Big Jim didn’t like the formality at all. “James Salles” on his nametag just wouldn’t do.
He promptly requested a Sharpie and took care of it. Now that’s better, he said.
The proud Texan and his wife, Sue, (or Mother, as he called her) were late registering for the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix. They had car trouble along the way and were exhausted by the desert heat but the sweet southern accents and polite nature of two young Alabama Baptists made everything right again.
Jacob Tidwell of First Baptist Church, Montgomery, moved immediately to creating a new nametag for Big Jim with the approved nickname so he didn’t have to wear the Sharpie-
Tidwell showed the same care for “Ms. Sue” as he made sure she collected her book of ballots, convention program and nametag. Tidwell’s astute observation skills and polite but quick action combined with Judson College student Kaylee Roth’s sweet banter pulled big smiles and lots of laughter from the Salles family.
And Roth’s warm smile and Cracker Barrel-trained “thanks, honey bunches” sealed the deal — Big Jim and Ms. Sue felt totally at home.
Tidwell and Roth were among 23 college-age young adults from Alabama Baptist churches serving at the SBC registration counters and as greeters and ushers at the doors.
Once I knew the secret code — they were all wearing white golf shirts — then they were easy to spot in the crowds.
As I approached the front door to the convention center the next morning, friendly smiles and warm welcomes greeted me. And yes — white shirts. More Alabama Baptist young adults representing our state and our faith with joyous hearts and gracious spirits.
Alyssa McGee of Hillcrest Baptist Church, Maplesville, and a student at the University of Alabama; Korey Cowart of Central Heights Baptist Church, Florence,and a student at the University of North Alabama; and Rita Pearson-Daley of First, Montgomery, and a student at UAB — all showcasing the Light as they served.
‘Staying with the stuff’
These roles aren’t seen as glamorous like the activities of the platform personalities or the featured presenters at the top-level exhibits but they are acts of service that affect the experience of the participants. They are what a friend of mine calls “staying with the stuff.”
There must be a dependable support team in place consistently working through the routine parts of any ministry, organization or event. Without that team the people called to be out front wouldn’t be able to sustain their responsibilities.
My co-worker Wanda emailed me a prayer as I departed for Phoenix: “May God bless you in your coming and going. May you be so full of the Holy Spirit that He splashes out wherever you walk.”
Her words resurfaced in my mind as I watched our Alabama students in action. What a difference a touch of kindness, joyous heart and gracious spirit make — even in the routine moments.
—Jennifer Davis Rash