Bethel Baptist Association Celebrates 100 Years
BY LOUIS C. WARD
APOPKA - With the confirmation of Donald Trump being elected the 45th President of the United States Wednesday, November 9th,2016, more than 50 percent of Americans were either concerned or scared or both.
Reverend Dr. Michael D. Warren and Reverend Dr. James B Sampson knew and understood where the hearts and minds would be of those who attended the five-day Bethel Baptist Association of Florida, Inc. 100th Annual Session on Thursday, November 10th , two days immediately following the highly unexpected defeat of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee and most Americans’ choice for president- she won the popular vote with more than 2 million votes.
Held at the Pleasant View Missionary Baptist Church on South Central Avenue in Apopka, Florida, both the morning and evening sessions were well attended, and both leaders gave a reassuring Word from God, that in essence told the congregants that, “We’ve been through this before. Put it all in God’s hands!”
Reverend Dr. James Sampson, President of Florida General Baptist Convention, Inc. kicked off the event at the morning session. He reminded the people about the trails that African Americans experienced in America as soon as their feet touched the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in the 1600’s. They endured slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow laws, the fight for civil rights, to profiling by police departments and more.
Immediately in the beginning of his discourse, Dr. Sampson discussed the presidential election. “The election has happened. The truth: It’s God who takes one up and sits one down. With a righteous king, people prosper, with a wicked king in charge, people suffer,” Dr. Sampson explained.
Dr. Sampson said it was a diverse group of Christians who felt Donald Trump was the best candidate for president. “A large number of white Christians, and some Black Christians, have decided that Trump is a poster child for the Christian movement.”
Then he mentioned some things that would change under Trump’s presidency. “The next appointments to the United States Supreme Court would be cut after Anthony Scalia and Clarence Thomas. And the Voter Right Acts and fair housing, all these are in jeopardy.” warned Dr. Sampson.
“Whenever a whiteman says he going to something, believe him, he’s going to do something.” But God is still in control, emphasized Dr. Sampson. “If God allows it, it will ultimately work for our good. We have to have prayer meetings. And let’s not lose faith in God. No matter what you faced in life. He’s big enough to handle it.”
Concluding, Dr. Sampson reminded the congregants that “the heart of the king, Donald Trump, is in the hands of the Lord. Put it all in the hands of the Lord when storms of uncertainty arise in your life, Wake Him (Jesus) up! Dr. Sampson was referring to Peter, James, and John when they were in the boat and they thought the storm was going to capsize the boat, they woke Jesus up.
“We put it in God’s hands then. We need to put it in God’s hands now!” Reverend Dr. Sampson commanded church leaders and congregants at the morning session.
Bethel Baptist Association Moderator Reverend Dr. Michael D. Warren delivered the state of the address for the association, highlighting historical events in Bethel’s hundred years of existence in Florida at the evening session. The gist of his message was based on the Old Testament book of Joshua 4:6,7.
“We meet this week during a time of great uncertainty…we are uncertain about the United States of America,” said Dr. Warren. “Darkness has come upon us, and many of us do not know where to turn.”
“We have some work to do,” emphasized Dr. Warren. “We must start in the pulpit. We are out of fellowship, and the preacher is all we got. We have work to do in our families, the institution of marriage, dysfunction in the congregation, and Christian education. The older men and older women must teach the younger ones.”
Dr. Warren then went on to discuss Joshua 4 - witnessing to the crossing of the Jordan River and witnessing about the stones placed in the Jordan River to remind the Israelites of what God did. Witnessing is what we ought to be doing, explained Dr. Warren. “Witnessing is for that other person who is perplexed, confused. Witnessing is marketing for who He (God) is and what He is.”
“Two stacks of stones, it’s a sign, a story. It’s significant that God has given us a spiritual marker to remind us where He released his power. Burdens, challenges will have you forget the wonders of God. I remember the wonders of God. He brought us out of slavery, Jim Crow, the Depression and Hoover, He’s able to do it again,” reiterated Dr. Warren as he wrapped up his message.
“Celebrating A Century with Christ Heritage and Hope” was the 2018 Centennial Theme of the five day 100th Annual Session, which was hosted by Pleasant View Baptist Church. The highly attended program included a Women’s Auxiliary Meeting with Harbor House, Memorial Services, Communion Services, Discussion Groups, President’s Day, Senior Moments Queen Review, and a Board of Directors meeting.
Commenting on the event, Dr. Warren said it was the annual meeting of Baptists in the region of Florida to envision our future. We were organized in 1916 in Zellwood, Florida. We are looking forward to solving issues as it relates to the future of the Black Church and ministry, and we want to prepare the Black Church to do effective ministry in the 21st century.
The session was good, said Deacon Willie Kuykendall, President of the Ushers. “We need to look forward and put everything in God’s hands.”