Annual Meeting of the Sovereign Grace Baptist Fellowship
September 14-16, 2020
Great Light Baptist Church
2100 N Boonville Ave.
Springfield, Missouri 65803
Al Garard, pastor
The Sovereign Grace Baptist Fellowship held its 19th annual meeting this past September 7-9. Great Light Baptist Church in Springfield, MO, where Al Garard serves as pastor, did an admirable job hosting the conference.
The gathering began late Monday afternoon with a message by Ryan Butler (pastor of Grace Church of Bull Shoals, AR), in which he critiqued “social justice” ideology. This is an ideology which divides society into various groups and ranks them according to perceived levels of privilege and oppression. Groups are determined to be disadvantaged if any inequity exists in outcomes. Usually, the disadvantaged includes women, minorities (especially Blacks), the poor, and LGBTQ+. The proposed solution is to take from those who are privileged and redistribute to those who are not, through totalitarian and Marxist methods.
While true oppression does exist, and whereas Christians should be compassionate toward those who are oppressed, Marxist/Socialist redistribution of wealth and privilege only introduces more oppression and injustice. It promotes abortion, sexual perversion, racism, excessive taxation, religious persecution and massive government control of every aspect of life. Ryan’s message was followed by a robust discussion on the subject.
After dinner, Kyle White (pastor of Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, TX) preached on Eph. 2:22 and how the church is a habitation of God through the Holy Spirit. What a glorious and solemn privilege to be God’s chosen dwelling place. The church is not a gathering place for an isolated bunch of individuals. The church is being built together for a habitation of God. We must come together as living parts of the body, not as spectators waiting for the performance of the musicians, preachers, teachers or other gifts. We must gather on the Lord’s Day with a sense of anticipation for the promised presence of God in our midst.
On Tuesday morning, we gathered to hear church reports. This was a time for pastors to give updates on the state of the churches they serve, to give God praise for blessings experienced over the past year, to mention specific needs that exist for them personally and in their congregations and to pray for one another. While some churches are experiencing growth and the blessing of God adding to their number, others are experiencing the pain of attrition. In each situation, God is at work, adding and subtracting, testing and purifying.
After the church reports, we heard a sermon by Keith Bassham (pastor of Huntington Community Church in Huntington, AR) on the subject of grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit. Quenching describes what Christians do to the Spirit. Grieving describes the Spirit’s response to our sinful behavior. Christians should tremble at the thought of grieving the Spirit and causing Him to withdraw the light of His countenance from us.
In the afternoon, the pastors met for the business meeting. After discussing old and new business, Al Garard, chairman of the SGBF, challenged the pastors to be thinking about opportunities for church planting. He also challenged us to be thinking of ways to make the SGBF more a fellowship of churches, instead of primarily a fellowship of pastors. We discussed various ways in which churches might bridge the longdistance gap to strengthen their relationships with one another. It was announced that Pastor Ron Staley (New Hope Baptist Church in Mechanicsville, VA) was ready to turn over the editing responsibilities of the Sovereign Grace Messenger to Curtis Knapp (pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, KS). After a motion was made and seconded, Curtis was voted in as the new editor of the publication.
After dinner on Tuesday evening, Mark Garard (pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Enid, OK) preached from Revelation 3:1-6, on the letter to the church at Sardis. This church had a great reputation that it was alive, but in truth it was dead (or near death). There was still a little flame that could be rekindled and “strengthened”, and the believers there needed to repent. We were exhorted to examine ourselves and take the same message to heart with respect to our own churches.
On Wednesday morning, we gathered to hear reports about the various missionaries who are supported by the SGBF churches. We confessed a sense of perplexity over the many instances, where severe health problems have forced missionaries to come home from the field.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?” (Romans 11:33-34)
After praying for each of the missionaries, the annual meeting was concluded.