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June-July 2022

Congregation on Call


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Back to Birmingham

By Ryan Lewis, Convention Director


For more 2022 National Convention information:

When 3,000-plus Free Will Baptists gathered in Memphis last summer, things felt back to normal. Attendees greeted each other with handshakes, hugs, and warm fellowship. Business, seminars, and competition went on as planned, and everyone enjoyed the return to corporate worship. But a few things were still a bit “off.”

The convention center, hotels, and nearby restaurants were desperate for workers and convention attendees waited patiently for service. Decisions made early in the planning process meant there was no choir or orchestra leading in worship. Seminars, competition, and registration numbers were down as people continued to take a “wait and see” approach following the pandemic.

Yet, as uncertainty lingered, one thing remained constant: Free Will Baptists made a positive impression on the city. As you probably read in ONE Magazine, or in the 2021 Convention Recap news release, numerous staffers and employees from Memphis hotels and venues spoke openly about the positive impact our attendees had on the city, both economic and emotional. One executive at the convention center noted (emotionally), “Watching the young people this week gave me hope for our future.”

The 2022 convention in Birmingham promises attendees even greater opportunities for encouragement, edification, and impact. Worship services will feature singing and preaching in both English and Spanish, and the choir and orchestra are back (find more information at Multiple seminars will be offered throughout the day by national departments and commissions, the exhibit hall will be full of ministries and vendors, and the Vertical 3 Conference will host the CTS Ministry Expo and nightly worship for all ages.

Saturday’s IMPACT Birmingham event will look a little different this year. Rather than partnering with local Free Will Baptist churches to help with outreach, volunteers will assemble and distribute care kits to those in need throughout downtown Birmingham. Serve the City activities from Vertical 3 will offer youth groups an opportunity to work with volunteer service organizations in the Birmingham area.

Many people look forward to the annual convention as a “family reunion,” a time to gather with friends they haven’t seen in a year. Some come to participate in the business of the denomination, further their education in seminars and workshops, or worship with fellow believers in a setting unlike any their local church could replicate. Others make it a family vacation to participate in Vertical 3 and CTS expo activities and find local tourist attractions.

Whatever your motivation in attending the 2022 National Convention, let’s all share the same goal: leave the event as a better and stronger denomination, and leave the city better than when we arrived. See you in Birmingham!

About the Author: Ryan Lewis serves as executive administrator for the National Association of Free Will Baptists. He and his wife Ashlee live in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, with their four children.


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists