Monday, July 11, 2011
This past week I was privileged to attend The Frank Ray Expository Preaching, Teaching and Church Growth Conference at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Frank E. Ray Sr., Pastor of New Salem, founded the conference nine years ago out of a burden to enhance both pastor and people in areas critical to church growth.
Attending the conference afforded me an opportunity to be blessed by so many pastors including, but not limited to, Dr. Frank E. Ray, President, Dr. George Waddles of Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Billy Bell of Dallas, Texas, Dr. R.A. Williams of Los Angeles, California, Dr. Arthur Jackson of Miami Gardens, Florida, Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood of Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Timothy Winters of San Diego, California and Dr. Anthony Pettus of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
It was my first time attending since 2005. This experience proved to be fruitful and timely. I desperately need to get away so that I could be retooled, revived and refreshed in my ministry. As pastors, because we pour so much of ourselves into the congregations we serve; it becomes needful to allow other pastors to pour into our lives. I was not disappointed. With great anticipation, I look forward to evaluating the results that come only through the implementation of the things I gleaned while in the presence of such great men.
When my family learned of my intentions to attend this conference they were more than happy to come along just to get away. I knew that if I were to accommodate them, I would have to balance my time so that they could take in some of the scenery rather than stay at the hotel all the time. This proved to be a great undertaking seeing that I never did it this way before but we made it work.
We were able to spend some time together during conference breaks visiting the following locations
· Neely’s Barbecue
· Graceland (Home of Elvis Presley)
· Beale Street ( BB King’s Club Restaurant)
· Fed Ex Forum (Home of Memphis Grizzlies)
· Civil Rights Museum at The Lorraine Motel
Out of all the places we were able to visit this time around, The Civil Rights Museum made the most impression on all of us. The introductory film entitled “The Witness” featuring and narrated by Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, set the tone for our visit and deepened our appreciation for the museum and the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was especially moving for our twelve year old son who is still talking about it. My wife and I were happy to see him get this privilege so that he will not squander any opportunities to succeed in life. We anticipate that this and other experiences will shape his drive and serve as motivation to put his best foot forward in future endeavors.
After leaving this historic site, we traveled less than a mile down G. E. Patterson Avenue to visit Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ. The late Bishop G. E. Patterson was quite a preaching personality and genuine person and I wanted to see the church where he served. We were moved by the warmth of one of the church elders who was so kind to take us on a tour of the facility. What an awesome sight we beheld as we walked into their 5,000 seat sanctuary. It really is as big as it appears on television.
As I close this summation of our trip to Memphis, I thank God for the revival I experienced and the time my family shared together. Hopefully we can do it again real soon.