Nearly two centuries ago (1814 to be precise), white Baptists in America, embracing a new movement - "missions" - came together in unity in the form of what became known as the Triennial Convention (it met every three years). Of course, the unity was limited to whites, and even then it did not last long; three decades after forming, Baptists in the South separated from their northern counterparts over the issue of slavery.
One could well argue that this week signals the first substantial attempt at Baptist unity in America since 1814 - and this time the unity is truly inclusive. In fact, this time African American and other non-white Baptists are at the forefront of the movement toward unity.
In this modern era, no new conventions or structures will come of the New Baptist Covenant Celebration. However, look for unprecedented partnerships in the wake of this meeting, efforts that move beyond long-standing superficial barriers in working together to take the love of Christ to those who most need it.
In short, look for a new era in Baptist life.