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Let’s Not Forget the Future

What could be more important to moderate Baptists than our future?

Some days, I fear that we are captured by our past. The pain of fundamentalism’s
“hijacking” of the SBC — that’s how Jerry Falwell characterized it — has created deep
wounds that are slow to heal. The tendency to revisit the past and the temptation to attempt
to recreate its structures are very real.

Some days, I fear that we are captured by the present. The compelling work of the Kingdom, along with the demands of the moment, keep us occupied and busy, and we lose ourselves in the overwhelming immediate needs and the cry for instant results.

What about our future? As much as we treasure the past and want to be effective today, I pray that we are willing to look up on occasion and envision a better future. How do we take the lessons of the past, mix in the realities of today, and dream of a new day for authentic Baptists in the world?

Many are asking that same question. Some are already doing their part to help create a new reality for moderate Baptists.

Others remain captive to the past or isolated – with a silo mentality at work that keeps us fully occupied, but separate from one another. All of us – in the U.S. and abroad – have gifts, talents, resources and insights we can offer in creative networking and mutual cooperation.

On February 25-26, 2005, the Mainstream Baptist Network will host a convocation in Atlanta that will begin a deliberate and collective conversation about where God is leading a delightfully diverse group of Baptists as we gaze into the future.

Our theme: “A New Day in Baptist Life.”

I hope that you will make every effort to join your Baptist brothers and sisters in Atlanta to think and humbly pray and dream together. Begin praying today for our time together.

Mainstream has one agenda for our meeting: start talking about OUR tomorrow.

The future of moderate Baptists does not belong to any one organization or group of Baptists. It is OURS. It belongs to us all.

I believe that as we talk with each other, we will see the incredible strength and synergy that can result when we share our talents, resources and knowledge. I believe that a sense of excitement is emerging about where God is leading us, and I believe we will begin to dream together a vision of the future that God will bless.

I invite you to step out of the pain of the past, away from the urgency of today, and to allow the Spirit to move us to dream together about what could be, in the providence of God. I invite those who are interested in “dreaming out loud” to join us and share their insights.

In the big picture, there’s nothing more important to the Kingdom of God and to us.

Bill Wilsonis co-chair of the Mainstream Baptist Network and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dalton, Ga. This column appears in the current Mainstream Journal.