December 2015

Oklahoma Baptists focus on individual evangelism

December 3 2015 by Oklahoma Baptist Messenger/Baptist Press

An emphasis of sharing the gospel was made throughout the reports, presentations and addresses at the 109th annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
With 621 registered messengers from state Baptist churches, and numerous guests, attendees were charged by the annual meeting’s theme “Connect>1” that focused on spreading the gospel through individual evangelism.
Messengers embraced an evangelism strategy for 2016 called the “3151 Challenge.” Over a six-week time frame beginning in October, each person in a Sunday School small group prays for three lost friends, learns one gospel presentation, invites five people to their small group and shares the gospel with one person.
Bob Mayfield, BGCO Sunday School specialist, and Michael Napier, BGCO evangelism specialist, both emphasized the importance of churches evangelizing through Sunday School and small groups.
“How many of you would like to baptize more people in 2016 than you baptized in 2015?” Mayfield asked. “We are excited about this. We want to see more people, just like you do, come to Jesus Christ. What would you do if you could discover a plan to engage more church members to share with more lost people, to create more gospel conversations to bring more people to Jesus?”


Photo by Bob Nigh
BGCO 2016 officers are, from left, president Hance Dilbeck, senior pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City; first vice president Richard Stillwell, pastor of First Baptist Church of Walters, and second vice president Jeff Moore, pastor of First Baptist Church of Altus.

The evangelism emphasis will be presented in LifeWay Christian Resources’ 2016 Bible Studies for Life Sunday School curriculum, Mayfield said.
During the Nov. 9-10 meeting, messengers approved the BGCO’s proposed financial plan of $24.5 million, $912,000 less than the 2015 budget of $25,412,000. Anthony Jordan, BGCO executive director-treasurer, said the financial plan is “conservative because of the slumping economy in Oklahoma.”
Messengers voted to continue allocating 40 percent of the budget, or $9,800,000, for Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries. The budget then will be divided 44 percent or $10,865,300 for the BGCO, and 16 percent or $3,834,700 for BGCO affiliated ministries (Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Baptist Village Communities and The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma).
Hance Dilbeck, pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, was elected to a second term as BGCO president. Richard Stillwell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Walters, was elected first vice president in a close race over Terrell Romberg, pastor of First Baptist Church in Cordell. Jeff Moore, pastor of First Baptist Church in Altus, was unopposed in his election as second vice president.


Addresses and reports

Dilbeck gave the presidential address based on Mark 1:14-15, titled “After John was put in prison.” Dilbeck compared the imprisonment of John the Baptist to the “overwhelming culture change” against Christian expression today, and said we should respond how Jesus responded after John was arrested.
“When John was put in prison, Jesus did not run and hide. Jesus did not raise an army. Jesus did not even go to the capitol and protest,” Dilbeck said. “Jesus stayed in Galilee and preached the gospel.”
Blake Gideon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Edmond, gave a message in support of the “Connect>1” emphasis. Preaching from I Corinthians 2:1-2, Gideon said, “The church is to be militant. And our weapon is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.... It is the hope for our country. We can’t vote our way out of the situation we’re in, but we sure can evangelize our way out of it.”
Gideon’s sermon led to a prayer time, which prompted pastors and church leaders to come to the front altar and pray for their respective churches to commit to sharing the gospel next year.
Jordan, in his annual address, bemoaned the “10,000 children in the custody of the state of Oklahoma,” issuing a challenge to pastors and churches to “step up to the task” of providing foster homes and adoptive parents for those children.
“Oklahoma Baptists can make a difference,” Jordan stressed, as he announced an initiative to provide 500 foster care homes through a joint effort with Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. “We will be in the middle of this, and the loudest voice will be mine,” said Jordan, who along with his wife Polla, raised two adopted children.
Jordan also emphasized the need to take the gospel to Native Americans, Hispanics who comprise the second-largest population segment in the state, and 200,000 college students in the state.
Sam Dyer, pastor of First Baptist Church in Heavener, delivered the BGCO annual sermon. His sermon also led to a time of prayer, as he asked pastors to come forward to pray for lost people at the altar.
In a brief BGCO Conference Center report, Falls Creek program director Andy Harrison emphasized the professions of faith and other spiritual decisions made, in spite of the summer schedule that was affected by a major flood in June. CrossTimbers program director Glenn Barber highlighted salvation stories, as well as record-breaking attendance numbers for the camp’s summer weeks.
Jason Langley, BGCO Conference Centers director, spoke of the response from BGCO staff and disaster relief volunteers in getting both Falls Creek and CrossTimbers Children’s Mission Adventure Camp back in working order in time to observe remaining summer camp weeks. The conference centers, Langley said, are on track to host nearly 90,000 people in 2015.
A meeting highlight was the announcement of BGCO’s commitment to partner with mission leaders in the country of Latvia. Peteris Sprogis of the Latvian Baptist Union and Jordan signed a formal written agreement to a three-year commitment of Oklahoma Baptists serving in Latvia.
Sam Porter, BGCO Partnership Missions specialist, led a report on BGCO continuing its partnership with the Guerrero Baptist Convention in Mexico. Mark McClellan, dean of the Robert Haskins School of Leadership and evangelism specialist, translated for Luis Gomez, executive director of the Guerrero Baptist Convention, who shared they well surpassed their goal of church plants, which was to have 25 churches by 2010 and 15 more by 2015. Currently, there are more than 50 churches in Guerrero.
Other reports focused on disaster relief, the Baptist Village Communities, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, the GoStudents mobilization group, The Baptist Foundation, Oklahoma Baptist University, church history, distinguished service awards, the Baptist Messenger, the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, the Cooperative Program and church planting.


