BY STAFF, Baptist Message
BAYOU MACON BAPTIST ASSOCIATION – At least once a year, each of the Baptist associations across Louisiana meet for fellowship and to hear the news of what God is doing among them.
Associations are a group of churches in a given geographic area, such as Carey Baptist Association of the Southern Baptist churches in southwest Louisiana.
[img_assist|nid=6421|title=Perry Hancock President, CEO Louisiana Baptist Childrens Home|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=88|height=100]The purpose of associations is multi-faceted: fellowship that brings together people from many churches into a large group; training events, such as for Sunday school teachers or VBS leaders; doctrinal alignment – before churches are accepted into the association, their doctrinal statements are examined for “like faith and order” with Baptist tenets; and combined force in missions and ministry, such as a community ministry center, or a short-term missions trip.
Representatives from LBC entities – children’s home, college, foundation, Baptist Message – often are present at the associational meetings. Sometimes (when invited by the association) they give reports of what their entity is doing; sometimes they’re there just to mix and mingle with the people of the association.
Perry Hancock, president and CEO of the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home, described what he experienced when he attended the Bayou Macon Baptist Association’s fall meeting. Jay Morgan is the director of missions.
“You had to be there,” Hancock wrote. He could have written, “You missed a blessing,” because that’s true too. Associational meetings bring together a diverse group of people bound together by geography and other similarities, as well as by their mutual faith in God.
Associational gatherings are celebrations of what’s best about being Southern Baptist.
Plan now to participate in your next associational gathering to see the truth of these words.
“The meeting had its regular components: business session, reports, and a great meal,” Hancock wrote. “The last report given was the Association’s Missions Report. The pastor began by saying, ‘Several of you … [he would describe the outreach ministry]. You didn’t do it because you had to. You just love souls.’ He continued, ‘Many of you [another ministry description]. You didn’t have to do that. You just love souls.”
He did that for each of the ministries and mission trips the people had supported or participated in from the past year. At the end of his report, he simply said, “Thank you for loving souls.”
“It was one of those times when we say, ‘You had to be there to feel the real impact,’” Hancock continued. “But it was powerful and inspiring.
“Then, at the end of the meeting, the moderator asked if anyone had something to mention before we closed.
A lady, who works at one of the six missions ministries this very small association supports, shared that a family came that day needing furniture.
She then named a few of the items they needed. One by one, those attending raised their hands and said, ‘I have a dining table.’ ‘I have chairs for the table.’ ‘We have an extra bed.’ In just a few minutes every single need was met. It was incredible.
“On my way home, I could not forget what I had experienced,” Hancock continued. “The pastor’s mission report thanking everyone for loving souls had been followed by a group of Baptists who shared their love with a family in need. It was AWESOME and INSPIRING.”