November 2012

BGAV upholds decision to dismiss church

November 24 2012 by Robert Dilday, Baptist Press

ROANOKE, Va. – The Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) upheld a committee’s decision to end the state association’s affiliation with a church which ordained an openly gay man to the ministry earlier this fall.

Also at its Nov. 13-14 annual meeting in Roanoke, Va., with 785 registered messengers, the BGAV adopted without discussion or apparent opposition a 2013 budget which had sparked wide-ranging debate for a month.

The $12.1 million budget is $300,000 less than this year’s budget goal, the third consecutive annual budget reduction. When introduced by the BGAV budget committee Oct. 9, it won praise from some for what they said was greater support for evangelism, discipleship and new church starts. Others, however, expressed dismay at what they believed suggested a diminished role for BGAV entities other than the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.

In response, the budget committee revised the proposal on Oct. 18, increasing allocations for some entities closer to 2012 levels, while retaining the overall budget goal.

Budget committee chair David Washburn of Waynesboro, Va., said the 2013 budget is “rooted in reality.”

“We are all in this together,” he said. “We value all partners and agencies and institutions. The decision [to reduce some allocations] did not come easily.”

If fully funded, the 2013 budget allocates $8,712,000 to BGAV ministries and $3,388,000 to world mission causes. But the amounts will depend, as they have for two decades, on which budget options churches select. Available to them are three pre-set giving tracks and a fourth customized option:
  • The World Missions 1 track provides 66 percent for Virginia ministries and 34 percent for Southern Baptist Convention ministries. Currently about 27 percent of churches choose that option.
  • The World Missions 2 track provides 72 percent for BGAV ministries and 28 percent for a combination of Virginia, SBC, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and other ministries. Some 28 percent select WM2.
  • The World Missions 3 track provides 72 percent for Virginia ministries and 28 percent for CBF ministries. About 12 percent of churches choose that option.
A customized option permits churches to craft their own giving track, selecting ministries to be funded and the percentage division. About 33 percent of churches choose to do that.

For the first time, the budget includes a provision to engage in what the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) calls “shared ministries,” allowing the BGAV to fund projects which are affected by a change in strategy by the SBC’s North American Mission Board (NAMB). That amount is about $480,000, or 5 percent of total BGAV contributions to NAMB.

In the opening session of the BGAV meeting, messengers voted 164-426 against a motion to refer to a study committee the request that Ginter Park Baptist Church in Richmond withdraw its membership.

In October, the Virginia Baptist Mission Board’s Executive Committee asked Ginter Park Baptist Church in Richmond to withdraw its BGAV membership by Dec. 31 after the congregation ordained an openly gay man in September.

The request stipulated that if Ginter Park declined to withdraw by that date, the BGAV would no longer accept its financial contributions – action which would essentially end the church’s affiliation with the state association.

At the BGAV meeting, Richmond pastor Jim Somerville said dismissal of a church was too significant to leave only to the BGAV Executive Committee.

“I believe the Executive Committee acted in accordance with BGAV principles, but this is a big decision and the Executive Committee shouldn’t make it alone,” said Somerville, pastor of First Baptist Church in Richmond. He added he didn’t want to open a discussion about homosexuality or church autonomy on the floor of the BGAV.

Instead, he offered a motion to refer the action to a study committee to be appointed by the BGAV president, which would report at the 2013 annual BGAV meeting.

Mark Ross, pastor of Marion (Va.) Baptist Church, supported the motion because Christians have “been wrong about many things and many of us would not be here today or in our churches if we let the past determine our future.”

“Let’s look at what God would have us do, not in the past, but in the future,” he said.

But Travis Collins, pastor of Bon Air Baptist Church in Richmond, said, “The Executive Committee’s action is consistent with what we have done before.... It’s consistent with my understanding of scripture and probably with the understanding of the vast majority of Virginia Baptists.”

Don Davidson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., said few people would be persuaded by a year of study. Instead, it would be a year of “slow drift of being in the news and being discussed.”

“We are known as a moderate convention, though I’m on the conservative end of that,” Davidson said. “And I’m at home with that. But this [ordination] is a step too far.”

This is the first time the BGAV has dismissed a church over homosexuality, but it has addressed the issue in the past. A 1993 resolution called homosexual behavior “sinful and unacceptable to Christians” and that statement is typically included in the state association’s identity documents.

A report from the BGAV’s Christian life committee which drew the same conclusion was “commended to the churches” in 1998.

The BGAV’s ties to both the University of Richmond and Averett University were ended over homosexuality, though Averett’s association was restored last year when the school clarified its stance in a way the BGAV regarded as compatible with its position.

In an uncontested election, Richmond layman Carl Johnson was elected president – the first person since 1944 to hold the post twice. Johnson, a retired denominational financial officer, was president in 1987. For the past year, he had been serving as the BGAV’s first vice president.

Johnson, a member of First Baptist Church in Richmond who retired in 2000 as chief financial officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, succeeds Mark Croston, pastor of East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, Va.

Johnson was succeeded as first vice president by Tommy McDearis, pastor of Blacksburg (Va.) Baptist Church, who was elected 232-205 over Lee Ellison, pastor of Mount Hermon Baptist Church in Moseley, Va.

Also elected was Kevin Meadows, pastor of Grandin Court Baptist Church in Roanoke, as second vice president. Meadows was the only nominee for the position.

Fred Anderson, executive director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, was elected to a 31st term as clerk.

