More than 400 people attended the first Gulf Coast Convocation, September 14-15, 2018, in Mobile, Ala. The event was organized and presented by pastors and local leaders of Adventist churches from the Gulf States and South Central conferences. The idea for the event started several months before, after a couple of area pastors began a conversation on unity and expanded it to their area colleagues. Rather than leaving “unity in the mission” as a discussion item, the group decided to put the idea into action, and plans began for an interconference convocation. Area pastors met in person and over the phone several times, ironing out the details of which churches would host on a given day, who the presenters would be, and how Sabbath meals would work.
With the plans set in place, the pastors worked with their conference offices, advertisements were distributed, and chairs were brought from several churches to the Mobile Junior Academy (MJA) gymnasium. The convocation began Friday night at the Emmanuel Church, and featured a praise team made up of members from several churches. Craig Newborn, Ph.D., was the featured speaker, and presented that, while God did separate people at the Tower of Babel, it was done because they were united against Him. Then he posed the thought, “Could we be one again if we were united with Him?”
The event continued Sabbath morning at the newly renovated MJA gymnasium, where services began with a traditional Sabbath School led by Martin Fancher, executive secretary of Gulf States Conference. A panel discussion on unity followed, featuring representatives for each conference, age group, and gender of area Adventist churches, and was led by Yvens Melidor, pastor of Gethsemane Church. One of the panel members, Matthew Reed, member of Cody Road Church, stated that an essential component of unity is to “not stop looking at our line of ancestors when we get to our grandparents or great-grandparents. They may not have set the best example.” Instead, we should “continue looking all the way back to the Father of us all, God, as our example of true unity.”
Newborn concluded the morning worship with a sermon titled “Cross-eyed,” and transitioned the meeting to an afternoon lunch where attendees were encouraged to sit with someone they didn’t already know. Later in the evening, a portion of the group reconvened for a sundown Vespers service of music and testimony sharing, and then capped with dinner and games in the gym.
The response from those who attended was positive, and many look forward to holding similar events in the future. As a result of this collaboration, the group of organizing pastors has created the Gulf Coast Federation, a means by which each area church can share their schedule of activities, and work together on accomplishing the mission God has sent them on. The working motto they have adopted for their group is “One church, many locations.” To learn more about this movement and listen to the panel discussion and Sabbath sermon, go to gscsda.org/gcconvocation.
Gulf States | November 2018