Operating on a shoestring budget, the 34th Spring Seminar of Mission Possible: Christian Outreach Service Mission (COSM) is one its participants will long remember.
Philanthropist and founder Thelma Nelms was inspired to take this year's conference (April 25th -26th) to historic Birmingham, Ala. It proved a rewarding decision, followed by a weekend of successive "miracles."
Beginning with the kick-off at the historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, seminar attendees settled in for a moving opening ceremony in the church fellowship hall. It was there on Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963 at 10:22 a.m. that the church became known around the world when a bomb exploded killing four young girls and injuring more than 20 others attending Sunday School.
"You are here by divine appointment for a divine assignment, in His divine order," Nelms said repeatedly.
Nelms original decision to go to Birmingham was to honor "Mother" Edna Sanders, evangelist and prayer warrior, who was saluted with a $1,000 humanitarian award. Sanders is credited with leading thousands of people to salvation and commitment to Christ.
Along with meeting Sanders, Memphis seminar participants were delighted to meet other celebrated figures and revel in the history those civil rights icons live with on a daily basis.
The Rev. Dr. Carolyn Maull McKinstry, who was present in 1963 on the day of the bombing, was one of those appointments. McKinstry was also honored by Mission Possible at the conference's luncheon.
Other contributors to the seminar's success included: Thomas L. Wilder Jr., pastor of another historic Birmingham church, Bethel Baptist Church, where in 1963 there were three church bombings but no fatalities, and the Rev. Arthur Price, Jr., current pastor of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
Connections and friendships were developed, resulting in an invitation by Pastor Wilder for Mission Possible to bring its 2015 Spring Seminar back to Birmingham with Bethel Baptist as becoming the host site. Additionally, Dr. McKinstry and Martha Bouyer, president of the Sixteenth Street Church Foundation, will be Mission Possible guests on May 23rd-25th during a weekend of receptions and retreats. The invitation only-event begins with a Reconciliation Breakfast and Sunset Retreat on Friday; followed by a Retreat Day on Saturday; and culminating with "A Rap with Civil Rights Experts" on Sunday.