Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cooperative Baptist General Assembly 2009

We arrived in HOT Houston, Texas at around 8:30AM, took our time getting the one bag we checked and looked around for transportation options from the airport to the Hilton Hotel. A taxi was 51 dollars, a shuttle was going to be 30 dollars and the regular bus was $1.25 per person.  So, we opted to take the most common mode of transportation for the working poor in many cities.  The ride took about an hour but was well worth it. I was able to do my daily devotion and scripture reading on a city bus surrounded by interesting people.  We were even able to meet new people and hear several personal stories along the way.

Once we arrived downtown Houston the bus dropped us off about 7 blocks from the Hotel.  So, we walked, (thank you Lord for luggage with wheels).  My first reaction was, "man, it's really not that hot here."  Then after the 5th block, sweat pouring from every part of my body "Umm I am REALLY hot."  

Walking into the hotel was like walking into an ice box. I had instant relief but also I must admit that I had pride in the fact that we took the city bus and walked 7 blocks. After being informed that we were unable to get a room until 11am we checked our lugage in at the bell hop station and took off outside to EXPLORE the city.  That's when we came upon a dog jumping/diving contest.  YES!!!!!  Thank you LORD!!    
We stood outside in the 100 degree  weather laughing hysterically at all these dog people talking very parent like to their dogs.  Then the big shabang happened.  Fido after Fido jumped into the waater.  Hands clapping.  Owners very proud.  The score revealed.  More clapping.  Our response "What the hell is going on here??"  Roger then says "I don't know but this is HILARIOUS." 

Here is a picture of the hotel from the park. We kept looking at it praying that a room would become available before 4pm.
We also happened upon a family of hard core bikers.  They had their WHOLE family on one LONG bike.  The WHOLE thing was connected.  I was like "Oh man, Look at that."  Roger "SHH your yelling and pointing.  stop pointing."
AT 11am, after being up since 3 am riding a plane, riding a city bus, walking 7 blocks in 100 degree weather, and observing some strange dog owners, we FINALLY got our room.  I immediately washed up, put some comfy "I never leave the house in this" clothes on, jumped into the bed and sent Roger out in search of some greasy food.  My nap was so incredible and when I woke up I got to enjoy a yummy blue cheese burger with sweet potato fries. I was in heaven. Needless to say I ate that same meal three times.  It was THAT good.  

The CBF didn't start until Wednesday evening, the main events starting on Thursday. So, Roger and I were able to hang out alone in a huge hotel with very few people. It was so nice. Every morning we would wake around 6am. I would eat breakfast (dry cereal we obtained at a local grocery) while doing my daily devotion and bible reading and Roger would shower off a bit. Then we would head up to the roof with my hot lady grey tea and his hotel coffee. I packed some tea in my carry on!!!  Why?? Because I'm smart like that :)  And I LOVE tea.

It was so nice sitting alone on the roof, looking out over the city, watching the movement of the clouds. We read and talked and read and talked.  Then we would swim several laps in the pool and laugh about how we were "absolutely not olympic swimmers." Then we would lay out in the sun and read some more.  

Around lunch time we would head back to the room to get dressed and then go on a search for a good pub to grab a sandwich and a nice cold adult beverage.  After lunch we would EXPLORE the city. In other words we walked around for hours and hours in the heat, people watching. 

 On tuesday we took the metro train down to the museum district and explored the contemporary art museum, the Jung Center and the Rothko Chapel.  We also picked up a loaf of bread, some peanut butter and some fruit so that the rest of the week we would have a cheap lunch in our room and would be able to go out with friends for a nice dinner.

In the evenings we had a great time laughing alone in the room. I adored the window. We were on the 17th floor so I couldn't help but stand in the window seal and look out. 

 Roger decided that the window should give birth to me.  And I agreed. 
On Friday evening as I was looking out the window ( I was totally doing the standing on the window seal thing again) I noticed a big crowd of people across the street.  "I wonder what that's all about??"  Then, after turning on the news, I discovered that a republican TEA party was taking place.  So, we called the Shoulta's and took off to get some dinner at the Lake house (it was totally not a lake. it was a pond that they decided to call a lake but that's a whole other blog) to get a burger.  The lake house just so happened to be right smack dab in the middle of Republican HATE feast.  Lovely.  no really.  LOVELY!!!  We had a blast listening to the poorly put together speeches full of "let the poor be poor.  they have every right to be poor. just like we have every right to KEEP OUR MONEY."  I was like "WOW, such a deep hate down in their soul all because they are greedy and lusting after wealth."  The signs were even better.  Roger of course had a sign pushed into his face and yet again made a great argument which ended in the couple not knowing what to say and lowering their sign.  Other than that we just walked around in amazement taking random pictures.  At one point Val said "Well, I was registered independent but after this I am pretty sure I'm democrat."  my response "yeah, this is pretty eye opening. I believe I need to change from independent as well." 
After going to the CBF general assembly, attending small discussion groups on poverty, peacemaking, human trafficking, and missional churches we alas had to pack up to catch our return flight home.  
We had such an empowering week spent in the presence of people who have that unexplainable inner desire to love their neighbor as their self. I was so happy that I was brought to tears. I can't explain to you how lonely I have felt over the past years.  While everyone around me seems to be, to take a quote from one of the speakers at the CBF, "doing the church instead of BEING the church."  I have felt that I am the lone person.  But no. There ARE other Baptist out there who care about social justice issues AND evangelism. It shouldn't be either/ or.

 The spirit at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was so unlike the spirit I had once experienced at the Southern Baptist Convention.  It was a spirit of true JOY. A spirit of LOVE. A spirit of INNER PEACE. A spirit of UNDERSTANDING. 

On the last day during the last service there was communion by intinction. We stood in line, one by one breaking a peace of bread off of the loaf and dipping it into the cup before placing it upon our tongues. For the first time I felt "This is where I belong.  These are my peeps!!"  Tears of joy began to build up within me that I quickly suppressed.  I left feeling empowered, encouraged, hopeful of my future.  So, I did what any woman who is attending seminary does. I bought a "This is what a preacher looks like" t-shirt from the Baptist Women in Ministry organization.  Yes, I totally felt the LOVE. 

After we arrived in Louisville I marched my little self over to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and had a lovely photo shoot with my new t-shirt and my new found self confidence in pursuing my Master of Divinity degree.  Rog and I laughed and joked and left our rough church past behind.  We will push forward with the help of our new found community. The CBF!!      

PS: One night we decided to walk up 17 flights of stairs just for the heck of it. But after spotting a condom wrapper and some cig butts roger chickened out "it's creepy in here. People are clearly doing dark things in here."  Although I was disappointed that our adventure ended so soon I must admit that I was a bit creeped out as well.


  1. Jessica,
    Thanks for your post. You don't know me...I'm Mike and work with Tennessee CBF. I ran across your post via a google alert I have set up for CBF articles. I had a very similar experience when I attended my first CBF assembly. thanks for sharing! Peace!

  2. Jessica,
    You don't know me either...I'm Christina & I work with CBFSC. I'm so glad you found community with us crazy CBFers! Cheers! :)

  3. Jessica,

    Hey so I am the third person you don't know to comment but I really appreciated your blog. I wish I had met you this past week. Are you plugged in with Current stuff? It is a great way to connect- anyway not the point my point is I am glad to be part of your extended community. Enjoy getting your MDiv- seminary was some of the best years of my life. Preach on!

  4. Good stuff. I found your blog through Mike. Glad you had such a great experience and found a home in CBF.

  5. thanks you all!!! we truly are excited and feel the love :)