Messengers approved six resolutions, including ones on current social and church subjects.
“The resolutions committee prayerfully worked through various important topics in the culture and the church today, and we came forth with what we believe were strong statements about our convictions,” said Jeremy Freeman, chairman of the 2015 Resolutions Committee.
In addition to a resolution of appreciation to the 2015 annual meeting host church, messengers approved a resolution promoting religious liberty, affirming human life and opposing Planned Parenthood, affirming marriage and marital faithfulness, renewing a commitment to personal evangelism and baptisms, and encouraging civic involvement.
In opposing Planned Parenthood, messengers called on “policymakers to redirect taxpayer funds away from Planned Parenthood toward more reputable medical providers of women’s health.”
In the resolution promoting religious liberty, messengers called on President Barack Obama and all world leaders to promote and actively defend religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all people.
The BGCO’s 110th annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 14-15, 2016, at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the staff of the Baptist Messenger  at, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Reports compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

12/3/2015 12:06:22 PM by Oklahoma Baptist Messenger/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

CP 2.35% over budget projection through first 2 months

December 3 2015 by Baptist Press

Contributions to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries received by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee through the first two months of the fiscal year were 2.35 percent above the projected budget goal and 0.46 percent below last year’s year-to-date gifts, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Frank S. Page.
November’s receipts of $15,764,689.37 were slightly less than the $15,940,178.11 received in November 2014. The year-to-date total of $31,813,129.29 was $729,795.96 above the $31,083,333.33 YTD allocation budget projection to support Southern Baptist ministries, and $146,229.67 below the $31,959,358.96 received through November 2014.
The Cooperative Program (CP) is Southern Baptists channel of giving, begun in 1925, through which a local church can contribute to the ministries of its state convention and the missions and ministries of the SBC with a single monthly or weekly contribution. Monies include receipts from individuals, churches, state conventions and fellowships for distribution according to the 2015-2016 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
The convention-adopted budget for 2015-2016 is as follows: 50.41 percent to international missions through the International Mission Board, 22.79 percent to North American missions through the North American Mission Board, 22.16 percent to theological education, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget and 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Meanwhile, year-to-date designated giving of $7,225,651.09 was 1.23 percent, or $89,780.65, below gifts of $7,315,431.74 received through November 2014. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities.
Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief and other special gifts. November’s designated gifts totaled $3,828,891.46.
State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.
Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, including the timing of when the state conventions forward the national portion of CP contributions to the Executive Committee, the day of the month churches forward their CP contributions to their state conventions, the number of Sundays in a given month, and the percentage of CP contributions forwarded to the SBC by the state conventions after shared ministry expenses are deducted.

12/3/2015 12:02:21 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

IMB notes ways to support returning missionaries

December 2 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

With the International Mission Board (IMB) expecting hundreds of missionaries to leave their positions in the coming months, the board has published a list of ways individuals and churches can support field personnel returning to the U.S.
According to a Q&A posted on the IMB website and updated Nov. 18, at least 600 field personnel and stateside staff members are expected to resign as a result of a voluntary retirement incentive (VRI) offered to all personnel 50 and older with five or more years of service and a subsequent “hand-raising opportunity” for all remaining personnel to indicate a call from God to pursue non-IMB ministry opportunities.
An undated document titled “Ways to Support Your Field Personnel as they Return to the U.S.” recommends that churches form “re-entry teams” to assist returning missionaries with practical services, friendship and prayer. Among the IMB’s suggestions:

  • Let returning missionaries talk about their experiences. “Perhaps you could interview them during a worship service, invite them to lead a prayer time or share during Life Group or Sunday School times,” the document states.

  • Be sensitive to culture shock as missionaries re-adjust to life in America. “Reconciling differences in the cultures, such as the materialism of the West as opposed to the poverty and suffering of developing cultures, can create stress,” according to the document.

  • Give missionaries some breathing room while not neglecting to stay in touch with them. Guard against overwhelming them when they first arrive, then disappearing.

  • Help them network with associational and state missions leaders who can connect them with ministry opportunities that fit their gifts and talents. Churches should also be prepared to recommend returning missionaries for ministry opportunities that suit them.

  • Contact the IMB Member Care team at 804-620-3371 if returning missionaries seem to have needs that may necessitate professional direction and counsel.

  • Be patient, recognizing that “anyone who has served cross-culturally needs time to adjust.”

Among other budget information noted in the Nov. 18 Q&A update:

  • The one-time payout to personnel who accept the VRI is estimated at $23.1 million. In a November 2015 letter to trustees posted on the IMB website, President David Platt said that projection is based on the assumption 600-800 individuals will accept the retirement incentive.

No official total of personnel to accept the VRI will be available before Dec. 11, the date after which individuals accepting the incentive cannot rescind their decisions.

  • Personnel resigning as a result of the VRI are expected to save the IMB $38.6 million in 2016. Factoring in the one-time payout, net savings are estimated at $15.5 million for 2016.

  • A projected 2016 budget deficit of $22.58 million “is explained by one-time VRI costs” and will be covered from reserve funds.

  • Proceeds from property sales were not factored into the 2016 budget. Any such proceeds “will be used to replenish and stabilize the organization’s reserves.” The IMB estimated its total 2015 financial reserves at $168 million, according to the 2015 CP ministry report it submitted to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee.

  • For 2016, the IMB has projected Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) receipts “based on a historical projection of the past four years.”

In the past, the IMB has projected Lottie Moon receipts equivalent to the previous year’s offering goal, which at times has been higher than the amount received. For example, the 2015 SBC Annual listed 2015 and 2016 Lottie Moon income projections at $175 million each – even though the 2014 offering totaled just over $153 million and the 2013 offering totaled just over $154 million.
Platt told trustees in his letter that projecting Lottie Moon income based on past receipts was a “key factor” in the 2016 budget.
“We have decided to project LMCO giving based on an historical projection of the past 4 years of LMCO giving rather than setting it equal to our stretch goal,” Platt wrote. “We believe this better aligns our budgeted expenses with expected giving, while still leaving open the possibility that our actual LMCO giving may be much higher. We have estimated LMCO giving of $151.8 million [for 2016], which is $23.2 million below our 2015 goal of $175 million.”
The 2016 IMB operating budget of $278,755,000 approved by trustees during their Nov. 5-6 meeting in New Orleans appeared to have been adjusted down by some $26 million from the 2016 ministry costs estimated in the 2015 SBC Annual.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

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12/2/2015 11:41:01 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Historic First Baptist Church building condemned

December 2 2015 by Scott Barkley, The Christian Index

A church building in Augusta, Ga., with ties to the birth of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has been condemned by city officials.
The structure, located at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Greene Street, served as the home for First Baptist Church in Augusta from 1902 until the 1970s, according to WAGT 26. Following up on reports that homeless individuals were sleeping on its front porch, a city inspector noticed plaster falling from the ceiling in the sanctuary and a small prayer group meeting in a room heated by a propane burner, a code violation.
The building is not the one where the SBC was founded, pointed out Georgia Baptist Convention archivist Charles Jones, though the previous building was on the same location. FBC Augusta relocated to the western side of the city in the 1970s, with its old building being sold into private ownership and eventually becoming an independent, non-accredited Bible institute.


The congregation is no longer affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
“First Baptist’s founder was W.T. Brantley, who later became pastor of First Baptist Church in Philadelphia and purchased The Index from Luther Rice and sold it to Jesse Mercer in 1833,” he stated of the congregation’s importance in the history of Southern and Georgia Baptists.
Jones also noted Lancing Burrows, a pastor in the 1890s who was instrumental in establishing the Baptist Young People’s Union into SBC life. “This was later renamed Training Union, then Church Training before becoming Discipleship Training. In that time many viewed it with great skepticism [but] it was foundational to the development of Baptist leadership in the 20th century. Next to Sunday School it’s been the most important educational development in Baptist life.”
Another early pastor at FBC Augusta was Joseph G. Binney, Jones said. A native of Boston, Mass., Binney had served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Savannah before going to Burma as a missionary. He returned to the states due to his wife’s health and became FBC Augusta’s pastor, but later went back to Burma. Before doing so, however, he was instrumental in establishing a college in Richmond, Va., for the training of African-American pastors after the Civil War.
“The first language work beyond Indian missions in Georgia was a Chinese Sunday School class at First Baptist – a class that still exists,” Jones noted. “It had been targeted to Chinese immigrants and their descendants who, after the completion of the Continental Railroad, were brought to Augusta in the 1870s to help widen the Augusta Canal.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Scott Barkley is production editor of The Christian Index, the newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.)

12/2/2015 11:37:17 AM by Scott Barkley, The Christian Index | with 0 comments

Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network celebrates 180th year

December 2 2015 by Sharon Mager, Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network

Nearly 500 messengers and guests representing 165 churches gathered for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network’s 180th celebration Nov. 8-10 in Ocean City, Md.
Messengers welcomed a new interim executive director, received a report on the status of the executive director search, and approved a budget that includes a new strategic partnership with the North American Mission Board and a 1 percent increase of receipts forwarded to the Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program (CP) missions and ministries.
In a year of transition, the theme of the meeting was “Loving Our Neighbors,” with an emphasis on being one in Christ and reaching out to share the gospel with a lost and dying world.  

Network catalyst Reid Sterrett, who served as master of ceremonies for the three-day meeting, announced a recent transition in interim leadership for the Network (also known as the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware).
Rick Hancock, who recently became director of missions for the Mid-Maryland Baptist Association, is serving as the interim Network executive director as Tom Stolle is stepping down from the role. Stolle was serving in the interim role and as chief financial officer following the resignation of Will McRaney in June.


Facebook photo
Ed Litton, pastor of First Baptist North Mobile, Ala., speaks at the 2015 annual celebration of the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network.


Victor Kirk, pastor of Sharon Bible Fellowship Church in Lanham, chairperson of the executive director search committee, reported that the application process closed on Oct. 15, fielding seven candidates for the position. “We are in the process of interviewing, researching and vetting [the candidates],” Kirk said.
Messengers approved a $7.9 million budget, which includes Cooperative Program receipts of $3.875 million as well as increased church planting funds as a result of a new strategic partnership with NAMB.
General Mission Board President Mark Dooley said the budget covers some “extremely exciting” new initiatives supported by the State Missions Offering and additional budgeted funds, including church revitalization and new strategically-targeted African American, Jewish and Muslim church planting as well as planting churches for families with special needs.
Dooley, senior pastor of Leonardtown (Md.) Baptist Church, noted that the 2016 spending plan includes a 1 percentage point increase in the convention’s Cooperative Program giving for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) causes. In 2015, 41.5 percent of CP receipts were forwarded to the SBC for national and international missions and ministries rather than being kept “home,” he said, explaining that, though CP receipts have not been increasing, the General Mission Board recommended taking a step of faith to increase the CP giving to 42.5 percent, with an eventual goal of reaching a 51-49 percent allocation, sending more than keeping.
“To do that requires all of our churches to make a commitment to CP as our primary funding mechanism,” Dooley said. “While increasing our 1 percent won’t keep missionaries on the field, it’s a step in the right direction.”
Messengers re-elected Bill Warren, pastor of Allen Memorial Baptist Church in Salisbury, Md., as Network president. Curtis Hill, pastor of Ogletown Baptist Church in Newark, Del., was elected as first vice president and Keith Myer, pastor of Harvest Baptist Church in Salisbury, as second vice president. David Gaines, pastor of Manna Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore, was reelected as recording secretary and his wife Tracey will serve as assistant recording secretary.
Messengers and guests gave $2,165.01 to the annual offering, designated this year for ministry to international students in Ocean City.
Kicking off the annual meeting, Bill Warren told messengers, “I can think of no better way to call this meeting to order than through prayer.” He led a time of “worship-based” prayer, using Jesus’ priestly prayer in John 17 “that all may be one.”
“You prayed that we would be one even as You and the Father are one,” Warren prayed. “That’s impossible for us, Lord God ... for You and the Father are one in a way that we can’t even imagine, and we can’t achieve, but You prayed for it, You asked for it, therefore it must be possible for You. So we ask Lord Jesus that You would make us one as You and the Father are one.”
Warren also led an hour-long, scripture-based prayer time prior to the second day of the celebration events at the Clarion Fontainebleau Resort Hotel in Ocean City.
Tom Stolle recognized new pastors and staff members, and thanked executive office coordinator Donna Jefferys for her management of the celebration’s logistics. He also recognized directors of missions and called them on stage one by one.
Guest speaker Steve Davis, East Region vice president with the North American Mission Board, introduced NAMB’s new logo and message – to equip “every person in the pew to take the next step in missional engagement.” “We want to help you make that next missional step,” he said.
Referring to the celebration’s theme, “Loving Our Neighbors,” Davis said, “If we don’t start there, we’re not going to reach North America with the Gospel.”
Dennis Kim, pastor of Global Mission Church in Silver Spring, Md., in a message on the meeting’s theme, said the Old Testament patriarch Joseph was an “outstanding example” of loving one’s neighbors, especially when neighbors are unloving. Joseph endured hardships and setbacks in order to fulfill his God-given dreams, Kim said. “We must be faithful carrying out our God-given mission. We must be faithful in loving our neighbors,” he said.
Network director of missions Michael Crawford preached, “God has strategically put us in the generation of Caitlyn Jenners ... where autism is on the rise, when the city of Baltimore is burning, and the people are killing each other. We are the generation that must own Ferguson ... that serves under President Obama ... that answers the cries of North Korea, because we were born for ‘such a time as this,’ and we’re going to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission.”
Warren, in his president’s address, asked, “What are you afraid of?” The typical top 10 fears, he said, include public speaking, heights, spiders and darkness.
“These are dark times for some of you and you are afraid it will not get any better.... God never leaves His people on a cross. There is always a resurrection,” Warren said.
Ed Litton, pastor of Redemption Church in North Mobile, Ala., said Christians live in a day of pluralism and secularism. “How shall we now live? Do we embrace the culture or withdraw?” Litton said God calls His people to fearlessly love the city where He has placed them because God loves those cities.
Special guest Christopher Duffley and his mother Christine of Vision of Hope based in Manchester, N.H., shared their testimonies and led a time of worship. Blind and autistic, 14-year-old Christopher is a nationally known speaker and singer. Christine, his then-aunt, visited Christopher as a baby when he was in foster care suffering from double pneumonia. She and her husband Stephen prayed, brought Christopher home and eventually adopted him as their son.
Christopher flourished in the love he found in his new home but as he grew he struggled to communicate, yet he responded to music and could sing. His parents especially encouraged him to sing, “Open the Eyes of My Heart.” “They wanted me to know that God loved me and He lived in my heart and that I could see Him through my heart,” Christopher said before singing the song.
Drew Worsham, a Christian illusionist and campus pastor at Resonate Church in Pullman, Wash., brought a time of laughter and amazement as he performed such illusions as “guessing” cards people picked from a card deck.
“I’m not a guy who doesn’t understand the ‘trenches,’” said Worsham, who uses his illusionist performances to share the gospel and encourage others in ministry. “I love and have a heartbeat for missions and church planting,” he said, encouraging the audience to lead their lost culture by loving their neighbors. Often, it starts with a conversation, he said.
Bill Warren closed the celebration in prayer, “We leave today as one. Keep us that way for Your glory.”
The Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network’s 2016 celebration is scheduled for Nov 13-15 at Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel in Towson.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sharon Mager is communications specialist with the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network.)

12/2/2015 11:32:04 AM by Sharon Mager, Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network | with 0 comments

2000 BF&M slated for Mississippi Baptists’ 2016 meeting

December 2 2015 by William H. Perkins Jr., Mississippi Baptist Record

Messengers to the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s (MBC) 2015 annual meeting heard the first reading of a proposed constitutional amendment relating to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message to be voted on at the convention’s 2016 annual meeting.
Messengers also elected a new president and approved a 2016 Cooperative Program budget of over $31.5 million.
A total of 882 messengers registered for MBC’s Oct. 27-28 annual meeting, a slight decline from the 896 messengers who registered for the 2014 annual meeting traditionally held at First Baptist Church in Jackson.


Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.
Mississippi Baptist Convention officers elected by messengers to the 2015 annual meeting of the convention Oct. 27-28 at First Church, Jackson, include (from left) Gary Wyatt, pastor of North Morton Church, Morton, first vice-president; Doug Broome, senior pastor of First Church, Natchez, president; Larry Young, pastor of Spangle Banner Church, Pace, second vice president; and Jerry Bingham, missions director for Benton-Tippah Association in Ripley, associate recording secretary. Not pictured is Michael Weeks, pastor of Pleasant Hill Church, Olive Branch, recording secretary.

The proposed amendment to the MBC constitution, put forward by the convention’s Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, reads, “Article III, Doctrinal Guidelines. The doctrinal guidelines for the Mississippi Baptist Convention shall be The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.”
According to Section VII of the MBC constitution, proposed amendments must the given at the annual meeting of the convention of the immediately preceding year, published in the MBC Annual and The Baptist Record, and then voted on by messengers at the annual meeting the following year. Thus, the proposed amendment will be voted on by messengers to the 2016 annual meeting.
Doug Broome, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Natchez, was elected without opposition to his first term as MBC president. He replaces Matt Buckles, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Vicksburg, who served two terms as president and was not eligible for reelection. Broome, who has served on a number of MBC committees, is chairman of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board’s Executive Committee.
Reelected without opposition to second terms were first vice president Gary Wyatt, pastor of North Morton Baptist Church, and second vice president Larry Young, pastor of Spangle Banner Missionary Baptist Church in Pace. Young’s election as second vice president last year marked the first time in MBC history that an African American has held a convention-wide office.
Also reelected without opposition were recording secretary Michael Weeks, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Olive Branch, and assistant recording secretary Jerry Bingham, missions director for Benton-Tippah Baptist Association in Ripley. The two positions are not term-limited.
Messengers adopted a 2016 Cooperative Program budget of $31,522,005, an increase of $237,438 (.76 percent) over the 2015 budget. Support for Southern Baptist Convention causes such as the mission boards and theological education will total $11,741,947, an increase of $166,657 (1.44 percent), representing 37.25 percent of the total 2016 Cooperative Program budget, up from 37 percent last year. The budget does not include any shared expenses with the SBC.
The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ unified plan of giving through which cooperating Southern Baptist churches give a percentage of their undesignated receipts in support of their respective state convention and the Southern Baptist Convention’s missions and ministries.


Two resolutions were approved by messengers.
A “Resolution on Bold Biblical Living,” proposed by Carl White, senior pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Meridian, stated, “[We] recognize that the restoration of Biblical values in the home, in our churches and in society will only come about by our total submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives, in our homes and in our churches.”
A “Resolution of Appreciation” offered thanks to staff and members of First Baptist Church in Jackson for hosting the meeting, along with appreciation for the speakers, singers, instrumentalists, outgoing MBC President Matt Buckles and others “who have served this Convention faithfully.”
David Eldridge, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Clinton, preached the convention sermon. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, was the keynote speaker for the annual meeting’s closing session. Waylon Bailey, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington, La., provided the Bible Treasures series of devotionals.
The MBC’s Time, Place, and Preacher Committee announced that Larry LeBlanc, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Summit, will preach the 2016 convention sermon, with Smokey Gibson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Biloxi, as the alternate.
The 2016 MBC annual meeting will be Nov. 1-2 at First Baptist in Jackson.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – William H. Perkins Jr. is editor of The Baptist Record, newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.)

12/2/2015 11:26:38 AM by William H. Perkins Jr., Mississippi Baptist Record | with 0 comments

Illinois Baptists commit to 5 evangelism challenges

December 2 2015 by Eric Reed & Meredith Flynn, Illinois Baptist

The theme song for the evangelistic focus of the Illinois Baptist State Association’s (IBSA) 109th annual meeting left messengers with fresh words for prayer:
Heal our streets and land,
Show your mighty hand;
Win this nation back…
Build Your kingdom here!
(“Build Your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective, ©2011, Thankyou Music)
Messengers were invited to commit to gospel outreach in their own mission fields by placing a pin on a giant map of Illinois and investing in one or more of five commitments for Kingdom growth during the Nov. 11-12 meeting at First Baptist Church in Marion.


Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association, sets forth five evangelism commitments to messengers during the IBSA’s Nov. 11-12 annual meeting at First Baptist Church in Marion.


“Unhealthy churches are filled with people who know about God, but they don’t know God,” IBSA President Odis Weaver said in his address. “If the Kingdom of God is going to advance in Illinois, or anywhere, we’ve got to move beyond knowing about God to knowing God, and living that.”
Weaver, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Plainfield, urged church leaders to repent of complacency. “We have too often allowed our churches to become merely places of comfort and rest, rather than being fortresses against the darkness,” he said.
Executive Director Nate Adams noted in his report that IBSA has narrowed its focus from 12 goals to 4 over a two-year period: develop leaders, inspire cooperation, stimulate church health and growth, and catalyze evangelistic church planting and missions.
“We are seeking to focus less on goals that simply measure IBSA staff activities and more on goals that indicate true, positive results in churches,” Adams said. He charted positive results in most areas, and noted in particular that new church plants are up from 10 last year to 22 or more by year’s end.
Of concern is last year’s report that baptisms were down by about 500. The current totals are not yet available from 2014-15 Annual Church Profile reports but the previous figures prompted the focus on commitments that produce baptisms.


Building blocks

The annual Wednesday evening worship service was devoted to five evangelism commitments, each represented by a large Lego-style block on the stage: Expanded VBS, Witness Training, Outreach Events, New Groups and Evangelistic Prayer.
“The problem is not that we don’t know what to do, the problem is that we’re not doing it,” Adams said. After he introduced each block, an Illinois pastor told how his church had seen God work through that specific ministry.


Officers elected at the Illinois Baptist State Association’s 109th annual meeting are (left to right) president, Kevin Carrothers, pastor of Rochester First Baptist Church; vice president, Adron Rogers, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in suburban Chicago; assistant recording secretary, Teresa Ebert of Temple Baptist Church in Canton; and recording secretary, Patty Hulskotter of Living Faith Baptist Church in Sherman.

Roger Teal, pastor of Grace Baptist Fellowship in Benton, recounted, for example, how his church was called to pray for the salvation of lost people as it began a relocation project. Claiming the passages in Ezra 3 where the Israelites built an altar for a place of worship before the actual temple was completed, he decided, “We’re going to do that.”
So the congregation cut down a tree, went to the exact spot where the Lord’s Supper table would sit in their new building, and “started writing names down of people they knew they wanted to see come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior,” Teal said.
Although the building is still not complete, the altar area is finished. The names written on it are seen every Sunday as people walk past. A young man named Garrett, whose name is written there, came to know Christ and was baptized by his grandfather. Garrett has since answered a call to ministry.
When someone at Grace Church comes to know the Lord, his or her name gets circled. With three so far, Teal said they have a lot more to go. “But, we’ve got three names that are circled.”
At the end of the commitment service, Adams asked attendees to consider which of the five ministry challenges they’ll take up in the coming year. He invited them to walk down the aisle and place a commitment card near a large map of Illinois, and then to use a post-it note with a large Mapquest-style pinpoint to indicate a location in the state, perhaps their own community, where they are praying God will build His Kingdom.
As the service concluded and people slowly made their way out of the sanctuary, the map remained as a reminder of that prayer.


Missions giving

Messengers approved a 2016 budget with an anticipated Cooperative Program (CP) commitment of $6.3 million. The ratio for distributing CP dollars remains at 56.75 percent for work in Illinois and 43.25 percent for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) international and North American missions and ministry.
William Townes, vice president for convention finance with the SBC Executive Committee, reported that 107 IBSA churches had taken the “1% CP Challenge,” raising their Cooperative Program giving by an additional 1 percentage point of their undesignated offerings, and that 15 of those churches had done so for a second year in a row. While CP giving in Illinois is down about 1 percent year to date, nationally the trend appears to have turned and CP giving is notching upward.
Messengers adopted five resolutions, including a call for “prayers, support, and advocacy” for Christians suffering persecution in various parts of the world. In a “Watchmen” resolution, messengers urged pastors “to preach the whole counsel of God, invite people to Jesus, and declare Biblical truth concerning the burning moral issues that are being debated in the culture and government.” And in a resolution on “Public Legal Protection for Pastors and Churches in Light of the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Same Sex Marriage,” messengers underscored the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. Sandy Barnard was honored for 30 years of IBSA service; Barnard currently serves as executive assistant in the executive director’s office. The fifth resolution voiced appreciation to First Baptist Church in Marion for hosting the annual meeting; the church is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Resolutions are available in their entirety at
In addition, an offering of $2799.36 was designated to assist International Mission Board personnel returning from the field due to IMB’s staff reduction.
Odis Weaver completed his second one-year term as president and was succeeded by vice president Kevin Carrothers, pastor of Rochester First Baptist Church. Also elected: vice president, Adron Robinson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Country Club Hills; recording secretary, Patty Hulskotter of Living Faith Baptist Church in Sherman; and assistant recording secretary, Teresa Ebert of Temple Baptist Church in Canton.
The IBSA annual meeting was attended by 504 registered messengers and 72 visitors, representing 215 churches.
The 2016 IBSA annual meeting will be Nov. 2-3 at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in metro Chicago.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Eric Reed is associate executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association and editor of the Illinois Baptist newsjournal; Meredith Flynn is the managing editor of the Illinois Baptist. With additional reporting by Lisa Sergent and Morgan Jackson.)

12/2/2015 11:16:56 AM by Eric Reed & Meredith Flynn, Illinois Baptist | with 0 comments

Panel urges engagement, response to sexual brokenness

December 1 2015 by Liz Tablazon, BR Writer

Calvary Baptist Church of Winston-Salem kicked off a month-long sermon series on the theology of sex with a forum on Nov. 8, featuring R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of recently released We Cannot Be Silent; Daniel Heimbach, senior professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Gary Chapman, senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church and author of The Five Love Languages. Calvary’s senior pastor, Rob Peters, moderated the discussion.
The forum, along with the sermon series titled “The Theology of Sex: Creation, Fall, Redemption,” was intended to equip Christians to effectively respond to sexual brokenness in today’s world. In light of the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision to legalize same-sex marriage, the growing acceptance of polygamy and relative gender identity, the speakers stressed the importance of the topic.
Heimbach emphasized that redefining right and wrong in terms of sexuality, while not an unforgivable sin, redefines everything about God, reality and moral judgment.
“We believe the one true and living God who created us has revealed this to us, and that means it’s for His glory and for our good,” Mohler said. “We’re not saying these things to win an argument. We’re speaking and defending these truths because we believe they make an eternal difference.”


Calvary photo
“Once you buy into the fact that there’s no objective morality, then everything’s negotiable. And in a world in which everything’s negotiable, everybody’s in danger,” Al Mohler said.

Chapman suggested that many social ills are the effects of the breakdown of marriage and family and the departure of biblical values. He referred to several statistics: only four out of 10 children in the United States grow up with both biological parents, and 43 percent grow up without a father. According to Chapman, the church must invest in families and marriages to help decrease the rate of high school dropouts, abuse and crime.
The rapidly increasing pace of the moral revolution in America stems from people choosing to worship themselves over God, the panelists said.
Heimbach quoted the theologian Francis Schaeffer, who explained there is a hunger in the human heart for spirituality, and people eventually will not tolerate the denial of free will, love or personal responsibility. “People will demand to fill that void,” Heimbach said. “When that happens, there’s gonna be only two ways to go: you go the biblical way, which is to submit to God’s authority … or you affirm it the pagan way. You make yourself God.”
Chapman explained that people either worship the God of the Bible or the god of happiness. Mohler defined a moral revolution as a shift in perspective made by moral authorities, including movie producers, courts and those who license professions and award scholarships. The church is the only counter-balance to the revolution, said Mohler. This puts it in a position in which it appears to be the villain in society, to which Heimbach offered an explanation.
“Those who are driving this agenda do not want to have any opposition by anybody at all. … It’s not about tolerance; it’s not about being nice to people you disagree with. It’s about destroying or at least silencing any reminder that what you’re doing is not right,” he said. “We’re dealing with religious war. There isn’t a willingness on the other side to allow a space for people to disagree. The church is the only engine of those who disagree.”
Peters asked the panelists about one of the biggest concerns church members have: What other moral issues will become the cultural norm? As long as people can give authentic consent, issues that are morally questioned will inevitably become accepted, Mohler responded. He gave the example of current efforts to lower the criteria and age of consent.
“Once you buy into the fact that there’s no objective morality, then everything’s negotiable. And in a world in which everything’s negotiable, everybody’s in danger,” said Mohler.
Heimbach warned of the significance of legalizing same-sex marriage being much larger than people may think. The activism which was driven by an argument for equality is not actually a matter of equality, but an act of redefining the most essential social institution in human relationships, he said. He described a social institution as something requiring objective structure, and as something measurable that does not chang.
“It’s not something about affirming the way people feel,” he said. “How they’re attracted may be a motive for getting married or not married, but it doesn’t define what the marriage is.”
Heimbach later clarified the misconception that people with same-sex attraction are different sinners. Nobody has normal sexual desires, he said, because the fallen nature creates deceptive desires of the flesh that do not meet God’s standards.
“We need to submit to the authority of God – something above our flesh – to align what our desires should be. All of us need to learn to control our desires within boundaries that God sets, not by our feelings.”
Mohler added that people cannot battle sin on their own. “We are united with Christ … and Christ is not united to sin,” he said. “Christ is victorious over sin in a way we cannot be, but we can be in Him.”
All three panelists urged parents to talk about issues of sexuality at home in ways appropriate to boys and girls of different ages. Chapman suggested utilizing resources such as The Story of Me, a children’s book published by NavPress that explains how God designed the body. Making the discussion about sex a normal and natural conversation at home will help children trust their parents in this area. He encouraged parents to affirm their love to children who may open up about sexual sin, but to acknowledge that forgiveness does not remove consequences.
The speakers addressed other questions, including whether to attend same-sex weddings and how to minister to same-sex couples in the church. They called Christians to live out their witness primarily by living out the beauty and joy of marriage, which will stand out in a world of broken relationships.
Mohler noted the church’s apathy regarding no-fault divorce and its failure to hold members accountable to their marital covenants.
“Part of what makes marriage beautiful is that it lasts in good times and in bad,” he said. “The real beauty of marriage is it pictures the union of Christ and his church. The church, united with Christ, can go through trial and persecution and martyrdom, but that union cannot be broken.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Liz Tablazon is the head of circulation and social media.)

12/1/2015 1:18:45 PM by Liz Tablazon, BR Writer | with 0 comments

Pro-life leaders decry shootings at abortion clinic

December 1 2015 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Pro-life leaders condemned the deadly shooting spree at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., while expressing grief and concern for the victims and their survivors.
The uniform opposition by leading pro-life advocates came in response to the shooting deaths of three people and injuries to nine others Nov. 27. Robert Lewis Dear Jr., 57, surrendered to police at the clinic after a five-hour standoff.
Killed at the clinic were Garrett Swasey, 44, a police officer, father of two children and elder at an evangelical church; Jennifer Markovsky, 35, a stay-at-home mother of two; and Ke’Arre Stewart 29, an Iraq War veteran and father of two. Swasey responded in the line of duty, and Markovsky and Steward had accompanied friends to the clinic, The Denver Post reported.


