, India and 4 sessions in Chennai, India in 2014 and 2015. I am also going to Bogota, Columbia this spring.
January 24-26 – I went to the First United Methodist Church in Dalton, Georgia. I had a chance to meet with leaders of the church for about five hours on Saturday and talk about how a church goes to the next level. I also met with some other key leaders in the District. I preached at all of their worship services on Sunday morning.
January 27-29 – I left early Monday morning to go back to Orlando to speak at a Creativity Conference sponsored by Leadership Nexus and Disney. We spent one day with some of the Disney staff persons and then we spent one full day on the grounds at Disney. We had pastors and church leaders from across the country. It is exciting to be a part of a group of people who want to become more creative – and where can you find a more creative group of people than at Disney!
January 30-February 2 – I drove from Orlando down to Marco Island to participate in the President’s Weekend for Oakland City University. I preached on Friday and Saturday. This is the University for the General Baptist denomination. I have had an opportunity to speak at several General Baptist Pastors’ Schools. I enjoyed being with my good friend Dennis Swanberg, who is quite an entertainer, comedian, impressionist, etc. Dennis had a program on Frazer Christian Television called “The Swan.”
February 8 – I spoke at the Leadership Conference at Troy University celebrating African-American history. They had about 500 people registered. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter was a speaker, along with an outstanding lawyer/judge who also is a minister and is seen on television as one of the courtroom judges. Dr. John Kline teaches leadership at Troy. His students speak so highly of him. Another of the speakers was our Probate Judge Steven Reed.
February 9 – I preached at the worship service at Vaughn Forest Church here in Montgomery. Vaughn Forest is without a pastor. Please pray for that church as they move forward with the selection and call of a pastor. I will be preaching there again on March 9.
February 12 – This was again the day of the month that I spent in coaching pastors by telephone.
February 15 – I did several devotionals for the Upward Basketball program at Frazer. The Upward program draws so many people who are unchurched. Joe Overton had the vision for starting that program. Craig McKissick and his staff do a super job. It is one of the largest Upward Basketball programs in our country. It came at a time when we were watching the Sochi Olympics. I was thinking – Frazer has Upward Basketball, Sonshine Soccer, Upward Flag Football – I wonder how Upward Curling would go in Montgomery.
February 18 – Si and I went to Atlanta to attend a basketball game between Georgia Tech and Duke with Phillip and Julie Cook. The Cook’s are strong encouragers and supporters of our ministry. Phillip is also a trustee at Shingleroof Camp Meeting where I have preached every third year for the past 18 years. In 2015, my brother George and I will be the preachers for that weeklong camp meeting.
February 20 – I attended and had the invocation for the Blue-Gray Tennis Banquet. This tournament draws some of the best college tennis teams in the US. It is something that Montgomery is proud of.
February 22-25 – I went to Eufaula, Alabama and I preached a revival at the First Baptist Church. Dr. Ken Bush is the senior minister. He has been there over 30 years. You have to be pretty secure as pastor of a large Baptist church to invite a Methodist to preach. This was actually about the fifth time that I have preached those revival services. I love it because my Dad went there for nine consecutive years to preach on the Sunday that Southern Baptist designate as Older Adult Sunday.
February 27 – I went to Destin, Florida to speak at the annual meeting of the Southeastern United Methodist Foundation Directors. Terri Turner is Executive Director of the Alabama-West Florida United Methodist Foundation, Inc.
I will remind you that I do have a two-minute audio devotional thought on Facebook each day. I also post a blog each week. Let me suggest you invite someone to sign up for the blog and to connect to the daily devotional on Facebook.
Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement and support.
For the Cause of causes,