Next year’s BGAV meeting is set for Nov. 12-13 in either Fredericksburg, Va., or Washington’s Northern Virginia suburbs.


(EDITOR’S NOTE – Robert Dilday is managing editor of the Religious Herald, newsjournal of the Baptist General Association of Virginia.)
11/24/2012 4:40:16 PM by Robert Dilday, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



S.C. Baptists increase direct giving to IMB

November 24 2012 by Butch Blume, Baptist Courier

GREENVILLE, S.C. (BP) – Under the banner of “Great Commission Living,” South Carolina Baptists gathered at the TD Convention Center in Greenville to conduct their state convention’s annual business and to worship and fellowship together.

Messengers elected new officers, adopted a $28.6 million budget, enacted bylaw changes to conform with last year’s adoption of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, and endorsed the appointment of a Seeking the Kingdom Task Force to develop a “compelling vision” to guide the future work and ministry of South Carolina Baptists.

Resolutions on adoption, religious liberty and gambling also were approved at the Nov. 13-14 meeting which drew 1,104 registered messengers representing 460 of the convention’s 2,117 churches and 707,000 members.


Budget

Although the bottom line for the 2013 South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) $28.6 million operating budget remains unchanged from 2012, the supplemental amount to be forwarded directly to the International Mission Board (IMB) grew by nearly half.

The direct allocation to the IMB was boosted from $400,263 to $583,768, while the amount of Cooperative Program (CP) funds to be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention remained unchanged at $11,685,000.

The remaining $16,815,000 will stay in South Carolina to support Executive Board ministries, Woman’s Missionary Union and the SCBC’s seven affiliated institutions.

The increase in the IMB allocation reflects South Carolina Baptist messengers’ decision last year, in adopting the state convention’s Great Commission Resurgence report, to increase supplemental funding to IMB by 21.95 percent over three years in order to achieve an amount that reflects what the missions entity would receive if the SCBC split its Cooperative Program gifts 50/50 with the Southern Baptist Convention.

In 2013, South Carolina Baptists will forward 41 percent of CP receipts to the SBC, the same percentage as in 2012. At the time of its adoption last November, the Great Commission Resurgence report called for moving the SCBC toward a 50/50 split of Cooperative Program funds with the Southern Baptist Convention within five years.

The state convention budget anticipates revenues of $28.5 million through Cooperative Program giving and $100,000 through “Cooperative Giving,” which includes non-CP gifts to be distributed according to the direction of the donor.


Bylaw changes

Messengers approved changes to the convention’s bylaws to allow the SCBC’s universities and other institutions to have a greater say in the election of trustees to their governing boards.

The bylaw changes codify recommendations adopted last year as part of the report of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Task Force.

The revised bylaws will give the CEOs of the institutions greater input in the selection of trustees through a mutual-agreement process with the convention’s Nominations Committee. Another bylaw change allows for one-fifth of institutional trustees to live outside South Carolina, although all trustees still must be members of Southern Baptist churches and must endorse the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

All institutional trustees will still be elected by messengers attending the SCBC annual meeting.

The changes were proposed by the GCR task force as part of a report adopted overwhelmingly by messengers in Columbia in November 2011. The GCR guidelines significantly reduce funding to the institutions in order to help pay for global missions and church-planting initiatives.

Prior to the bylaws vote, former GCR task force chairman Ralph Carter, in a recorded video, urged messengers to support the revisions, as did North Greenville University president Jimmy Epting.

Messenger Alan Quigley, pastor of South Main Street Baptist Church in Greenwood, spoke against the motion to allow out-of-state trustees to serve at the SCBC’s institutions. “Allowing outside [board] members is unprecedented,” he said, adding that he opposed “unlocking the doors” of the institutions, some of which might choose to “depart the SCBC” under future leadership, he said.

Don Purvis, a retired pastor from Hartsville who served on the GCR task force, spoke from the floor in favor of the bylaw changes. “If anything will be accomplished to reach the world for Christ, we need to approve this recommendation,” he said.

Jim Stovall, a messenger from Taylors First Baptist Church, also spoke in favor of the motion, saying “we need to pass this” to help “institutions and mission boards.”

With no further discussion from the floor, SCBC president Brad Atkins asked messengers to vote on the motion by lifting their ballots. Atkins ruled that the motion carried by a two-thirds majority.

Messengers also approved other bylaw alterations or additions, including the adoption of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as the convention’s statement of faith; changes to membership guidelines for the Committee on Committees to allow for representation of churches across the spectrum of large and small congregations and to reflect “the ethnic diversity” of the SCBC; and adoption of a statement that similarly calls for ethnic diversity among those elected to serve on standing committees of the SCBC.


Seeking the Kingdom Task Force

Messengers approved – but not without discussion – the creation of a Seeking the Kingdom Task Force to begin determining the future focus of the state convention.

SCBC president Brad Atkins announced in early November his desire to appoint the task force, which would be charged with crafting a ministry concept and plan that will guide the future work of the state convention and its churches.

Experience Kingdom Life is the SCBC’s current ministry focus and is slated to end in December 2013.

During the Wednesday morning business session, Atkins asked first vice president Brad Kelley to preside over discussion of a motion to empower Atkins to appoint the task force. The motion was offered by Jon Davis, pastor of Summit Church in Ladson, during Tuesday morning’s business session.

Atkins elaborated on his reasons for wanting to appoint the task force. “The South Carolina Baptist Convention needs to have a compelling vision ... [to] rally behind as we had under Empowering Kingdom Growth ... and Experience Kingdom Life,” he said.

Atkins told messengers the task force “doesn’t replace any governance” of the Executive Board, institution trustees or staff, local church leadership or any ministries of the SCBC. He said each entity “will have to interpret the vision and principles” offered by the task force, whose recommendations will be subject to approval by SCBC messengers.

Atkins said he hopes the task force will build on the “principles of the Cooperative Program” and the “mandates” of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

Naveen Balakrishnan, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Adams Run, spoke in opposition to the motion and expressed concern that the task force would bypass the Executive Board’s and the executive director-treasurer’s “duty of casting the vision” for the state convention. “This is contrary to established pattern,” he said.

SCBC executive director-treasurer Jim Austin said he appreciated Balakrishnan’s perspective but said he had “no problem with how this is framed” and that the task force would not “usurp authority from the Executive Board or other boards.”

With no further discussion, a majority of messengers approved the motion by a show of ballots.

The Seeking the Kingdom Task Force will consist of 40 members, including former SCBC presidents, convention officers, SCBC executive leaders, institution leaders, pastors and WMU leaders. For a more complete list of task force members, visit www.baptistcourier.com/7894.article.


Officers

Messengers elected a new slate of officers during the closing session of the annual meeting.

Ralph Carter, pastor of Brushy Creek Baptist Church in Taylors, was elected president with 349 of 553 votes cast over Ty Childers, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Spartanburg, who received 204 votes.

Keith Shorter, pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Piedmont, was elected first vice president. Shorter received 234 of 389 votes in a runoff with Jeff Whaley, pastor of Secona Baptist Church in Pickens, who received 155 votes in the runoff. In the vote preceding the runoff, in which no candidate received 50 percent of votes, Shorter received 237 of 550 votes cast, Whaley received 169 votes, and Frankie Melton, pastor of Heath Springs Baptist Church, received 144 votes.

Micah Lane, pastor of Socastee Baptist Church in Myrtle Beach, was elected second vice president without opposition, as were recording secretary Luella Sargent, a member of Pickens First Baptist Church and ministry assistant at Eastside Baptist Church in Liberty, and registration secretary Shane Donald, pastor of Tanglewood Baptist Church in Easley.


Resolutions

Messengers approved a slate of resolutions Nov. 13 voicing their support for adoption, religious liberty and the nation of Israel, while decrying the infiltration of “sweepstakes gambling” machines across the state and the influence of foreign laws on American court proceedings.

Noting that more than 1,400 children and youth in South Carolina are in need of permanent adoptive families, messengers approved a resolution calling for governments to streamline adoption procedures and for churches to foster “transcultural adoption” by encouraging “moral, emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial support for those who undertake this [g]ospel work.”

The resolution also called for Christians to consider adopting because “children are being adopted into homes where they will not be exposed to the [g]ospel.”

Affirming the “Judeo-Christian principles of law that make up the very foundation upon which [W]estern civilization stands,” messengers approved a resolution calling on state and federal elected officials to “insure laws be litigated” according to the constitutions of South Carolina and the United States.

The “Influence of Foreign Law on Legal Proceedings” resolution acknowledged that the United States “has always been open to immigrants from cultures, races and religions” but stated that Americans “understand the danger of allowing foreign law to supersede American law.”

Messengers approved a resolution declaring South Carolina Baptists’ support for America’s “full and free exercise of religious liberty” while voicing concern for the “suppression of religious expression and Christian views” in the United States.

The resolution calls on Congress to “reverse the trends of hostility toward Christianity by passing laws that place no greater restrictions on individual Christians than on others.”

The resolution further noted a “growing anti-Christian bias” in network television programming and urged advertisers to cancel their support for any programs that promote such a bias.

Citing scriptural references to the “unconditional covenant” between God and the Hebrew people, South Carolina Baptist messengers declared their support for the “sovereignty of Israel to exist as a nation.” The resolution also recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and calls on South Carolina Baptists to pray for “the peace of Jerusalem.”

The resolution asks South Carolina Baptists to pray for Israel as well as for “those who seek her destruction, that God would change hearts and bring peace through the work of grace in His Son, Jesus Christ.”

A “new face” in the gambling industry that has “infiltrated all corners of South Carolina” prompted messengers to approve a resolution calling on lawmakers to close loopholes that allow the sweepstakes gaming industry to “mirror the dark video poker industry that plagued South Carolina for so many years.”

Similar to video poker, sweepstakes games are “permanent high-stakes games” where customers are “coerced into gambling money.” The resolution noted that the sweepstakes gambling “has mushroomed in South Carolina nearly overnight with locations in bars, restaurants, convenience stores, business centers and Internet cafés.”

The resolution urges South Carolina Baptists to “pray for and be a witness to anyone operating gambling machines that may prey on vulnerable citizens.”

Messengers expressed appreciation to SCBC officers, staff, committees, platform personalities and to the staff of the TD Convention Center in Greenville.

To view the full text of the resolutions, visit www.scbaptist.org/annualmeeting2012/annualmeeting2012resolutions.htm.

The 193rd annual meeting of the South Carolina Baptist Convention will be Nov. 12-13, 2013 at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Butch Blume is managing editor of The Baptist Courier in South Carolina.)
11/24/2012 4:32:13 PM by Butch Blume, Baptist Courier | with 0 comments



Tenn. Baptists approve Vision 2021 report

November 24 2012 by Lonnie Wilkey, Baptist Press

BARTLETT, Tenn. – Messengers to the 138th annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC) at Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett, Tenn., overwhelmingly adopted the report of the Vision 2021 Team which included 10 recommendations.

