The evangelistic outreach will precede the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention June 10-11, 2014 in Baltimore, which will draw thousands of Southern Baptists to the city.
The Baltimore Baptist Association, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and North American Mission Board will cooperate to provide various opportunities to share the Gospel in the area.
Cindy Irizarry, who directs Crossover Baltimore's mobilization and logistics, said the Baltimore Baptist Association has enlisted several churches in the area to host Crossover evangelistic events leading up to and on Saturday, June 7.
Representatives of 20-plus gathered at Manna Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore in early June to worship and begin praying toward next year's outreach. Bob Mackey, director of missions for the Baltimore association, requested prayer for God to raise up participants from all over the country.
"Make no mistake about it, the single most partners that we have developed in the last seven years ... have come from the states of Maryland and Delaware," Mackey said, referencing those came to participate in Embrace Baltimore, a strategic ministry and evangelism focus on the city, in recent years. "That's just to let you know, our brothers and sisters who are a part of our state convention near us have a passion to partner with us -- in addition to others from 25 other states for the same thing."
To encourage passionate planning and praying, Tally Wilgis, pastor of Captivate Christian Church in Towson, Md., pointed to the large amount of money spent on the Preakness horse race, held at nearby Pimlico Race Course.
In May, more than 117,000 people flooded the race course and more than $80 million was wagered in the week leading up to the Preakness, including $50 million on the day of the race, Wilgis said.
The state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore took in an excess of $40 million through economic revenue, he added.
"The goal of this race, which lasted less than two minutes, was to see which horse would get across an imaginary line first," Wilgis said. "And then it was over."
Wilgis observed that people who don't know the Lord are preparing well over a year in advance for a race where horses will cross an imaginary line because of an "expectation for what might happen a year from now."
Pointing to Ezekiel 37, where God breathes life into dry bones, Wilgis urged pastors and church members to plan next year's Crossover with even greater anticipation.
"We gather together ... with a hopeful and prayerful optimism that maybe, just maybe, the Lord might see fit to bring to Baltimore an event far more than any horse race," he said. "We're coming together to seek God to have His Spirit fall on us and stir a citywide revival."
Also at the event, Dale South, pastor of Long Green Baptist Church in Glen Arm, Md., led participants to pray and brainstorm potential outreach ideas for their specific communities. People gathered in groups to pray and write down their ideas. Then they brought them forward to be compiled and shared at a later date.
Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., and BCM/D president, closed in prayer, thanking God in advance for "sending laborers to the harvest."
Shannon Baker is a correspondent for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. For more information, visit embracebaltimore.com/crossover.
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