It is a general rule of civilized conversation to steer clear of two topics – politics and religion. But at First Baptist Sweetwater, they will take the brave step to merge the two at their three-day Come. Drink. Live! Conference this weekend.
While the speakers that accepted invitations hold conservative views, Pastor Joel Breidenbaugh insists the conference isn’t endorsing candidates.
“We’re not telling people who to vote for,” he said. “We are helping to inform them and motivate them to vote their values. We are laying out issues that are biblical and foundational.”
Pastor Breidenbaugh has served as senior pastor at First Baptist Sweetwater since October 2008.
Among the topics discussed this weekend will be religious liberty, immigration, life vs. choice and marriage.
According to Breidenbaugh, Sweetwater puts on themed events every two years, but not always political in nature. In the past the topics were Apologetics, Building Your Family, defending your faith and international missions. He chose a political themed event for 2016, because it is an election year.
“We hoped to time it just before the Florida Presidential Primary (which is March 15th).”
Among the speakers are attorneys, authors and a member of the Florida House of Representatives. Some are local and others nationally known.
Russell Moore is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral concerns and public policy entity of the nation's largest Protestant denomination. He is a frequent cultural commentator, an ethicist and theologian by background, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister. Moore is author of several books, including Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel.
Mat Staver is the Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and also serves as Vice President of Liberty University, Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law, and Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action. Mat holds Bachelor, Master, and Juris Doctorate degrees and an honorary Doctorate of Laws and a Doctorate of Divinity. His most recent book is Eternal Vigilance: Knowing and Protecting Your Religious Freedom. As a former pastor and constitutional attorney, Mat produces and hosts Faith & Freedom, a 15-minute daily radio program and Freedom's Call, a 90-second daily radio program. More about Liberty Counsel can be found here.
Representative Jennifer Sullivan was born and raised in Central Florida and is the granddaughter of founding First Baptist Sweetwater member, Jane Yeackle. Sullivan is a member of the Lake County Republican Executive Committee and sits on the Executive Board. With her extensive grassroots involvement and leadership development skills, Jennifer at 23, became the youngest woman elected to the Florida Legislature. Seven of the eight bills she sponsored during her first legislative session became law, including a law requiring an abortion provider to meet with a woman seeking an abortion for a consultation appointment at least 24 hours prior to her procedure
John Stemberger is an Orlando attorney who has been an advocate for life, marriage and family for over 30 years. Stemberger became the President of the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC) in 2004. Since then he led the successful campaign to amend Florida's Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, adopted by 61.9% of Florida voters in 2008. In 2009 Stemberger received international media attention for representing Rifqa Bary, the Muslim teenager from Columbus, Ohio, who fled to Florida after she was threatened to be killed for not renouncing her faith after her conversion from Islam to Christianity was discovered. More about FFPC can be found here.
The conference is on Friday and Saturday from 6:30-8:30 PM and on Sunday from 9:00 AM-Noon. A detailed schedule can be seen here.
Sweetwater Baptist Church is at 3800 Wekiva Springs Road.
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