Among the recommendations was the adoption of a new vision statement and seven core values, along with an affirmation of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and a plan to move toward a 50/50 distribution of Cooperative Program (CP) funds with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) by the 2018-19 budget year.

In addition, messengers elected Morristown pastor Dean Haun as president and chose the convention’s first African American vice president – Michael Ellis, pastor of Impact Baptist Church in Memphis.

Among other items of business, messengers adopted a $37 million budget and approved a new missions partnership in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The meeting drew 926 registered messengers from 419 churches, the lowest messenger count in decades. The last time the annual meeting was held in West Tennessee was in 2009 when 1,173 messengers from 541 churches attended. The 2011 annual meeting drew 1,211 messengers from 500 churches.


Vision 2021 report

The Vision 2021 Team was authorized by messengers to the 2010 annual meeting in Knoxville.

Danny Sinquefield, chairman of the Vision 2021 Team and pastor of the host church, said prior to the annual meeting that the team prayerfully listened to Tennessee Baptists over the past 24 months as it tried to formulate a plan which “celebrates and affirms our historic partnerships” while refocusing “ministry and missions priorities around the lostness in Tennessee and around the world.”

Team member Poly Rouse, pastor of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in Hermitage, agreed.

“During our 24-month journey we have literally cried out to God asking for wisdom and direction,” he told messengers.

Rouse shared that the team had multiple meetings with entity heads and Tennessee Baptists across the state.

“With each step, we have gained insight which has culminated in this presentation,” Rouse said.

Rouse was one of several team members who spoke during the presentation of the Vision 2021 Team’s report.

During the annual meeting Sinquefield challenged Tennessee Baptists to “join our hearts and hands together in a spirit of cooperation to get the job done.”

In a symbolic move, messengers were given pieces of rope and encouraged to stretch across the sanctuary of Faith Baptist.

“We need to extend our reach,” Sinquefield said.

“Wouldn’t it be great if the TBC came to be known less as Tennessee Baptist Convention and became known more as Together Believers Can?” he asked.

The presentation was given over three sessions with a series of recommendations that were considered separately by messengers. The following recommendations were approved.

(1) Messengers adopted a new vision statement for the convention: “Our vision is to penetrate lostness and advance the gospel across Tennessee and to the ends of the earth by asking God to bring a sweeping spiritual awakening in our churches transforming our hearts toward radical obedience.”

(2) The Vision Team presented six core values for the Tennessee Baptist Convention: humility, honesty, urgency, unity, generosity and accountability.

Messenger Shelby Smith of Walter Hill First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, proposed a seventh core value – holiness. Smith observed that “when we fail to understand the holiness of God we have lost the power of God.”

Sinquefield said the team would be in favor of adding the seventh core value. A motion to amend the recommendation to include “holiness” passed by a show of ballots.

(3) Messengers approved a unified revival theme of “It’s Time!” based on Hosea 10:12 as the focus for the year ahead. The recommendation included a call to solemn assembly and encouraged churches to engage in seasons of prayer, confession and repentance and to strive for reconciliation of relationships between individuals and churches. It also called for “acceptance of our personal and corporate failure in following the Great Commandments and fulfilling the Great Commission – becoming burdened for the 3.6 million lost people in Tennessee and billions more around the world.”

(4) Messengers approved the following mission statement for the convention: “The Tennessee Baptist Convention is a cooperating network of churches, and related ministry partners, committed to reaching Tennessee and the world for God’s glory by sharing the gospel and multiplying disciples.”

(5) Messengers affirmed four priority ministries for the TBC Executive Board for the next 10 years (to be evaluated annually). They are sending churches, strengthening churches, starting churches and supporting churches.

(6) In accordance with actions taken by the TBC in 2006, messengers affirmed the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as the convention’s “confessional foundation guiding our faith and practice as a convention of churches.” This recommendation was adopted without discussion.

(7) Messengers approved a recommendation which “respectfully requests that each church consider increasing their support of the Cooperative Program, making this a significant part of their church’s mission giving strategy as we partner together in fulfilling the Great Commission.”

“Leaders need to step up and lead,” Sinquefield said of the recommendation. He noted that Faith Baptist Church has begun the process to increase its CP gifts. The recommendation was adopted without discussion.

(8) In accordance with actions taken in 2010, messengers adopted a recommendation to request the Executive Board to move to a 50/50 distribution of Cooperative Program funds between the TBC and the Southern Baptist Convention beginning with the 2013-14 budget with the goal of reaching the 50 percent equal distribution by the 2018-19 budget year.

Sinquefield noted this recommendation “has caused more discussion than any other” of the recommendations. It was acknowledged that the TBC has increased its SBC portion including a half percent increase in this year’s budget.

In response to a question, Sinquefield said the intent of the recommendation is to accomplish the goal in a six-year timeframe. The recommendation passed by a show of ballots.

(9) Messengers approved a recommendation to “request the Executive Board to facilitate statewide cooperation through the establishment of a strategic regional TBC presence focused on engaging churches and associations in the development and deployment of strategies for sending, starting, strengthening and supporting churches.”

Sinquefield noted this is already happening, citing the leadership of TBC Executive Director Randy Davis.

In response to a question from Scott Linginfelter of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Maryville, Davis said the recommendation would not involve new staff or buildings.

