Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BGCM Trip to the Baptist World Congress

The Baptist General Convention of Missouri is planning a very special opportunity for church leaders from across our state to participate in the Baptist World Congress in 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Our trip includes airfare and hotel reservations for 50 people.

Airline Flights
Flights on Continental Airlines are available from Kansas City or St. Louis departing on July 27. Both flights will connect in Houston and arrive together in Honolulu 3:05 p.m. on July 27. The return flights will leave Honolulu at 8:45 p.m. on August 2 and connect through Houston to Kansas City and St. Louis. The cost of the flights will be $960.00 + tax and fuel surcharge which is estimated to be $78.95 (subject to change). The flights will be booked through the convention office. A $50.00 deposit per person is required to hold your reservation. The remaining flight payment will be due to the convention by May 28, 2010.

Hotel Reservations
The BGCM has reserved a block of 25 rooms in the Ala Moana Hotel which is located across the street from the Hawai'i Convention Center where the World Congress will be held. The room rate is $179.00 per night double occupancy for six nights. The deadline to reserve your room is April 21, 2010 4:00pm EST; however, we expect the rooms to all be taken well before that date. Once you contact the convention to indicate you desire a room we will provide you with instructions for reserving your room from our BGCM block of rooms online. Each person will be responsible for paying their own hotel bill directly with the hotel. The Ala Moana Hotel adjoins the world-class Ala Moana Shopping Center with over 260 retailers showcasing the finest names in fashion and a delightful array of dining. Hawaii Convention Center is across the street and the 76-acre Ala Moana Beach Park is about two blocks from the hotel.

BWA Registration
In addition to the flights and hotels guests will need to complete a registration for the World Congress directly with the BWA. You may complete your registration at The cost for adults from the USA is $200.00 per person. We are currently negotiating airport transportation to and from the hotel in Hawaii. Each traveler will be responsible for any additional local transportation and all meals. The congress begins officially on the evening of Wednesday, July 28, 2010, and officially concludes noon Sunday, August 1, with bible study and worship. One day before and after the World Congress has been built in for personal sight-seeing and other activities.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech"

I continue to be moved by the words of Dr. King during his address at the "March on Washington" on August 28, 1963. More than 40 years later his words still present a powerful message of hope and a call for justice. The text of his speech is below:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [Applause]

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Haiti Relief through Baptist World Aid

The Baptist General Convention of Missouri is channeling relief funds through Baptist World Aid, the relief arm of the BWA. The Baptist World Alliance announced a Baptist World Aid (BWAid) Rescue24 team arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sunday, January 17, and has begun work in a local clinic.

The team, consisting of members from the country of Hungary and the state of North Carolina in the United States, has come up against horrific scenes. "The situation is terrible, I have never seen anything like this," said Bela Szilagyi, head of Hungarian Baptist Aid, who has been working in major disaster zones for more than 10 years. Szilagyi is one of the leaders of the BWAid Rescue24 team in Port-au-Prince.

They came across "immense chaos, confusion, and the terrible smell of dead bodies." Members of the team flew to a location close to the Haiti-Dominican Republic border, and were escorted into Port-au-Prince by "blue helmets," United Nations peacekeeping soldiers. They will remain in Haiti for one week providing emergency medical services.

Our convention is receiving funds for the relief effort. Send you gifts to the convention office at BGCM, P. O. Box 508, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0508 or send your gifts directly to BWAid at or to: Baptist World Aid, 405 North Washington Street, Falls Church, VA 22046.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims

On December 18th I posted an announcement about the new documentary recently released by the Baptist Center for Ethics ( I had the opportunity to see it Sunday, January 3rd, on our local ABC station, KMIZ-17. It is an excellent documentary and addresses the ways in which people of differing faiths can have constructive dialogue and positive relationships.

Robert Parham, Executive Director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, has been talking about the fact that a few ABC-TV stations have buried the documentary in the dead zone between 12 midnight and 5:00 a.m., a time when nobody watches television. He indicated that one such station was KABC-TV, the Los Angeles station, which aired the program on Jan. 9 at 2:00 a.m. In spite of the time frame, movie actor Denzel Washington referred positively on Thursday to "Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims" on "106 and Park," a show on Black Entertainment Television.

Check out Robert's article here. Denzel Washington went on to talk about his faith. His comments were a great, unsolicited endorsement for the documentary. If you have not seen it check with your local ABC affiliate or contact for information regarding how you can purchase it to share with your church or community group.