In October 1823 on a Tuesday, Alabama churches sent messengers to a meeting in Greensboro. Those in attendance helped form the Alabama Baptist State Convention. They promptly elected Charles Crow as their first president. At the time, there were roughly 5,000 Alabama Baptists in about 125 churches.
From those days until now, God has blessed the missions and ministries of Baptist churches across our state and even to the uttermost parts of the world. We can look back in our history and see the hand of God working in and through the unified efforts of faithful men and women.
Alabama Baptists were unified in several ways, most notably they were known then, as we are now, as “people of the Book.” The Book, of course, is the Bible.
We are approaching the 200th anniversary of Alabama Baptists fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) while simultaneously maintaining a strong commitment to local church autonomy. When a person realizes that all Southern Baptist churches and those churches affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention are unified in their giving toward reaching the nations, their state, and local communities voluntarily, it becomes evident that God is in the midst of that work.
Think about it: Southern Baptists are not compelled to cooperate. The unity experienced and the unparalleled mission force assembled is nothing short of miraculous, but the work is still yet unfinished. The need for the Gospel to be carried and ministry to be done is greater now than possibly at any other in our lifetime.
The Cooperative Program was established 102 years after the Alabama Baptist State Convention. During that time, the CP has proven to be a God-blessed idea that has fueled Great Commission work in Alabama and beyond. On our website (www.alabamacp.org), you will note the heading which describes the Cooperative Program: “Southern Baptists’ unified plan of giving.”
We have been unified as Alabama Baptists for going on 200 years, and we have been unified in our method of funding the Great Commission for nearly 100 of those years. It is a God-honoring and effective method unifying churches in the funding of missions and ministry.
The story is amazing and is rooted in unity, but it is yet unfinished work. Let me encourage you and your church to “not become weary in well-doing” (Gal. 6:9).
According to the International Mission Board, 59% of the world today is considered unreached — meaning Jesus is not known or named among 4.7 billion people. Based on recent studies, there are more than 1 million lost people in Alabama. The work of evangelizing the lost is unfinished. The work of discipling the saved is unfinished as well as the work of church planting, college ministry, disaster relief, and the list goes on.
Alabama Baptists, let’s continue the godly heritage of unity for the sake of the Gospel. Let’s continue to generously support the missions work being done here and across the globe. Let’s continue the great work God has called us to – the work that is still unfinished!
State Missionary Jay Stewart serves as director of Cooperative Program and Church Financial Resources. He may be contacted at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 2283, or (334) 613-2283, firstname.lastname@example.org.