Messenger Michael Adams of First Baptist Church in Lexington expressed concern that the convention would be competing with local associations. Sinquefield stressed that was not the case. The intent, he said, was to get state convention staff in a closer partnership with the local associations across the state. The recommendation passed by a show of ballots.

(10) The Vision Team’s final recommendation called for the formation of a Vision 2021 Transition Team, consisting of seven members from the Vision Team and two officers (president of the convention and chairman of the Executive Board) with the TBC executive director and a representative from the entity leaders serving as ex officio members.

The recommendation noted the transition team “will guide the process toward accomplishment of the actions approved by this convention, receive reports from TBC entities regarding actions taken in response to requests, report progress and response to the convention and recommend to the convention additional actions necessary to the fulfillment of the convention’s vision, mission, priorities and budgets.”

Sinquefield said he would name the transition team. He sent a list of the team members to the Baptist & Reflector Nov. 15. The transition team includes Chuck Groover (chair), pastor of Victory Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet; Corey Cain, pastor of Maplewood Baptist Church in Paris; Bruce Chesser, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville; Mike Day, senior associate pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett; David Green, pastor of First Baptist Church in Greenville; Larry Robertson, pastor of Hilldale Baptist Church in Clarksville; and Jamie Work, pastor of Candies Creek Baptist Church in Charleston.

Other members are Dean Haun (TBC president), Bob Brown (chair of the TBC Executive Board who is pastor of First Baptist Church in Dandridge), and two ex-officio members: Davis (TBC executive director) and David Dockery (president of Union University, representing the entity leadership).

Gary Gerhardt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Church Hill, questioned the need for a transition team rather than the existing Executive Board and the costs involved.

Sinquefield said the Vision Team has already been involved in the process and has “reams of information” that will be needed for implementation. “Our task is not completed until implementation takes place,” he said. The recommendation passed.


Officers

All three ministers were unopposed for office and were elected by acclamation.

Dean Haun, current TBC vice president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Morristown, was named president after being nominated by Bob Brown, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dandridge. Brown also is chair of the TBC Executive Board.

Brown noted that First Baptist Morristown gives 11 percent of its undesignated funds through the Cooperative Program to Southern Baptist causes and the church is in the top 200 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

Brown also reported on the many ministries of the church started during the five years Haun has served there. Haun also has served as a board member of the International Mission Board, Brown said.

Michael Ellis, pastor of Impact Baptist Church in Memphis, was elected as vice president by acclamation, becoming the first African American to hold a TBC office. He was nominated by Mike Day, senior associate pastor at Faith Baptist Church and former director of missions for the Mid-South Baptist Association.

Day observed that Ellis “is a man of prayer, humility and faith.”

Day noted that while the election of Ellis would “cross historic, bridge eclipsing barriers” his selection would be much more than an historic opportunity.

This is an opportunity to elect a man from a cooperative church who encourages his church to tithe and give through the Cooperative Program, Day said.

Ellis, who is retired from the U.S. Navy after serving 21 years, has led Impact Baptist, a church plant of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, for six years and has seen it grow from 22 members to 1,300.

Steve Freeman, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Springfield, was named second vice president by acclamation. Freeman was nominated by Corey Cain, pastor of Maplewood Baptist Church in Paris.

Cain noted that while Freeman has served the church for the past five years it has grown and Freeman has baptized 220 people there.

The positions of recording and registration secretary are no longer elected each year. They are currently filled by Julie Heath (recording) and Dan Ferrell (registration).


Budget

Messengers approved a budget of $37 million for 2012-13, an increase of $250,000 or 0.7 percent over last year’s budget.

The budget is divided 59.25 percent for TBC causes and 40.75 percent for SBC causes. The amount intended for the SBC was increased this year by half a percentage point.

During the introduction of the budget, Paul Rose, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Covington and a trustee of the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, noted that in 2002 the TBC voted to restore TBCH to 5 percent of the budget. “We have not met that 5 percent goal,” Rose said. In this year’s budget, the TBCH will receive $1,727,900 or 4.67 of the TBC portion of the budget.

Rose made a motion to amend the budget to “move the TBCH share to 5 percent of CP giving.”

The next day, Rose withdrew the motion noting he did not intend for his motion “to cause hardship” to the budget process and impact other ministry partners.

TBC President Fred Shackelford noted that the motion could be withdrawn if no one objected. No objections were voiced, so the motion was withdrawn and the budget passed as presented.

The budget does not include any funds listed as TBC-SBC shared expenses.


Partnerships

Tennessee Baptists without opposition adopted a five-year volunteer missions partnership with International Mission Board missionaries serving in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The partnership will begin Jan. 1, 2014 and run through Dec. 31, 2018, with a year of preparation beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

The TBC also formally signed two partnerships that were established last year with Baptists in Italy and southwest Ohio.

Tennessee Baptists formally recognized the end of a 10-year partnership with the Baptist Convention of Iowa. Jon Jamison of the Iowa convention presented a plaque to Davis and the TBC “expressing deep love and appreciation for Tennessee Baptists.”


Recommendations

With one exception, recommendations from the Committee on Committees and Committee on Boards were approved by messengers.

Gary Moats of Chestuee Baptist Church in Calhoun, made a motion to replace Jay McCluskey, pastor of North Cleveland Baptist Church in Cleveland, who was nominated to serve on the Executive Board, with Joel Jenkins, pastor of Benton Station Baptist Church in Benton Station.

Moats cited McCluskey’s printed response to the question, “Do you affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000?”

