I recently had the opportunity to preach at Minnehulla Baptist Church in Goliad. A good friend of mine, Pastor Ira Antoine, invited me to come and be with his church, and the blessing was mine. I have been honored to preach at many African-American churches in our convention, and every time, it is a wonderful worship experience for me.
In 2003, I had the privilege to serve at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary under Dean Paul Powell. Paul asked me to meet with some pastors to plan a preaching conference for African-American pastors. I had a chance to sit down with Pastor Michael Evans and Pastor Joseph Parker and a few others to form the first Black Preaching Conference, “The Art of Black Preaching.”
For the next several years, Truett hosted this conference; and every year I had a chance to sit and listen to some incredible preachers like Gardner Taylor, Bill Lawson, S.J. Gilbert, Charles Booth, J. Alfred Smith and many others. What a great experience to listen and learn from these outstanding preachers, to be inspired by their words and their attention to the art of preaching. The scholarship and the flow of the message were captivating and challenging. More than anything else, it was their passion to preach that inspired me.
I always will be grateful for the lessons I learned from these preachers.
When I came to Baptist University of the Américas in 2007, I invited this conference to BUA, and we have hosted it since that time. It has been a wonderful cultural connection for our institution, but more than that, our university also has experienced the passion and art of the black preacher. I have been blessed by this conference and these pastors.
I also have been attending the African-American Fellowship for many summers. I set up a booth, but I also fellowship with these pastors and experience their passion to preach. Over all these years, I am convinced God has used these brothers and their preaching to help me see the passion and attention needed to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As you pray through the month of February, please keep the African-American churches in our convention and their pastors in your prayers. God is doing a great work through these churches, and he is using great men to share the passion of the cross. I always will be indebted to these churches and these pastors for inviting me to their table.
I am grateful how God has taught me as I have attended these meetings and churches. It is a different culture for me and a different style of worship, but we are the body of Christ, and God has used African-American preachers to teach me about the passion to preach.
René Maciel is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and president of Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio.