December 2012

W.Va. Baptists increase CP giving

December 2 2012 by Baptist Press

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – Messengers to the 42nd annual meeting of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists at Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg, W.Va., received “inspirational and instructive” reports, according to Terry Harper, the convention’s executive director.

“Who could doubt that we have wonderful, conservative leaders heading our seminaries after hearing Chuck Kelley from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary as he presented the annual Bible study for each session?” Harper wrote to West Virginia Baptists after the Nov. 2-3 meeting, which drew 157 messengers and 51 guests from all 10 Baptist associations in the state.

“Some were unable to make it as a result of the effects of Hurricane Sandy and the power outages that resulted from the storm,” Harper wrote.

“We are grateful for those who came to assist us here in West Virginia, especially the feeding teams from the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. We are also most appreciative for the contributions of so many of you to our disaster relief funds,” Harper wrote, additionally commending the Baptist General Association of Virginia for sending relief workers.

An offering collected at the pastors’ conference and the annual meeting yielded more than $2,000 for disaster relief related to Hurricane Sandy.

The annual meeting featured an emphasis on church planting, highlighting several new churches during a video presentation. A “tremendous missions challenge” was given by Steve Davis, the North American Mission Board’s vice president for the Midwest region, Harper told Baptist Press.

Messengers approved a 2013 budget of $2,631,268, down about $280,000 from the current year. West Virginia anticipates forwarding $567,570 to national and international Cooperative Program ministries. The convention increased its Cooperative Program giving from 38 to 39 percent at the meeting. No shared expense with the SBC are designated in the budget. The North American Mission Board will provide $1,037,905 to the West Virginia convention.

Greg Varndell, pastor of Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg, was re-elected president of the convention. Also elected as convention officers: first vice president, Don Knotts, pastor of Wayside Baptist Church in Buckhannon; second vice president, John Freeman, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Chapmanville; and clerk, Jim Messenger, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in West Union.

Messengers approved a change to the convention’s constitution now stating that the state Woman’s Missionary Union president will serve as an ex officio, non-voting member of the Executive Board.

West Virginia Baptists signed a memorandum of understanding with the West Virginia National Guard in order to establish a framework for churches to partner with the guard to assist soldiers and their families.

Messengers passed a resolution on same-sex marriage, stating that marriage is “an institution established by God rather than simply a human social construction” and noted the growing trend in the United States to accept same-sex marriage.

In the resolution, West Virginia Baptists went on record opposing same-sex marriage and affirming marriage as between one man and one woman in an “exclusive union delineated in Scripture.” They resolved to engage the culture on the issue while standing against hateful rhetoric toward homosexuals.

A second resolution emphasized the importance of ministry to college students and stated that the convention would re-establish onsite collegiate missionary positions on certain West Virginia campuses “as soon as it is fiscally feasible” in order to influence and disciple the next generation.

A third resolution commended local churches, associations, committees and other volunteers who helped “bring about a meeting characterized by grace, evangelism, worship, encouragement, cooperation, and purpose.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Based on reporting by Greg Wrigley of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists.)
12/2/2012 2:25:21 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Wyo. Baptist meeting has Gideon as theme

December 2 2012 by Baptist Press

BUFFALO, Wyo. – Messengers to the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention considered the biblical account of Gideon with the theme “Who Me? So What? Wow!” based on Judges 6-8 during their 29th annual meeting at Big Horn Baptist Church in Buffalo.

The Nov. 8-9 sessions drew 90 messengers and 22 guests from the convention’s 106 churches and missions with a total membership of nearly 11,000.

A report by the Future Study Group was delivered, presenting a future design, structure and decentralized staffing plan that creates more local support and ownership of strategy and ministry.

Messengers approved a 2013 budget of $1,431,715, a decrease of about $17,000 from the current year. The convention anticipates $545,000 in Cooperative Program (CP) giving from Wyoming churches, and Wyoming Baptists will continue to forward 32.75 percent of CP receipts to national and international missions and ministries. Wyoming Baptists designate 8.4 percent of their budget as shared expenses.

All convention officers were re-elected: president, Quin Williams, pastor of Boyd Avenue Baptist Church in Casper; first vice president, Mike Cooper, pastor of College Heights Baptist Church in Casper; second vice president, Clay Alexander, pastor of Big Horn Baptist Church in Buffalo; recording secretary, Hope Reynolds, a member of Heart of the Valley Baptist Church in Mountain View; and assistant recording secretary, Renee’ Hanson, a member of Mountain View Baptist Church in Mills.

Next year’s annual meeting of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention, marking the convention’s 30th anniversary, will be Nov. 7-8 at First Southern Baptist Church in Casper.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Based on reporting by the staff of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention.)
12/2/2012 2:22:44 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Ill. Baptists recognize strength in cooperation

December 1 2012 by Meredith Flynn, Baptist Press

DECATUR, Ill. – Messengers to the 106th annual meeting of the Illinois Baptist State Association (IBSA) heard an urgent plea: Go – to the places and people in the state with the greatest need and with a spirit of partnership and cooperation.

