Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Savannah Reunion

Debra and I spent the weekend in Savannah where we attended the Fall Convocation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia.

We went a day early so that we could enjoy Savannah a little bit. We had lunch on Saturday at Moon River on Bay Street; it had a nice atmosphere and offered a tasty hamburger. We had dinner at Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons Restaurant. If you plan to go there, visit their web site and learn about the process. We spoke to the hostess at 11:00 a.m. and the earliest seating time we could get was 8:15 p.m.; we were actually seated at 9:00. We had the southern buffet; all of the food was very tasty but no better than my Mama cooked and my wife cooks. But, I reckon that everybody’s not as lucky as I am and I’m sure that folks from up north enjoy having such authentic southern fare.

We participated in the Sunday morning worship service at the First Baptist Church of Savannah, where my friend John Finley is pastor. Their sanctuary is the oldest standing church building in Savannah and it is gorgeous. The church in Savannah is heir to the Charleston tradition of worship; it is very formal and very beautiful. The worship leaders all wear robes, the organist and the choir are “high and lifted up,” and the worship is on the “high church” side. Since it was All Saints Sunday, we were privileged to share in the church’s annual memorial service. We also shared in Holy Communion. Dr. Charles Bugg, professor at the White Divinity School at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina, was the guest preacher. It was a very inspiring service.

Dr. Bugg was also the preacher for the CBF sessions on Sunday evening and Monday morning, which were held at First Baptist. It is always good to worship with Baptist brothers and sisters who enjoy being together and who share common cause.

One of the most enjoyable things about CBF meetings is the opportunity to be with old and good friends. Debra and I visited with many of them and also made some new acquaintances.

During the break times, I sat at a table at which folks had the opportunity to purchase copies of Why Be a Christian? The Sermons of Howard P. Giddens, which I had the privilege of editing. I would even sign them if they wanted me to do so! That was fun.

But what was really fun was sharing the table with Karen Smith. Karen grew up in Tifton where her father Ches was the pastor of the First Baptist Church. She and I entered Mercer University together in the fall of 1975. Later we were in the M.Div. program at Southern Seminary together. From there we took different paths; I stayed at Southern to earn a Ph.D. in Old Testament while Karen pursued her D.Phil. at Oxford. She taught for a few years at Southern and has for the last sixteen years taught at the University of Wales, Cardiff and the South Wales Baptist College. She also serves as pastor of Orchard Place Baptist Church in Neath, Wales.

Karen was signing copies of her new book Christian Spirituality, published by SCM Press. I bought a copy and look forward to reading it. I am certain that it will be helpful to anyone wanting to learn more about the vital subject of Christian spirituality.

It was good to renew our acquaintance with Karen. I’m grateful for her work and for the work of all of my friends and colleagues who seek faithfully to serve the Lord. I am inspired by them.

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