McCluskey responded, “Yes, except the phrase in section VI that states ‘The office of pastor is limited to men.’”

In speaking to the motion, McCluskey noted the BF&M has not been a litmus test for leadership. He noted he has “been a team player” within the TBC his entire ministry and that his church gives more than 15 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program. In 2011, the church’s CP gifts were $91,620 or 15.15 percent.

A member of McCluskey’s church, Steve Roper, spoke in favor of his pastor. Roper said the church has never had an ordained woman minister or deacon during McCluskey’s 25-plus years of ministry at the church.

Moats said he did not question McCluskey’s love for God or what he has done but noted that one of the recommendations of the Vision 2021 Team was a recommendation affirming the BF&M. “He (McCluskey) did not support that statement,” Moats said.

The motion to vacate McCluskey was approved by a show of ballots vote.

Jenkins was then approved for the position on the Executive Board. Jenkins expressed approval of the BF&M statement. His church gave $4,416 or 3.84 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program in 2011.


Resolutions

Three resolutions were passed including the traditional resolution of gratitude.

Messengers approved, with some debate, a resolution on a sinner’s prayer.

The resolution noted that “God desires for every person to be saved and has made salvation available for any person who hears the gospel” and that “a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the gospel is both possible and necessary in order for anyone to be born again.”

The resolution noted that this “is no one uniform wording found in Scripture or in the churches for a ‘sinner’s prayer’” and that “it is biblically appropriate to help a sinner in calling on the Lord for salvation.”

The resolution observed that a sinner’s prayer “is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the gospel.”

The resolution commended “the use of a sinner’s prayer as a biblically sound and spiritually significant component of the evangelistic task of the church.”

Finally, the resolution resolved that “we encourage all Christians to enthusiastically and intentionally proclaim the gospel to sinners everywhere, being prepared to give them the reason for the hope we have in Christ, and being prepared to lead them to confess faith in Christ, including praying to receive Him as Savior and Lord.”

Several speakers spoke in favor of the resolution which was presented by Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova; Chuck Herring, pastor of First Baptist Church in Collierville; and David Leavell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Millington.

Herring noted that a sinner’s prayer is a biblical response. Several people spoke against the resolution.

Ben Simpson, pastor of West Main Baptist Church in Alexandria, said the resolution was unnecessary.

“The SBC affirmed a better resolution on a sinner’s prayer” at its annual meeting in June, Simpson said.

Marty Comer, chairman of the Resolutions Committee and pastor of Sand Ridge Baptist Church in Lexington, said the committee was aware of the SBC resolution.

“We are simply affirming praying is a biblical response to the grace of God,” Comer said. “It is not an incantation.”

The resolution passed with some opposition by show of ballots.

A resolution on ministers meeting for prayer and mutual encouragement was approved without debate.


Other business

– Messengers debated a recommendation offered by Steve Tiebout, pastor of The River Church in Cookeville.

Tiebout’s motion requested “that the Executive Board strongly consider only appointing to the Church Planting Funding Team board members whose church is presently participating in church planting or have planted a church themselves.”

Concern was expressed by several messengers that the motion would restrict the Executive Board from carrying out its responsibility.

“This is getting involved in the administrative process,” said Jim Collier, pastor of Kirby Woods Baptist Church in Memphis.

The motion failed by a show of ballots vote.

– During the annual meeting, messengers heard sermons on shared vision and witnessed God at work through several baptism services held during the sessions.

– Messengers also heard reports from TBC Executive Board staff and TBC entities.

– A bylaws amendment was approved to codify action by the 2011 annual meeting which eliminated a Wednesday afternoon session.

– Messengers approved the following recommendations from the Committee on Arrangements:

(1) Robert Gallaty, pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, will deliver the 2013 convention sermon with Gary Jared, pastor of Stuart Heights Baptist Church in Hixson, as alternate.

(2) The Chattanooga Convention Center will be the site of the 2013 annual meeting Nov. 12-13.

(3) Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood will host the 2014 annual meeting Nov. 11-12. The meeting in 2015 will be at First Baptist Church in Millington and was already approved by messengers.

(4) The 2016 annual meeting will be Nov. 15-16 at the Sevierville Convention Center.

Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will be a guest speaker at the 2013 annual meeting in Chattanooga.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist & Reflector of Tennessee. With reporting by Connie Davis Bushey.)
11/24/2012 4:25:30 PM by Lonnie Wilkey, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Alaska Baptists affirm authority of Bible

November 23 2012 by Baptist Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The 67th annual meeting of the Alaska Baptist Convention (ABC) adopted a multi-faceted resolution affirming the authority of the Bible.

The resolution calls political leaders to preserve the freedom of religion and commends Christians who uphold a biblical worldview; it specifically names President Obama, Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Alaska Rep. Don Young; and it commends Dan Cathy and the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain that Cathy leads.

“We call upon all appropriate government and legislative bodies and leaders, including United States President Barak Obama, Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich, and Alaska Representative Don Young to courageously support and defend the full rights afforded all Americans in the Constitution of the United States, specifically the right to religious liberty as guaranteed in the First Amendment,” the resolution reads.

“We commend and support all Christians who, in the face of ridicule, slander and persecution, take a redemptive biblical stand, as specifically exampled by Dan Cathy and the Chick-fil-A Corporation,” the document reads.

Alaska Baptists also commended “all Christians and churches who minister redemptively to those persons enslaved by non-biblical sexuality issues,” promising “prayerful support for all Christian ministries that seek to be instruments of God’s redemption from all sin.”