“For Southern Baptists in particular, the strength has always been in cooperating,” IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams said. “Let’s choose to cooperate, to be dependent on each other.”

“Mission Illinois” was the theme of the meeting, attended by 418 registered messengers and additional visitors at Decatur’s Tabernacle Baptist Church Nov. 14-15. The annual pastors’ conference preceded the meeting and featured four speakers on the topic “Renew.”

Illinois’ major metro areas – Chicago and East St. Louis – took center stage at the meeting, as messengers heard numerous challenges to take the gospel to the places where the most lost people live.

“Every believer in Illinois is responsible to reach the people of Illinois,” IBSA President Jonathan Peters said. “And the people of Illinois, for the most part, still live in large urban centers.”

‘A heart for God’s people’

Peters’ president’s message helped set forth the “Mission Illinois” theme to messengers as did the annual sermon from Marvin Parker of Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in Broadview, who was backed by his church’s choir and worship band.

Several videos during the meeting also drew on the Mission Illinois theme, including the stories of two women – one in Chicago and one in metro St. Louis – who came to Christ through the ministry of local churches in those cities.

“My whole life is changed,” said Deidre, now a member of Resurrection House Baptist Church in Chicago. “The sincerity, the love, the support, the encouragement – they are truly people with a heart for God’s people.”

Peters, pastor of First Baptist Church in Columbia, spoke from personal experience about the importance of taking the gospel to cities. A native of Chicago, he never heard the gospel until he met students from the Baptist campus ministry at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. During the annual meeting, Peters, who now pastors in a St. Louis suburb, was elected by acclimation to a second term as IBSA president.

The association’s other officers also were re-elected by acclamation: Odis Weaver, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Plainfield, vice president; Nina Wilson, a member of First Baptist Church in Machesney Park, recording secretary; and Melissa Carruthers, a member of Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville, assistant recording secretary.

IBSA’s Resolutions and Christian Life Committee brought three resolutions before messengers, expressing appreciation for meeting host Tabernacle Baptist and to IBSA staff and affirming belief in God’s triune nature. Messengers approved all three resolutions.

Budgets from IBSA’s three boards (the state association, Baptist Foundation of Illinois and Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services), were approved, as well as a Cooperative Program goal of $6.5 million, down from $6.7 million for the current year and including 10 percent in shared expenses with the Southern Baptist Convention. Illinois sends 43.25 percent of CP gifts to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions, the fifth-highest percentage among 42 state conventions.

1% Challenge leader

SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page gave Illinois Baptists an in-person thank-you for how they’ve responded to the Cooperative Program 1% Challenge he posed at last year’s IBSA annual meeting and to churches across the nation.

“The state of Illinois has been one of the leaders in accepting the 1% Challenge,” Page said of the initiative for churches to increase their Cooperative Program giving by 1 percent of their budgets.

In his IBSA board report, Adams said giving through the Cooperative Program and the Illinois Mission Offering is up compared to this time last year, not counting a large estate gift that was part of 2011’s IMO.

The IBSA Credentials Committee presented 10 new churches for affiliation with IBSA and requested that Peters appoint a 12-member study committee to determine whether the IBSA constitution gives adequate guidance to their work of considering new churches.

The committee also recommended that eight churches be withdrawn from IBSA fellowship because they have been non-cooperating for at least 10 years. The churches are not affiliated with a local association and were non-responsive during a year-long reclamation process. The total number of IBSA churches and missions is 999.

In other meeting activity, $1,859 was collected for the annual Ministers’ Relief Offering, used to assist pastors facing unanticipated transitions.

The 2013 IBSA annual meeting will be Nov. 13-14 at the Hilton Springfield.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Meredith Flynn is associate editor of the Illinois Baptist, the newsjournal of the Illinois Baptist State Association.)
12/1/2012 3:01:00 PM by Meredith Flynn, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Mo. Baptists gain via communication, cooperation

December 1 2012 by Allen Palmeri, Baptist Press

ST. LOUIS – Buoyed by news that Cooperative Program (CP) giving is holding steady, messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) 178th annual meeting approved a $14.6 million budget and entered into new partnerships with New York and Mexico.

The theme for the convention’s Oct. 29-31 sessions in St. Louis was “Gratitude” based on Psalm 107:1. Registration totaled 923 messengers and 295 visitors from 398 churches.

MBC Executive Director John Yeats, in his address to messengers, said the emphasis on communication and cooperation he has been sowing in his first year are beginning to take root. Yeats said a convention “reboot” is now necessary in building toward the future.

“We know in our heads that by working together we are enabled to do things on a larger scale than we could possibly ever do as individuals, individual churches, one association or even two associations,” Yeats said. “Our Baptist forefathers discovered that our churches, by making a proportional gift to the Cooperative Program, could accomplish greater things than we could ever imagine or dream....

“But for lots of reasons, we lost sight of the cooperative vision and began embracing the power of individualism as acceptable to our culture. As a result, our cooperative work has been financially on the skids,” Yeats said.

Messengers approved a $14.6 million Cooperative Program budget, up from the current $14.5 million. CP receipts for the year are projected to come in around $14.6 million (up 6 percent from last year). Budgeted funds for 2013 will be allocated 37.5 percent for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) causes – up 0.25 percent – and 62.5 percent for MBC causes.

Yeats cited one unprecedented statistic – CP giving is up this year by around an average of $1,600 per day from last year. Meanwhile, the MBC is maintaining $2 million in reserve funds.

Yeats noted that the MBC is now on a “50-50 by 2020” course to balance state and national giving for CP causes in the next seven years. through a “legacy” approach to budgeting. Approved by the SBC in the 1950s, the method involves placing selected items into a “shared” funding category (meaning they would not count toward 50-50). Within those parameters, Yeats said the MBC would now focus on annuity protections and The Pathway. Special status is warranted in both cases, he said, because the ministry flows back to the churches.

For 2013 this will mean $297,250 will go toward The Pathway as it transitions from paid subscriptions to an open circulation model distributed at no extra charge to upwards of 30,000 homes. For the annuity protections, the dollar amount will be $435,000. With that coming off the top, the actual total for the recommended budget drops to $13,912,750.

With the new 50-50 emphasis comes an identical commitment to distribute the MBC’s overage line item (sometimes referred to as the “underspend”) that way each year. Right now this category in the budget is more than $332,000.

Wesley Hammond, pastor of First Baptist Church in Paris, was elected as the convention’s new president over David Baker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Belton, 405-269.

For the last two years, the same officers have led the convention: president, John Marshall, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Springfield, who completed five consecutive years as an officer. Now Hammond, who moves up after two years as first vice president, is the only one of those four remaining. Hammond was elected to the post

Other new officers, all unopposed, are: first vice president, Neil Franks, pastor of First Baptist Church in Branson; second vice president, Joshua Hedger, pastor of Freshwater Church in Bolivar; and recording secretary, David Krueger, pastor of First Baptist Church in Linn. All were unopposed.

The total number of MBC churches is being reduced. After one vote on Oct. 29 and another on Oct. 31 to reconsider, messengers opted to potentially remove 94 churches from the MBC by Dec. 31 due to their lack of giving through the Cooperative Program. The action comes after a constitutional change in 2008 and several years of grace. Now by a final means of certified letter, congregations will be asked to either request removal or demonstrate that they have been disbanded.

Continuing its commitment to partnership missions, the Missouri convention now will be engaged in Upstate New York and Puebla/Tlxaca, Mexico through Dec. 31, 2016, with possible extensions of up to four more years. Messengers also voted to extend the MBC’s partnership through the International Mission Board (IMB) for a fourth year with one of the groups among the IMB’s Sub-Sahara Africa Affinity Peoples. Missouri Baptists will complete their partnership with northern Illinois as of Dec. 31.

The MBC is weighing the feasibility of a historical restoration of its building in Jefferson City, acquiring a new Baptist Building or buying an existing building. More assessment is needed to determine whether to stay in a renovated building, with the possibility of capital generation being explored, or whether to sell the property. To that end, up to $35,000 from the convention’s building fund has been set aside to pay Pearce Construction of Kansas City to provide firmer cost figures and develop a comprehensive strategy to pursue renovation/restoration of the Baptist Building. A preliminary presentation of their findings could occur at the MBC Executive Board’s December meeting.

Messengers also gave Southwest Baptist University (SBU) approval on charter changes. SBU President C. Pat Taylor said several are minor, involving gender-neutral language. The other change adds a section stating that the 136 acres of property known in 2012 as the Shoffner and Stufflebaum campuses in Bolivar, which amounts to the entire SBU main campus, cannot be sold or leased without the approval of the MBC Executive Board or the convention in annual session.

Kenny Qualls, pastor of First Baptist Church in Arnold, preached the convention sermon. Eddie Bumpers, pastor of Crossway Baptist Church in Springfield, was elected to preach the 2013 convention sermon in Kansas City.

Future annual meeting sites will be Oct. 28-30, 2013, at the downtown Sheraton Hotel, Kansas City; Oct. 27-29, 2014, at Tan-Tar-A Resort, Osage Beach; and Oct. 26-28, 2015, at University Place & Expo Center, Springfield.

In other business during convention sessions at St. Louis’ Millennium Hotel, messengers:
  • chose a new convention site, St. Charles, for 2016 in approving an Oct. 24-26 annual meeting at the St. Charles Convention Center & Embassy Suites Hotel.
  • heard reports from two new Baptist leaders in the state – Anthony Allen, president of Hannibal-LaGrange University, and Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.
  • set goals for various offerings including $4 million for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions; $1.75 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions; $250,000 for World Hunger; and $700,000 for the Missouri Mission Offering.
  • were alerted to a new disaster relief headquarters, archive storage facility and alternate training center located about 13 miles from the Baptist Building in Jefferson City. This building sits on 10 acres of property and includes 14,000 square feet of warehouse space. It is intended to replace the existing DR center at Marshall.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Allen Palmeri is associate editor of The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)
12/1/2012 2:56:04 PM by Allen Palmeri, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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