This might be the first RCM planner profile conducted by the side of a road, but it was necessary for safety purposes. No drivers were harmed in the making of this story.
It's the right thing to do because Obadiah Jenkins, one of the newest members of the association's board of directors, makes his living on the road.
“You know those brown trucks that run through your city?” he asks as cars whiz by in the background. “That's what I do for a living!”
Jenkins, 52, is the convention planner for the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A., based in Brandon, Mississippi (just outside Jackson, where Jenkins was born and has lived his entire life). His 16,000 fellow members nationwide count on him to organize and produce their annual convention as well as several smaller meetings.
He has been the church's planner since 2000. But it's not a full-time job by any means. For that he drives a UPS delivery truck, as he has for the last 35 years.
“Since I've been working at UPS, I have not had a day regretting I went to work,” Jenkins says cheerfully.
Jenkins, a graduate of Belhaven College with a degree in business administration, gives his time and energies to the church because it's the right thing to do. “I want to be able to give something back that I received as a child growing up,” he says. “It's a part of our duty that God called us. Because we are saved, we do works. And I want to help young people as they come along.”
The man Jenkins succeeded as planner was an RCMA member and urged his protégé to join as well. Jenkins did, and he has no regrets about that, either.
“My first convention was Columbus; the only one I've missed since then was Pittsburgh,” he says. “I've made friends in the industry, and they help me to get right to what I'm looking for, whether it's the experience of networking with other people or the joy of helping my church find a venue that's conducive to the entire congregation.”
Must Be Good for All
When seeking a venue for Church of Christ (Holiness) conventions, Jenkins starts with one overriding notion: “It's got to be a fit for everyone, not just the younger people. It's finding a venue that will fit my attendees — for the mom, the dad and three kids.”
The big annual event attracts as many as 2,000 people. The church leans strongly toward single hotels that can host all its events under one roof. “We don't like to use a convention center,” Jenkins says. “If there is a small hotel connected to a convention center, we'd rather use a large hotel that can host the entire group.”
The Church of Christ (Holiness) six-day national conference is scheduled every July (it meets this year in Dallas); it starts on a Wednesday and goes through the following Tuesday. It was, until recently, a seven-day event and will likely cut back another day soon.
“Before I sign another, I think we will approve scaling it back,” says Jenkins.
“On the first day, our board of directors meets. On Thursday, the executive board meets. On Friday, we have our general convention. All the delegates come to workshops and worship services throughout the weekend. Monday, the men will meet with the board of bishops. Also on Monday, the women's auxiliary meets.”
The conference moves to different cities based on a recent change in selection criteria: The best deal gets the job done. It's no longer a regional rotation.
“Most of our delegates are from the South,” Jenkins says. “Fifty percent are from Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. We have seven regions within our national church. We used to rotate regions. Now we'll go where we find the best offer. Our driving force is rate.”
Speaking of a driving force …
Time to go. The road calls Obadiah Jenkins, husband, father of two, grandfather of three.
“I drive 170 miles a day,” he says, preparing to hang up the cell phone. “I love my job.”