Messengers voted to send the resolution to Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and all individuals named in the document.

A $1.5 million 2013 budget was adopted, 19 percent less than the current $1.8 million budget, which was 14.6 percent less than the previous year.

In Cooperative Program giving from the convention’s 100 churches, $683,679 has been budgeted, 36 percent of which will be allocated to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries – up 3 percent from last year – and $65,190 for shared expenses with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Elected as 2013 officers are: president, Don Shannon, pastor of the Sunset Hills Baptist Church in Anchorage; first vice president, Johnny McCoy, pastor of the First Baptist Church in North Pole; second vice president, Jack Sherman, a member of First Baptist Church in Palmer; and recording secretary, Mary Sue Foster, a member of Fairview Loop Baptist Church in Wasilla.

“We Would See Jesus” was the theme for the Sept. 25-26 meeting at Glacier Valley Baptist Church in Juneau.

In other business, messengers recognized Mike Procter, ABC executive director and treasurer, for 10 years of service, and scheduled its 68th annual meeting for Sept. 23-25, 2013, at Glacier Valley Baptist Church in Juneau.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler with reporting by Alaska Baptist Convention staff.)
11/23/2012 4:48:18 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Colo. Baptists report growth, Kingdom impact

November 23 2012 by Baptist Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado Baptists welcomed four new churches to the convention during its 57th annual meeting and heard reports of Kingdom ministry by its entity partners.

Joining the Colorado Baptist General Convention were Karval Fellowship in Karval, led by Alan Carr; Gospel Church in Durango, led by Thomas Thiessen; the River in Monument, led by Michael B. Jiles, and Family Room Fellowship in Grand Junction, led by Ammani Bullock.

As the convention focuses on reaching Colorado’s diverse population, coalitions of associations have formed to strengthen the network of church and associational leadership and to equip church planting catalysts, church planters and directors of missions, convention leaders reported to messengers.

The Baptist Foundation of Colorado, the Ponderosa Retreat & Conference Center and the Rocky Mountain Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, all considered vital parts of the convention, reported on their growth and leadership development in advancing God’s Kingdom in Colorado and beyond.

Colorado missionaries jointly supported by the convention, its associations and the North American Mission Board have taken on new challenges and expanded their territories, with video presentations providing messengers glimpses of their Kingdom impact during the Oct. 16–17 sessions at Vista Grande Baptist Church in Colorado Springs.

Messengers to the annual meeting approved 2013 budgets for the convention, the Baptist Foundation of Colorado and the Ponderosa Retreat and Conference Center in Larkspur.

The 2013 convention budget of $3,811,482 reflects a 5.3 percent increase over the 2012 budget. An anticipated $1,928,748 in Cooperative Program giving from Colorado’s churches is just 1.5 percent less than the $1,957,538 budgeted in 2012. The 2013 budget also includes anticipated income from the North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources.

Of the Cooperative Program budget, the Colorado convention allocated $590,000 for outreach and ministry by the state’s Baptists; $590,000 for SBC Cooperative Program missions and ministry; and $590,000 for other world missions endeavors. The remaining $158,748 is allocated to Colorado-SBC shared expenses.

Convention president Tree Cooper addressed the 170 messengers and guests, focusing on the theme of “Abide in the Power, Presence and Purpose of Christ” from John 15:9. Cooper, who said he has spent 2012 in prayer for each of the convention pastors and churches, challenged the messengers to pray for a specific person in the year to come.

Other speakers were Voddie Baucham, pastor of preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas; Rick Melick Jr., director of the academic graduate studies program and a distinguished professor of New Testament Studies at Golden Gate Seminary; and Mike Hensley, pastor of Heart of the Springs Church in Colorado Springs.

Hear sermons from the Colorado annual meeting here.

Cooper, pastor of The Alpine Chapel in Telluride, was re-elected as convention president and executive board chairman, as were first vice president William Isaacson, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Gunnison; second vice president Rolland Kenneson, pastor of Summit Baptist Church in Wiggins; and recording secretary Ginger LeBlanc, a convention ministry assistant and preschool ministries director at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in Centennial.

Messengers approved several resolutions of appreciation recognizing ministry partners, leaders and volunteers, including disaster relief units who responded during the 2012 Colorado wildfires.

The Colorado convention will hold its 2013 annual meeting Oct. 15-16 at the Doubletree Hotel & Conference Center in Grand Junction.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Ginger LeBlanc, a ministry assistant to the executive team of the Colorado Baptist General Convention.)
11/23/2012 4:44:36 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Dakota Baptists honor retired pastors

November 23 2012 by Fred MacDonald, Baptist Press

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Dakota Baptist Convention honored 11 retired pastors and their wives during its 28th annual meeting at Calvary Baptist Church in Rapid City, S.D.

Messengers approved a 2013 budget of $1.2 million, down $35,976 from the previous year. They also made constitutional changes and adopted resolutions on the upcoming national election and a renewed commitment to personal soul-winning.

The theme of the meeting was, “Renewing our Partnership in the Gospel,” based on Philippians 1:3-6. A total of 75 messengers and 67 guests registered during the meeting Sept. 27-28.

David Wheeler, evangelism professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., presented a series of Bible studies. Steve Lindsay, president of the Dakota convention, and Garvon Golden, Dakota Baptists’ new executive director, preached convention sermons.