CNN screen grab

None of the 15 clinic workers at the scene during the shooting spree were harmed, Planned Parenthood officials said, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette.
While law enforcement authorities refused to comment on Dear’s motive, four words attributed to him by news media prompted Planned Parenthood to charge opposition to abortion provoked the violence. Dear’s remarks to police after surrendering included “no more baby parts,” according to multiple news outlets, but authorities would not confirm he made such a statement, The Gazette reported.
Baptist leaders and others with the country’s top pro-life organizations decried the violence and rejected any notion Dear acted as a pro-lifer.
Mike Routt, a Colorado Springs pastor and president of the state’s Baptist convention, condemned the violence as a “senseless act of violence in which three of our citizens were killed.”
“Three families have been devastated and our city traumatized. I – and our state convention – are strongly in support of the pro-life position. But we denounce any act of hate,” said Routt, pastor of Circle Drive Baptist Church and chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, in written comments to Baptist Press. “Peaceful dissent and the political process are the correct methods of articulating our convictions. Violence has absolutely no place in this public debate. In spite of this tragedy, I – we (Colorado Baptists) – will continue our efforts to support life for all – including the unborn.”
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, noted, “Vigilante violence against abortion clinics is not the way that Christians are called to stand for justice.”
“The cause of the unborn is always severely undermined by murderous acts of vengeance,” Moore said. “Christians should be clear in calling for full justice for this shooter at the same time we call for justice and reform on behalf of unborn children. We overcome evil with good, not with more evil.”
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, said in a written statement, “We are heartbroken for the families grieving the loss of their loved ones, especially during this time that is supposed to be one of national Thanksgiving and family celebration. We categorically condemn this violence. While we don’t know all the details of this horrific event, we know that it was an evil act, one condemned by pro-life Americans nationwide.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said the shooter’s actions run counter to the pro-life movement and only further “this Culture of Death that we live in.”
“In the pro-life movement we know that the violence of abortion can never and will never be ended with more violence,” she wrote in an email to supporters. “And even if the madman murderer in Colorado is proven to have entered the Planned Parenthood facility with intent, he wasn’t pro-life.”
Kelly Rosati, who lives in Colorado Springs and is the vice president of community outreach for Focus on the Family, said in a guest post at Christianity Today Online, “In the wake of the tragedy, it is encouraging to see leaders of the pro-life community continue to make it clear that there is no room and no place for violence in our movement. Nothing could be less pro-life than violence and the taking of human life. Not only is it wrong and despicable, it destroys everything the pro-life movement is about – valuing the dignity and sanctity of each human life.”
Dear was not known to pro-lifers who gather for prayer outside the Planned Parenthood clinic two days a week, a participant in the peaceful actions told The Gazette.
The “no more baby parts” comment attributed to Dear, if true, would appear to be connected to recent revelations of Planned Parenthood’s trade in baby body parts. Undercover videos released the last five months by the Center for Medical Progress have shown various Planned Parenthood officials in different locations discussing the sale of organs from aborted children. The videos include acknowledgements by Planned Parenthood employees of their willingness to manipulate the abortion procedure to preserve body parts for sale and use.
Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said the shooting “was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion.”
In a written statement, Cowart described “an alarming increase in hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns against abortion providers and patients over the last few months. That environment breeds act of violence.”
Dawn Laugens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), said in a written release, “One of the lessons of this awful tragedy is that words matter, and hateful rhetoric fuels violence.”
Reports of the “no more body parts” remark by Dear credited unidentified police sources, but The Gazette reported it could not independently confirm it. That comment was one of many topics Dear alluded to, but it was uncertain what part it played in his actions, NBC News reported, according to The Gazette.
The U.S. Senate may vote in the next few days on what is known as a reconciliation bill that would cut funds for PPFA in the wake of information on the undercover videos. The House of Representatives already has approved the legislation, which reportedly would strip PPFA of about $400 million of its nearly $530 million annual take in government grants, contracts and reimbursements.
PPFA and its affiliates received more than $528 million in government grants, contracts and reimbursements, according to its latest financial report (2013-14). Planned Parenthood affiliates performed more than 327,000 abortions during 2013, making it the largest abortion provider in the country.
Swasey, a six-year veteran of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police force, responded to the shootings in support of Colorado Springs officers. He was one of four elders at Hope Chapel, overseeing the church’s care groups and serving as part of its team of teachers.
Hope Chapel’s website contains the following message to Swasey on its home page: “You have blessed us for many years with your joy and love for the Gospel. As our dear friend and shepherd of the flock, with sorrow we say goodbye only to rejoice in heaven’s gain. Your life will live on in our hearts and your example has set the course for us to follow in the years to come.”
In a written statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said Swasey “embodies the spirit of the pro-life movement in this tragedy. He may not have agreed with Planned Parenthood, but Officer Swasey charged headfirst into danger to protect lives inside their clinic. He believed, as we do, that all lives are equally valuable and worthy of protection.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

12/1/2015 1:10:27 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Disciple-making conference to help attendees ‘reveal’ gospel

December 1 2015 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

As Paul and Silas established the church at Thessalonica, they not only imparted the truths of the gospel with the people there, but they invested their lives in those individuals to help them grow to maturity in Christ.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul writes, “So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”
Paul and Silas’ ancient example provides a modern model for believers in the disciple-making process. And 1 Thessalonians 2:8 is the theme verse for the 2016 Disciple-making Conference, which is titled “Reveal” and scheduled for Feb. 29 at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro.


IMB photo by Will Stuart

“Revealing the gospel involves not just a verbal witness, though that’s essential, but it also involves the sharing of your life,” said Brian Upshaw, who leads the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Disciple-making Team. “Disciple-making involves both things.”
This year’s conference includes an exciting lineup of speakers who will address both the practical and spiritual aspects of disciple-making.
“Often times we focus on the process of disciple-making so much that we can sometimes forget that it’s the Spirit of God that moves us for evangelism and discipleship,” Upshaw said.
Chuck Lawless, professor of evangelism and missions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, will open the conference by addressing spiritual warfare and disciple-making.

“Sometimes we overlook the fact that we have an enemy who doesn’t want us to make disciples,” Upshaw said. “When we engage in evangelism and disciple-making, we are engaging in spiritual warfare.”
Dhati Lewis, a church planter and pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, will share on disciple-making in an urban context. Bruce Frank, lead pastor of Biltmore Baptist Church in Asheville, will address disciple-making in North Carolina. Frank’s wife, Lori, will also lead sessions for women.
“All of our speakers are passionate about making disciples and leading churches to do the same,” Upshaw said. “They will be sharing their heartbeat and passion for disciple-making, as well as share what this looks like in their daily lives.”
Jerry McCorkle, executive director of Spread Truth Ministries, will also share about an exciting new partnership between Spread Truth and North Carolina churches. The partnership involves training, equipping and encouraging churches and their members to share their faith using Spread Truth’s new mobile app that is related to “The Story” evangelism tool. Learn more about “The Story” and download the free mobile app for iPhone and Android devices at
In addition to the speakers for the large-group sessions, attendees may also choose from a number of breakout sessions that will focus on specific and practical aspects of disciple-making. Topics to be covered include: prayer, evangelism, small groups, missions, church planting, leading an evangelistic Bible study and more.
Throughout the event, Upshaw said he hopes attendees will see opportunities for making disciples flow from the relationships they have with others.
“We hope the conference helps people understand their identity in Christ as a disciple,” Upshaw said. “We also want to help them understand that it’s through the relationships we have with others that we are best able to share the gospel.
“So we want our lives to reveal the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, and speak the gospel into everyday situations.”
The conference is free to attend, but advance registration is required. Lunch is available for $7. Visit

12/1/2015 1:03:40 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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