Like a call from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, back when I was a young pastor years ago the secretary of James Montgomery Boice, the famous pastor whom I had never met, called and asked if I would like for Dr. Boice to preach for us in Kokomo. I could not believe it then, so perhaps you do not believe me now. So here’s the story.
In 1996 WORLD magazine reported on the newly formed Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (ACE) as many of their leaders met in historic Cambridge, Massachusetts, to address their concern over the decline of modern evangelicalism. As they formulated the Cambridge Declaration to speak against the mass marketing techniques, worldly worship styles, and doctrinal confusion of the Western church, WORLD reported the following:
But Southern Baptist ACE participant Mark Coppenger, new president of Kansas City’s Midwestern Baptist Seminary, urged the group not to get overly uppity – and not to forget its own sometimes “patrician” marketing styles. Pointing out that ACE’s summit deliberately was staged in prestigious Cambridge, he suggested coyly that “We could have met, at less cost, in Kokomo, Ind. But we all know that somehow a ‘Kokomo Declaration’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.” (WORLD, “God and Man at Cambridge,” May 11, 1996 issue)
Well, that last sentence jumped out at me, so with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek I whipped off a letter to the editor:
Hey, wait a minute! In your article about the Cambridge Declaration (May 11/18), one participant noted that marketing strategy was used in holding the conference in Cambridge rather than meeting, for instance, “at less cost in Kokomo, Indiana.” Being a pastor of the only Reformed church – and an a capella psalm singing one at that – in a town where carnivals (a new car was raffled off in one service), pet baptisms, and rock band performances are standard fare for Sunday morning services, I rather relish the thought of Sproul, Godfrey, Boice, Horton, and others coming to town. He said a “‘Kokomo Declaration’ does not have the same ring to it.” But what about the “Kokomoan Kreed”? Or perhaps the “Kouncil of Kokomo”? Just let me know when. I’ll make reservations for you at the Koko Motel! – Barry York, Kokomo, Ind. (WORLD, June 8, 1996)
I doubted it would be published, and certainly it never crossed my mind that the men I mentioned would actually read it. Yet Dr. Boice saw it and, realizing he would be visiting family near us, had his secretary call me. We scheduled for him to preach for us on August 4th of that summer.
Though I warned him before he came, when the big day arrived I was not sure what he would think. Being a small church plant and meeting in the fairly rundown, local YWCA, we were a far cry from Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. Yet Dr. and Mrs. Boice were so gracious and genuinely excited about being with us. They radiated the love of the Lord. When the time for the sermon came, Dr. Boice recounted parts of the above story. Then he said that “rather than holding the Kouncil of Kokomo, today will mark the beginning of the Kokomo Krusade.”
Sadly for us still in the church militant, Dr. Boice left us a few years later. Fifteen years since he was in Kokomo what I really remember is his wonderful bass voice filling the gym (we had to move there for the extra visitors) and our hearts with his message “Glory to God Alone” from Romans 11:33-36. It was classic Boice preaching – Christ-centered, Scripture-illuminating, confessionally-consistent, helpfully-illustrated, and aptly applied. For some time it has been buried in our church’s website archives. In digging it up when I was asked for it recently, I thought perhaps others of you would appreciate hearing it. Just click the link below.