Dare to Disciple
Walking in Memphis
By Stephen Nelson
After celebrating 75 years as a denomination at the 2011 convention, Free Will Baptists may wonder, “Where do we go from here?” The simple answer is Memphis.
The bustling city of Memphis sprawls along the banks of the Mississippi River in southwestern Tennessee. The area that would later become the city was brought into the Union as part of the Jackson Purchase negotiated in 1818. The city itself was founded May 22, 1819, by several investors including future President Andrew Jackson. At its inception, Memphis was only four blocks wide and home to around 50 people.
In the years since, Memphis has grown exponentially, thanks in large part to its location on the Mississippi River. Today, it is the largest city in Tennessee with a population of 680,000 (1.2 million in the greater metropolitan area).
The most recognizable landmark in the city is the final home of Elvis Presley. And while Graceland is certainly not the focus of the Free Will Baptist convention, it receives more than 600,000 visitors each year, making it one of the most visited homes in the country. Only the White House in Washington, D.C., and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina receive more visits.
Memphis is also home to the Grizzlies professional basketball team, 2010 playoffs Cinderella. The FedEx Forum, home court of the Grizzlies is also the venue for many concerts and events.
Known for a rich musical heritage and mouth-watering barbeque, Memphis is sure to have something for everyone. When needing a break from competition, business meetings, and seminars, conventioneers will find Memphis has much to offer in the way of family entertainment.
One such attraction is the Memphis Zoo. It is reasonably priced and offers discounts for large groups, making it a great option for youth groups. Those traveling with children will want to visit the Children’s Museum of Memphis, which is packed full of fun and educational exhibits. For music lovers, the Gibson guitar plant will provide an interesting and enjoyable option. Located directly across from the FedEx Forum and the Westin Hotel, the factory offers tours of the facility with an inside look at the process of making the world-renowned instruments from start to finish.
Free Will Baptists will meet in Memphis for only the second time. The last meeting, which took place in 2002, marked the end of one era and the beginning of another as Executive Secretary Melvin Worthington retired after 23 years, and current executive secretary Keith Burden was elected to be his successor.
With 75 years in the rearview mirror, Free Will Baptists look to the future with excitement, waiting with anticipation for what God has in store. May God bless us all as we live for Him daily and bring us together next year when the “Free Willers” go “Walkin’ in Memphis.
About the Writer: Convention Press Intern Stephen Nelson is a senior English major at Free Will Baptist Bible College. To find out more about convention internship, contact Convention Manager Ryan Lewis at the Executive Office: 877-767-7659 or email@example.com.