1) Tony Merida has resigned as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Kenner to become Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. This is the position last held by Tony’s mentor, Dr. Jim Shaddix who now pastors Riverside Baptist Church in Denver. Everyone loves Tony and Kim and is saddened by their leaving the church, except–as was the case when we resigned 3 years ago–they’re not actually leaving. At the moment, they plan to keep their membership in the church. My family is delighted for a lot of reasons, among them the fact that Kim teaches piano to my grandchildren. She also plays for the worship services and is as wonderful a singer as you’ll ever hear. Also a good Bible teacher. Talk about a preacher out-marrying himself; that’s our Tony.
When Tony stands in the pulpit and opens the Word, he’s as good as they come. He’ll be a wonderful role model and teacher for the next generation of preachers.
2) “Safe at Home” has been canceled. Or at least postponed for a year. This evangelistic outreach of the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association seems to be a great idea which did not connect with our people at this particular time. The plan was to buy out all the tickets for the May 20 baseball game in which our Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs would be playing, to print up thousands of vouchers and give to our church people to distribute to their friends, vouchers which would be redeemed for actual tickets (and thus a seat) at the stadium. After the game, the Dawson team would bring a platform onto the field and present a musical program, after which Scott himself would present the gospel.
In all the preliminary meetings with pastors trying to generate interest and participants and local leadership, it would appear that locals were polite and interested but not to the point of “taking the ball and running with it,” as the expression goes.
A 45-minute conference call today, Tuesday, involved a number of local ministers and the Dawson team, and at the end it was decided to call off the event.
David Rhymes and I informally polled 8 of our pastors yesterday and found lukewarm interest. Some pastors said their schedules were already filled, that May 20 was their senior emphasis in their church, or their church staff was short-handed, or several other reasons.
Each of us stressed to Scott and Bryan, the Dawson representatives, how much we appreciate their willingness to come here, the many days they put in on this, and the money they invested. I think we’re all grieving that this did not work out, but hopefully it will for the future. Our thanks and our love to the Scott Dawson team.
3) David and Janet Crosby (he’s the pastor of FBC-New Orleans) are about to have a dream trip to Indonesia during which they will visit the “Mountain of Copper” in Freeport-McMoran’s Irian-Jaya location. This is one of the wonders of modern surface mining. I happen to have some rocks for my collection from that site, along with samples of gold dug out of those amazing mountains. A friend in the Kenner church used to work in security for them and I asked him to “bring me back some gold!” on his next trip. He did. Not enough to start a stampede over but enough to excite the imagination.
4) At last report, my Dad, who turned 95 on April 13, has received around 150 birthday cards and notes. He and Mom keep the cards in a large basket and go through them occasionally, re-reading them. Several who wrote included gifts of money, the total now up to $300, I understand. One pastor sent a check for $100, and another said, “I’m sending 10 cents for each of your years.” Now, my dad never goes anywhere and probably will turn around and give that money away. These days, with direct deposit of pensions and children who handle his finances and pay all the bills, about the only use he has for folding money is to count it–and perhaps dream of the time 75 years ago when a day’s wages was two or three dollars and wouldn’t he have loved to have had some of this back then!
I sincerely thank you who wrote him and Mom. If you will lift them in prayer today, we will be particularly grateful. My daily prayer is that the Lord will grant them “the love of God to sustain them, the joy of the Lord to be their strength, and the peace that passes understanding to guard their hearts in Christ Jesus.”
5) This weekend, April 21-23, I’ll be in Washington, DC, staying with our friends Don and Audrey Davidson. He’s the pastor of FBC Alexandria, VA. I’ll be visiting a church Sunday morning and meeting with associational leadership that afternoon to talk about their plans to bring crews this way. Then Monday morning, I’m addressing the luncheon of ministers and church secretaries. Back home that same evening. You might call this “a flying trip.” (Groan)
We’re excited that on Monday night, April 30, Dr. Charles Wade, executive-director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, will address our Spring associational meeting at the FBC of Luling on the West Bank. It begins at 7 pm, everyone is invited, but we’re especially asking our pastors to get their church leaders present. The BGCT and Dr. Wade have invested heavily in the rebuilding of this city and we want to express our appreciation.