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.