I recently had lunch with an old friend, and former CBA executive director, John Bass. Many of you will remember John, the former World War II Navy combat veteran, personnel director for Moody Bible Institute, and popular seminar leader, who picked up the mantle of CBA leadership in 1965.
John continued to serve CBA until his retirement in 1988, and oversaw some significant events in CBA’s history, including the move of our offices from Illinois to Colorado Springs, the initiation of regional seminars, and the expansion of international chapters. John’s visionary leadership also led the industry to plan for the effects of technology, automation, and e-commerce—long before the Internet became a part of daily life. You may not know this, but John was also a strong advocate for small business, and even appeared before the Joint Committee for Small Business Legislation to represent CBA members on several concerns regarding the effects of legislation, such as governmental programs, regulations, taxation, and the minimum wage bill, on small business and our industry. John helped lay the groundwork for much of the work CBA continues today, as an advocate, thought-leader, champion, and connector for our industry.
John got me to thinking about the role CBA has played over the last 65 years—how much we’ve accomplished together and why it’s so important to remember the past as we plan for the future.
I pulled out my copies of Twenty-Five Years of Sterling Reward in God’s Service (1974) and His Time, His Way (1999), and took a little walk down memory lane. Some of you may remember that the first time we gathered together at a CBA Convention was in 1950 at LaSalle Hotel in Chicago. Among the 279 retailers and 48 suppliers in attendance were Ken Taylor and Robert Kregel, to name a few. Over the years, descriptions like “history in the making,” “a family affair,” “leaving a legacy,” and “a global vision” appeared throughout the myriad event descriptions, displays, and presentations—too many to name here.
Page after page was filled not only with notable speakers and performers, but industry leaders—past, present, and future—new technologies, advances in the industry, visions for the future…in short, we were making history, and attendees got a chance to see their unique contributions therein each time we gathered together.
As an industry, we’ve journeyed a long way together. I believe we also have a bright future, in spite of these changing and tumultuous times. That’s why it’s so important for us to continue to come together, to confront our challenges and celebrate our victories, to share our stories and lift up one another, to remember what the Lord has done and to make history.
Our shared history gives us a cause to come together and celebrate each year at the International Christian Retail Show. If you’ve ever wondered if what you’re doing still matters, how your story is connected to God’s larger story for this industry, or how we’re going to weather the times ahead, you need to be there.
History will continue to be made at the International Christian Retail Show, and it won’t be the same without you.