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September 2013

Do You Have
Sticky Faith?


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Jack's Joyride


First Glimpse


Jack's Joyride

A four-decade joyride began in 1970, on the streets of Fresno, California, when Jack Williams attended his first national convention. “I was the assistant shuttle car driver,” he recalls with a smile, “and even that was unofficial.”

It was the first of many convention hats Jack would wear. From 1972-1976, he was convention staff writer, a job he set aside when he became convention coordinator in 1977. He picked up the pen again in 2001 after coordinating 24 consecutive conventions, and spent the next 12 years detailing the historical moments of each new meeting. When asked about his many responsibilities, Jack simply chuckles: “I may have worn a lot of hats at the convention, but one thing is for sure…they were all cowboy hats!”

Jack’s joyride took a dangerous detour in November 2012 when he suffered a massive stroke from which he continues to recover. In July, he missed his first convention in 43 years after a remarkable run . . . from any perspective.

It has been an eventful journey. When asked about memorable meeting moments, Jack offers two—the first was a collision with a cowboy on the streets of downtown Tulsa during the 1986 convention. It wouldn’t have been a big deal except the cowboy was towing a full-grown buffalo with only a rope!

Jack paints another vivid picture of the day the convention nearly came to a screeching halt. “I will never forget the 1995 Wednesday afternoon business session in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were in the middle of some serious business when a lady rushed in shouting, ‘You gotta get these people out of here. There’s a gas leak, and the place is gonna blow!’ Turns out it wasn’t gas at all, but water from a broken main. I’m glad we didn’t stop the business for that!”

His statement is no surprise, because when it comes to the convention, Jack is all business. “I always thought business was the most important part of the convention—God’s people doing God’s business for God’s glory.”

His passion for God’s business carried over to his professionalism, and he remains a legend in the convention planning community. He was the first Free Will Baptist to earn the CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation, was named Meeting Planner of the Year in 1996 by the Professional Convention Management Association, and won the President’s Award from the Religious Conference Management Association in 2004.

Jack shakes off the accolades. “One person can’t plan a convention, especially a convention like ours. It takes a team, and over the years, we put together a good team.” He tips his hat to former Executive Secretary Melvin Worthington. “It was a joy to work with Melvin for 23 years. He trusted me, turned me loose, and I made it happen. We never disagreed…at least not about conventions.”

As Jack’s convention streak comes to an end, he shares a final secret with the next generation, the most important ingredient for every successful convention. “Coffee! Gallons of good, strong, black coffee!”

Amen to that.


Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Contact him at




©2013 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists