I have returned home from this year’s E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference sponsored by the Church he founded, the Concord Church.
I know that several conferences have met the same fate as some conventions – their numbers are down or dwindling. Not the EKBPC. Under the leadership of Rev. Bryan Carter, the enthusiastic and visionary pastor of Concord, EKBPC has not only maintained the elements that were established by Pastor Bailey, it has taken a life of it’s own, as evidenced by over 1,000 Pastors and Ministers in attendance.
Pastor Bailey began the conference when he adopted Expository Preaching and he wanted to share with generations – older and younger – the principles of Expository Preaching and Church Growth. He was influenced heavily by Dr. A. Louis Patterson, Dr. Warren Wiersbe, and others. It was the first African-American Conference that I ever attended that had preachers of all colors in prominent teaching and speaking roles.
Rev. Carter assembled a “Dream Team” this year of speakers. From the time that I hit the doors of the Fairmont Hotel, you could hear the chatter of excitement about the line-up, one described as “one of the best” – (forgive me for leaving titles off) Jerry Carter, Joel Gregory, Steve Lawson, Bryan Carter, Mark Bailey, Philip Pointer, Freddy Clark, Kimberly Alexander, Michael Duduit, Claybon Lea, Jr., Leroy Armstrong, Kenyatta Gilbert, Melvin Von Wade, Sr., Ralph Douglas West, Tara Jenkins, Marcus Cosby, Claude Alexander, L.K. Curry, Scott Lindsay, Delvin Atchison, Charlie Dates, Kerry Wesley, Conway Edwards . . . they ministered to Pastors, Ministers, Spouses, Church Leaders, and Church members.
I appreciated the incredible App that they developed (EKB Preaching Conference) that really rendered useless the printed program. It carried an activity feed, the group and personalized schedule, it even allowed us to “see” who’s at the conference and send messages back and forth, along with adding contacts, and making notes. You could view the speakers and bio, exhibitors, maps, transportation, a mental health awareness survey, bookstore information . . . all in one app. It was impressive.
This year they embraced Uber, the transportation app, and offered discounts on this non-taxi-cab service. I didn’t stay at the host hotel (it was sold out). I stayed at the Hilton Anatole, about 5 miles away and took Uber between the venue and my hotel. It saved me a lot of money – the average ride was just $5 one way, about the cost of a tip had I driven my car, not counting parking fees. I literally walked outside, used the Uber app, and was on my way in about five minutes.
Of course, Dallas is a city that is hurting from the recent news events. Pastor Carter became a voice of peace, reason and reconciliation and it became the class that was not listed in the program. He was able to help his community (with the help of his fantastic staff and volunteers) and he suspended the Conference program so that we could view the Memorial Service for the Dallas Officers featuring Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama. We sat in that room, eating a non-scheduled lunch that the Conference provided, and we watched the Dallas services. Thank you Pastor Carter.
I hope that many reading this will consider coming to the Conference in 2017. A few things:
a) If you’re coming to buy new suits and clothing – you won’t find it here. All of the vendors are word-related so there are no clothing stores, no midnight madness sales. It’s all about the business of the Word. Also, there are few conferences where you don’t see “entourages” around preachers who have contributed so much to Christendom, and you can stop and chat with them in the hallway, or engage them in conversation over a meal.
b) If you’re coming to show off your clothes rack, I strongly advise against it. Fortunately, most of us wore casual outfits all week. It’s more of an academic atmosphere and not an opportunity to individually show off. I didn’t see one eight button suits the entire week (smile). And remember, it’s Dallas. The temperatures were around 95-100 degrees each day.
c) Be open in heart and mind. One thing that helped me this year was to come there with an open heart and mind – and it gave vent to the Holy Spirit to speak to me, challenge me, and confirm some things. There aren’t many conferences you can say that literally had speakers in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s . . . and even in their 90s.
d) Register early. It’s just $199 for early bird registration. $305 if you wait until the 2017 conference.
Kudos Dr. Carter and Concord. The legacy continues . . . Lord willing, I’ll be there in 2017.
by Robert Earl Houston
First, I want to give a huge shout-out to Bishop Neil C. Ellis and the Global United Fellowship. First, thank you for live streaming not just the evening sessions, but all of the sessions. Tonight was absolutely incredible as they raised budget, will leave North Carolina not only in the black, but with valuable partnerships, and purchase of three television stations – all of that in one session. Then the young man from Atlanta who was kidnapped and kept singing Bishop Hezekiah Walker’s song, “Every Praise is to Our God” was presented by Bishop Walker and a spontaneous gift of love, started by Yolanda Adams and Bishop Kenneth Ulmer (who personally gave $5,000) was . . . I guess heart-wrenching is not the right word . . . all I know is that me and the wife were marveled at what we saw and crying our eyes out. NEVER in years of Conventions and Conferences have I ever witnessed what I saw tonight.
Secondly, this was Associational week for most of Northern Kentucky. One moderator, Dr. William Nelson, presided over his first session as leader of Central Baptist District Association and another moderator, Dr. Bishop Carter, III, completed his tenure as moderator of the Consolidated Baptist District Association. Our church is in the Central District and we are former members of Consolidated District. I had the privilege of preaching the 1:00 p.m. sermon on the final day of Central District.
Third, I saw something that literally disappointment and ticked me off to the height of ticketivity. A new television series is on the way, made by the makers of the comic/television series, “Boondocks.” The new show is entitled “Black Jesus” with the premise that “Jesus” lives in Compton. I tried to watch the preview trailer and it literally turned my stomach. It won’t be playing in the Houston household and I hope that the Christian community will rise up and shut this mess down.
Certainly, I’m praying for those who lost their lives on the Malyasian jetliner and praying for peace for the Middle East and our nation – especially our inner cities.
That’s enough for now. Good night y’all.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED
by Robert Earl Houston
I think it needs to be said that Dr. Melvin Von Wade, Sr. is DESERVING of the honor bestowed upon him at the “Living Legend Luncheon” and be inducted into the hall of great preachers in the E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference and Pastor Bryan Carter. Last night, I walked through the exhibit of the Living Legends and I’m grateful that I have heard personally most of them.
I’ve known Dr. Wade since the 1970s when the late Dr. E.C. Wilder would bring him to preach for the St. Mark Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon. I had never heard nor seen preaching like that and after I had been called to preach – I studied him (among several great preachers) because I marveled at how his handled a manuscript.
His support of several younger pastors including myself and my brother, Dr. Bryant C. Wyatt, Sr. and preachers all over the nation, pushed us into leadership positions in the State and in the National. Because of his labor, the four National Baptist Conventions met together twice . . . with his strong influence and input.
He’s been like the college professor that you both respect and revere. I will never forget, and he doesn’t do often (at least with me – smile), after I had gone through my season of storms, he very calmly and quietly said, “Houston . . . you never quit.” That meant much to me.
For generations of preachers, Dr. Wade has been the Rolls Royce of manuscript, expository preaching. For those of us who would have fallen into the trap of not challenging the congregation with our vocabulary, Dr. Wade taught us how to go behind words and get their meaning and sharpen our vocabulary when preaching. To use his words, “I learned a new word.” He taught me the way – he is an avid reader of all material, including Reader’s Digest. I think one of the things that any young preacher could learn from him is to read, read, and read some more. Alliterations don’t come without the benefit of feeding your mind and spirit.
He, along with his brother in the faith, Dr. E.K. Bailey, did not do what previous generations did when illness struck. Instead of being silent, Dr. Wade shared with his church, community, and the nation his illness, the procedures, and he walked Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, where he has pastored almost 40 years, through his season, and it became their season. In the process, it created a stronger bond between Pastor and Church, which is a testament to his transparency in illness.
Dr. Wade is a man of prayer. I remember that before he came to the Presidency of the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America (and he appointed me as his special assistant and webmaster), he was the first one to say to a convention, we’ll rise up early in the morning and seek the face of God. On the national level, he appointed Dr. G. Thomas Turner of Columbus and the room would be standing room only. He made prayer not just a platform but a new paradigm for national conventions – most of whom now have early morning prayer sessions.
