by Robert Earl Houston
DETROIT, MI – Today I am at the 52nd Annual Session of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., which has served as my denominational home since I began pastoring the Historic First Baptist Church of Frankfort, Kentucky. Our church is one of the congregations that united with those who were disaffected by the decisions made by the leadership of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. in 1960, and in 1961, by one vote, created this convention.
I’ve been received warmly in this convention. I’ve had the opportunity to play musical instruments (piano and organ), lead congregation/praise singing, lectured in South Carolina, preached for the Region just outside of Cincinnati, and serve as State President of the Kentucky State Convention.
Since 2010, I’ve been serving as the Webmaster/Internet Ministry director and it’s been a grand enterprise to transform the web site. I’ve discovered that no matter what changes you make, when it comes to dealing with people – some folk are never completely satisfied and they have visions for the web site that are not congruent with the purposes of a web site. I had the privilege of authoring the first web site of the national baptist conventions – for the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, under the presidency of Dr. Willie T. Snead, Sr. Deadlines have been intense, re-writes are factored in, and it’s always satisfying to hear delegates say “thank you” for the web site.
Today, it will all change.
I’ve prayerfully made the decision that it’s time for me to step aside (not step down) from the day to day operations of the web site and it’s time to utilize some of the great, young minds. I met today with an outstanding graphic artist/web designer and will be making my transition out at web designer and focusing more so on content, if it meets with the President’s approval.
First off, I’ve been doing this for national conventions since about 1993. That’s 20 years of doing this type of ministry and it’s time for new ideas, new designs and a new approach.
Secondly, I think that conventions need to shuffle the personnel deck. When I started preaching 35 years ago, I remember seeing the secretaries being wheeled to the desk and taking minutes by trembling hands, because they had been serving in the same position for years and years. I don’t want to be the webmaster of a convention at the ripe old age of 75.
Lastly, this is a season that I want to focus on my local congregation and my health. We are preparing to march into our sanctuary for the first time in weeks after extensive renovation. I recently returned to the church after cancer surgery in May. Our church bus has even been in extended service and repair. And now a convergence of return – the building, the pastor, and the bus is about to take place.
Even though I’m “cancer free” I still have to carefully manage my health and my recovery. The flesh is starting to grow in the transplant area and yet, there are times when I have a stabbing, painful episode or even become so tired that I have to lay down. It’s not over yet.
I can’t begin to fully explain it but I feel the zeal for the work like I just walked in the door as pastor. God is sending new members, we are developing new ministries, we are developing (thanks to Rev. Anna Jones) a unique prayer ministry, and in this season, I hear the Holy Spirit saying even more, “feed the flock.”
Also, I want to spend time developing relationships with Kentucky pastors that have been kind to me as well. I’m also setting in motion a transition in our State Convention – it’s time to begin making that move too.
My greatest position and honor is not at a national convention, nor state convention, nor general association, nor district association. I received it again last Sunday when a young boy came up to me and said, “Pastor, when you leave, I want to be the next pastor.” This Sunday he came up, hugged me and said “I love you Pastor.”
My greatest position in the world is pastor. Thank you Lord.
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