UBA Executive Director, Dr. Tom Billings, is passionate about what God can do through the churches in our city in 2013. "The churches of UBA are about to undertake one of the greatest initiatives in her history, and it's called Loving Houston," says Dr. Billings. He explains, "Loving Houston is about doing good deeds while sharing the good news of the gospel. It is built upon the idea that while Jesus went about sharing the good news, he also went about doing good. In UBA, we want to mobilize churches to follow Jesus' example." Loving Houston will be a three-year initiative that is already underway.
RETHINK: In October of 2012, the conference To Transform a City Conference featuring Eric Swanson and Sam Williams provided an opportunity to re-think how churches think about the transformation of a city. If you missed this thought-provoking conference, the session videos are posted online so you can catch up and get a sense of what we did. (Resources)
ENTRENAMIENTO EN ESPAÑOL, EL 23 DE FEBRERO: El Dr. Raul Gonzalez estara de nuevo con nosotros para continuar con la conferencia: Entendiendo el corazon y la mente hispana. El tema de esta nueva conferencia será: EL DESAFIO DE LA SUPERSTICION PARA ALCANZAR AL HISPANO. El propósito es prepararnos para una iniciativa mayor en Junio cuando más de mil líderes de todo el país se movilizaran a Houston para un esfuerzo de proclamación y servicio a la ciudad. La conferencia estaré en Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway.
WORSHIP, FEB 24: The second opportunity was a Launch Weekend with worship and training on February 24-25. This Loving Houston Launch began with a city-wide Sunday night worship and celebration service hosted at Second Baptist Church (Woodway Campus) on February 24 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. "Just trust me," said Dr. Billings, "Mark it down on your calendar and plan to come. You'll be so glad you did!" About 1,500 people gathered for worship and praise as Loving Houston was launched.
TRAIN, FEB 25: The worship celebration was followed the next day, Monday, February 25, by a full day of conferences and training sessions. Conferences included a morning session by Alvin Reid on 'Telling the Story,' followed by lunch and the opportunity to select from 9 different conferences in three tracks: Mobilizing Your Church, Understanding Others, or Transforming Communities. Session leaders included Alvin Reid, Mary Ann Bridgwater, Don Waybright, Bryant Lee, Brian & Kelly Gowan, and others. Videos of the training sessions can be found on the UBAhouston YouTube site.
PRAY, MAR 3-30: Following the training conferences, were invited to enter into a 28-day season of prayer for our greater-Houston area. A prayer guide was prepared and is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese. View it on the website or download it for distribution. [The guide is undated so churches may adjust this timing to better fit their own schedules.] As you pray through the guide, you'll focus on a different theme each week: To the Glory of God; To the Ends of the Earth; To the Least of These; So Send I You. You'll see the highs and the lows of our great city and gain a better understanding of the challenges of sharing the good news so that all may hear and understand. The worship, training, and season of prayer all lead up to the primary focus of Loving Houston/Crossover 2013. Click for flipbook preview.
LOVING HOUSTON, JUN 1-8: Prayer, planning, and training culminate action during the first week in June. Thousands of volunteers are needed to serve and bless our city. This week coincides with the Crossover 2013 initiative of the Southern Baptist Convention, scheduled to meet in Houston this summer. As part of this meeting, volunteers come from across the country to share the love of Christ in word and deed with folks in the host city. The North American Mission Board of the SBC contacted Dr. Billings for assistance in organizing opportunities for them to serve while they are here. "We went way beyond that!" says Dr. Billings who has integrated the Crossover 2013 initiative into the much larger initiative of mobilizing our churches to take on lostness as we demonstrate Christ's love through acts of service.
In December, Dr. Billings, Mike Kraxberger, Jim Herrington, and the 2013 UBA Moderator, Jeff Berger (pastor of Westbury Baptist Church) met with Houston Mayor Annise Parker. In that meeting and in a follow-up meeting the same month with some of the Mayor's senior leadership team, Dr. Billings and the Loving Houston Team have identified areas of the city and specific projects where the church can serve and bless our city. Volunteer Project Coordinator, Mike Kraxberger, will be assisting Dr. Billings as they work with such groups as Baptist Men, Disaster Relief, Habitat for Humanity, community development groups like Agape and Generation One, area churches and folks coming in for the Southern Baptist Convention to mobilize thousands of folks to make a demonstrable difference for eight days in four communities across our city (June 1-8). "But the heart of it all will be the participation of our UBA churches," says Dr. Billings as he encourages churches to begin now to be involved in the important stages of preparation.
Information about Loving Houston will be available on a dedicated website, www.lovinghouston.net. There you will be able to find about the project, the locations, and the volunteers needed. You will also be able to take a virtual prayer walk of the areas in the city where we will be working. You will find a downloadable 28-day prayer guide which you, your Bible study class, your mission group or your church can use to pray for the city.
"Undertaking a project of this size and scope won't be easy," says Dr. Billings. "In all likelihood, it will be the most significant project we've ever undertaken as an association. What it will do is glorify God, serve people in need and provide a wonderful opportunity to make the love of Christ real and tangible to people who need Him."
Plan now to be a part of Loving Houston in 2013.
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