SAN ANTONIO -- With children gathered around and a Dr. Seuss book in hand, Baptist General Convention of Texas President Jeff Johnson added a metaphorical twist to this year's presidential message.
Johnson began his message at the Texas Baptists Family Gathering, an event that brought together the diverse Texas Baptist family, by reading The Sneetches, a Dr. Seuss story where the sneetches learn a valuable lesson about peaceful coexistence between one another regardless of their diverse appearance. Johnson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Commerce, grasped the children's attention on the stage as the screens displayed picture-book slides for the adult audience to view.
"God loves diversity," he told the congregation after the children exited the stage. "God loves the nations. He loves across all geographical boundaries."
The presidential message centered on diverse perspectives found in the New Testament. Jesus' love for all people is evident in the gospel, Johnson explained. He saves the poor, the captive, the blind, the oppressed, the Jews and the gentiles. Jesus also had a diverse approach in choosing his 12 apostles. Their profession, from fisherman to tax collector, and societal status made no difference.
Johnson highlighted Acts 2 where the believers gathered together for Pentecost. He noted the crowd represented twelve different countries that day in Jerusalem.
After the apostles performed miraculous signs and wonders, the believers met together and shared everything they had. They worshiped, prayed and fellowshipped together regardless of their differences. They enjoyed the "goodwill of all people."
Johnson said as a leader in the convention, his prayer is that God's people and all people in Texas would see the diversity of the convention and understand what it stands for.
"I am so thankful that I am a part of the diverse group called Texas Baptists," he said. "Texas Baptists are one of the greatest groups in the world."
Before Johnson could continue on to his next sentence, another person took the stage, introduced himself and proclaimed, "I am a Texas Baptist!"
More than 20 individuals from all types of backgrounds -- West African, Hispanic, cowboy and more --followed the gentleman's lead and each ended their diverse introductions with, "I am a Texas Baptist!"
Just as the sneetches coexisted peacefully with one another in the children's story, Johnson said, "We are a diverse group, and we are excited!"
Story by Leah Allen