Pastors' Conference to honor 'heroes of faith' in St. Louis
Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North and leading Southern Baptist pastors are among the confirmed speakers for the meeting. Recording artists Janet Paschal and Wintley Phipps, and church choirs -- including two student groups -- are among the confirmed musicians for the conference preceding the June 11-12 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
The Pastors' Conference theme will be "Lest We Forget," based on Proverbs 22:28: "Remove not the ancient landmarks, which thy fathers have set."
"One of the things on my heart has been those heroes of the faith that have gone before us to make our convention what I believe it is," Whitten told the Florida Baptist Witness newsjournal in describing the motivation for the conference theme. Whitten is pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa.
"The goal is to say 'thank you' to pastors who have been faithful in preaching God's Word for years that, although few people may know them, I just want to leave them with the idea that 'God knows you and we honor you.'"
Whitten said he is grateful for the "heritage of preachers in my family," noting that there has been an active minister in his family since the 1700s, including a pastor in his home state of Illinois since the 1800s. Whitten is a native of Oreana, near Decatur, Ill.
Citing an additional goal of the conference, Whitten said he has strived to include a "better representation" of African Americans and other ethnics in all facets of the pastors' program "because they are us and we are them."
Building the four sessions around the conference theme, pastors will be exhorted to not forget their calling, their children, their church and their country.
The conference will include two tribute sessions to honor recently deceased pastors. "I wanted to honor some of the godly men, some that people know and some that people would not know, who have been pastors and who have gone to be with the Lord," Whitten said.
Southern Baptists can contact him with names and pictures of pastors who have passed away in the past year, Whitten said. He expressed hope that pastors will plan now on attending the meeting.
The conference will be dedicated in the memory of Ron Dunn, a former Southern Baptist pastor and Bible teacher, who died last July. A sermon by Dunn will be included in the audio cassette/CD package of sermons preached at the 2002 Pastors' Conference, he added.
Retired pastors will be honored with an offering, Whitten said. Because his church is covering the expense of the conference, he said the offering taken at the conference will go in its entirety to the SBC Annuity Board's "Adopt an Annuitant Program."
Conference attendees also will be encouraged to pray for retired pastors whose names will be printed on wristbands and made available at the meeting.
"We don't want to forget the landmarks they've set," Whitten said.
Topping off the conference's theme of honoring heroes of the faith, a special "Lest We Forget Heritage" package of 20 sermons "that changed our convention" will be sold, Whitten said. The proceeds of the sale of the audio cassette and CD package of sermons will fund the 2003 pastors' meeting. The package of key sermons preached at previous pastors' conferences and SBC presidents' addresses will include W.A. Criswell, Jerry Vines, Adrian Rogers and other leading Southern Baptist pastors.
Whitten expressed gratitude for the support of his congregation and the Idlewild staff in assisting with the conference planning and organization. "The experience has been wonderful," he said.
Pastors' Conference speakers, session by session, will be:
-- Sunday, June 9, 6 p.m.: John Marshall, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Springfield, Mo.; Jack Graham, pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas; Robert Pitman, pastor, Kirby Woods Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn.; and Fred Luter, pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans.
-- Monday, June 10, 8:30 a.m.: John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer, Florida Baptist Convention, Jacksonville, Fla.; Kevin Cosby, pastor, St. Stephen Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.; Ken Davis, conference speaker, Franklin, Tenn.; and Jay Strack, evangelist, Orlando, Fla.
-- Monday, June 10, 1 p.m.: Johnny Hunt, pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.; Mac Brunson, pastor, First Baptist Church, Dallas; Ted Traylor, pastor, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla.; and Junior Hill, evangelist, Hartselle, Ala.
-- Monday, June 10, 6 p.m.: Adrian Rogers, pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.; Jerry Vines, pastor, First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.; and Lt. Col. Oliver North, USMC (Ret.), radio/television broadcaster and newspaper columnist, Washington, D.C.
(BP) logo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Logo title: 2002 SBC PASTORS' CONFERENCE.