He got his spiritual training from his father, the late Dr. J.C. Wade, Sr. and his mother, “Momma Wade.” She is a woman of prayer. I never forget that during the NMBCA, I was also the photographer for the convention and at one of the first sessions of prayer, she called me on the carpet for walking during prayer. When I told her I had approval from Dr. Wade to take photos, she looked at me and said “all right . . . just don’t walk too much reverend.” What a joy it must have been for her, in her mid-90s be present to see her son receive this honor. She has seen him go from baby to child to college graduate to Texas pastor to California pastor, national icon, District Vice Moderator, State Vice President, National President, Delegate to the World Baptist Alliance, and now, inducted into the EKB Preaching Conference Living Legends.
When I found out I had cancer, I put in a call to Dr. Wade. I was scared. I was nervous. And just like I knew he would be – he was cool, calm, collected and after we talked about the procedure, etc., he said, “Houston, let’s pray.” When he prayed he didn’t just pray for healing, but he prayed that this would provide a testimony that only the Lord could give. He’ll never know how comforting his prayer, among many, was to me and my family.
He went to Mount Moriah about the same time that my father in the ministry, Dr. A. Bernard Devers, I, went to New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Portland. They were part of the young guns in the National Baptist Convention of America and Dr. Wade was a fixture at late night and evangelical board services.
When I had resigned my church in San Diego during a very painful divorce, I thought for sure that I would be removed from my post in the National, State, and District works. Dr. Wade didn’t ask me to quit or resign. It was basically, “do your job” and I did. As a result, when I moved to Nashville, I left the west coast as his National Special Assistant, the State Corresponding Secretary, and 3rd Vice Moderator of the Progressive District.
His family – his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his siblings, his parents have been through some much down through the years but his faith has never depleted. In his sermon at Concord during the conference, he related the story of challenges of health, church, and how at each point that would have broken him, that the Lord restored him.
His connections are vast. He is known in the preaching world (and I’ve met some of the nation’s best preachers through Dr. Wade), political world, and in the gospel music world. He’s a fixture at the Gospel Music Workshop of America and Board Member and knows most Christian artists. I met a young Houston school teacher through Dr. Wade, “Houston . . . meet Yolanda Adams . . . she’s major.” I was part of a panel of Pastors and Musicians at GMWA and he said, “Houston . . . meet Donnie McClurkin.” I’ve met more preachers and pastors and bishops and denominational leaders and musical artists. He’s one of the influences on me musically because he kept me on my toes and he influenced me to grab the old songs and introduce them to this generation.
True story: I went to the convention in 1990 after the NBCA/NMBCA split and Dr. Wade was on program. He took that old children’s song, “Everybody aught to know who Jesus is,” slowed it down, almost to a meter, and (forgive the linguistics) killed everything big enough to die in the room. I came back to Portland and was in revival and opened with his arrangement of that song and . . . the Lord was kind.
Perhaps his modeling of pastoral ministry is worth mentioning. When Dr. O.B. Williams went home to be with the Lord, Dr. Wade was present at the service and Dr. Williams’ widow, Willa (Sister O.B.), was heavily mourning her husband at the service, uncontrollaby weeping and wailing. Dr. Wade, walked out of the pulpit, held her hand and would not let her go through the entire service. His presence in that spot spoke volumes and Sis. Williams was comforted.
I will never forget when he was on to preach at the NMBCA I believe it was in Houston or Dallas. Someone stopped by the Finance Office, that I worked in during Dr. Wade’s tenure as General Secretary. He was quietly meditating for the message. The gentleman kept on talking while Dr. Wade was spiritual preparing. He finally said when we told him that Dr. Wade was preaching, “what are you going to preach about?”
Dr. Wade looked up and said “the Lord.”
I think that sums up his preaching ministry over the past fifty years. “Dr. Wade, what are you going to preach about?”
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED