Florida Baptist State Convention Promotes Unity in Diversity at Annual Meeting

Miami-area pastor Erik Cummings, reelected to a second term as president of the Florida Baptist State Convention, concludes the Florida Baptist State Convention meeting in prayer, flanked by (from left) Randy Huckabee, Dade City, recording secretary; Vanessa Rodriguez-Cardona, Winter Garden, second vice-president; Mike Wiggins, Milton, first vice present, and Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention. Submitted photo

More than 2,200 attendees joined together at the Florida Baptist State Convention in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 11-12 to proclaim they were united as “One Family Gathering.”

“We have played and danced with this issue rather than lamenting and mourning before the Lord,” said Tommy Green, Florida Baptist Convention (FBC) executive director-treasurer, during the Nov. 11 opening session. “But tonight we are not divided, we are not segregated. We are a family and we come as one.

“Tonight, the world around us declares division and hatred,” Green said. “Tonight, we declare in the name of Jesus Christ unity and love. Tonight, we will change the national conversation and make the Gospel of Jesus Christ the primary focus as we come together with different faces and races.”

Only a little while earlier, those in attendance representing numerous nationalities and races gathered arm-in-arm in prayer to ask for God’s blessings on the state’s pastors and wives, churches, veterans, nations, and the lostness of the world.

Green asked those in attendance to recite Psalm 133:1-3 aloud and in unison in each of their own heart languages. “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,” they recounted.

The meeting drew 2,241 persons — 1,180 messengers and 1,061 visitors — representing 531 Florida Baptist churches.

FBSC president Erik Cummings, pastor of the New Life Baptist Church in Carol City, was unanimously reelected to a second term as president after his nomination by Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater. No one else was nominated. Following his election, Cummings received a standing ovation from those in attendance.

In his presidential address, Cummings sounded a clarion call for unity for the purpose of reaching the world for Jesus Christ. “If we are to reach our ‘one’ person for Christ, we have to be one within these walls,” Cummings said, referring to the Southern Baptist evangelistic initiative “Who’s Your One?” “There is power in being united.”

Cummings has served New Life Baptist Church the past 17 years and was president of the 2017 Florida Baptist Pastors Conference. He also served as secretary and parliamentarian of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as moderator for the Miami Baptist Association.

He will serve alongside Mike Wiggins, pastor of Pine Terrace Baptist Church in Milton, who was reelected to a second term as first vice present; Vanessa Rodriguez-Cardona, a real estate agent and wife of bivocational pastor Jose Cardona of Templo Biblico Bautista in Winter Garden, second vice-president; and Randy Huckabee, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dade City, reelected as recording secretary.

Other speakers during the two-day event were SBC President J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area; Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans; and Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz.

Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, spoke at the Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference.

Herb Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church for the past 28 years, preached the historic convention sermon, saying “one soul matters. Jesus Christ has populated heaven one soul at a time. And it matters that we reach out to just that one soul.”

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Source: Baptist Press