A highlight of the meeting was the recognition of 11 couples with a combined total of more than 350 years of service to churches in North and South Dakota. Golden said the men and their wives had illustrated partnership in the gospel by “planting their lives in the Dakotas.” Each couple was given a carved bison made from North Dakota coal, which “symbolizes resilience,” Golden said.

After honoring the pastors, Golden introduced new pastors and staff to the Dakotas and then asked the longtime servants to gather around the new staff and pray over them.

Of the $1.2 million approved for next year’s budget, nearly $750,000 was designated for planting churches. Anticipated Cooperative Program (CP) giving from Dakota Baptist churches for 2013 is $275,000, and the amount of CP receipts forwarded for national and international ministries remains unchanged at 16 percent. The convention does not designate shared Dakotas/SBC expenses.

The change to the constitution involved clarifying requirements for seating messengers. The requirement that churches be members of associations to seat messengers was removed, and the requirement that giving through the Cooperative Program be “at least quarterly” was changed to “regular giving.”

Throughout the two days of meetings, Wheeler delivered four Bible studies focused on obedient sharing of the gospel. The idea of a “gift of evangelism” is not found in scripture, Wheeler said. It is a requirement of every believer.

“Our purpose is to glorify God in all things,” Wheeler said, “and our mission is to join Christ on mission by daily living out the Great Commandment and daily living out the Great Commission.”

Wheeler added, “It’s not about going to church. It’s about being the church.”

Messengers approved three resolutions. The first expressed appreciation to the host church. Calvary was the first church established by Southern Baptists in South Dakota.

The second resolution said “our current society and government are seeking to eliminate” many of the nation’s cherished religious freedoms. It called on Christians to “pray for the upcoming election” and “participate in the election by voting biblical values.” The resolution also affirmed a 2012 Southern Baptist Convention resolution “to defend the God-given and constitutionally guaranteed right of every American citizen to worship God freely in thought, word, and action, according to the dictates of his or her conscience.”

The third resolution flowed from the challenge of Wheeler’s Bible studies to engage in personal evangelism. The resolution called on Dakota Baptists to “be obedient in faithfully and intentionally sharing the love and gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Two sermons were delivered during the meeting. In the president’s message, Lindsay spoke on overcoming the trap of becoming discouraged, disheartened and disillusioned. Focusing on Galatians 6:9-10, he said, “You can be weary or not be weary. It’s a choice.”

Golden, who was named executive director of the Dakota convention in March, thanked Dakota Baptists for their confidence and for the love that he and his wife Cindy experienced during their decades of service in the Dakotas.

He commended the spirit of the annual meeting, saying, “I’m grateful this hasn’t just been business; it’s been fellowship.” Golden then laid out his vision for the future. “The Dakotas is our responsibility. It’s our time to touch the Dakotas.”

The messengers elected Lindsay to a second term as convention president. Also reelected were Jeff Musgrave, pastor of First Baptist Church in Langdon, N.D., as vice president and Kathy Osborne, a member of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Grand Forks, N.D., as recording secretary. For the first time in many years, the convention elected an assistant recording secretary. Karen Holmes, a member of First Baptist Church in Wolsey, S.D., was chosen for the position.

The DBC Executive Board met briefly during a break in the annual meeting to elect officers for the coming year. John Flowers, pastor of Living Hope Baptist Church in Fargo, N.D., was elected to a second term as board chairman and Marion Davis, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Aberdeen, S.D., was reelected vice chairman.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Fred MacDonald is an evangelism strategist for the Dakota Baptist Convention.)
11/23/2012 4:41:33 PM by Fred MacDonald, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



NAMP VP urges N.C. Baptists to be obedient, pursue Kingdom

November 21 2012 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Although Jeff Christopherson’s first church plant birthed two more new churches, he knew something wasn’t right. Somehow, his focus had become building the church instead of building God’s Kingdom.
 
“I had strayed a long way from what I had first learned. God, in His providence, gave me an opportunity to repent,” Christopherson said. “This time I remembered the things my spiritual fathers taught me.”
 
This time, when Christopherson planted a church in Toronto, Ontario, he set out to make the name of Jesus great and not the name of the church.
 
“Somehow, we as modern-day evangelicals have put the emphasis on the wrong thing. We put the emphasis on the local church,” he said.
 
11-21-12gcpbfast.jpg

BR photo by Shawn Hendricks

Jeff Christopherson, North American Mission Board regional vice president for Canada and the Northeast, talks with participants of the Great Commission Partnerships breakfast Nov. 13.


“When we do that, we make decisions to preserve the church because it is the highest goal. The church is the vehicle to engage the goal; it’s not the highest goal itself.”
 
Christopherson shared during the Great Commission Partnerships missions breakfast, held in conjunction with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s recent annual meeting in Greensboro, that the highest goal is God’s Kingdom.
 
Christopherson is the North American Mission Board regional vice president for Canada and the Northeast. 
 
Also participating in the missions breakfast was Boto Joseph, pastor of House of Worship Church in New York City, and Mark Harrison, missions pastor at Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
 
The need for churches to regain a passion and commitment to pursuing God’s Kingdom so burdened Christopherson that he wrote Kingdom Matrix, a book devoted to helping churches understand Kingdom principles.
 
Kingdom Matrix deconstructs several myths of Christianity, such as the myth of the third Kingdom. Believers are either helping expand God’s Kingdom or the dominion of darkness; there is no middle ground.
 
“At any given moment we are either building the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of darkness. Every decision is inspired by one of these two sources. Everything we do has spiritual implications,” Christopherson said. “When we’re not expanding the Kingdom we have one other idea: expanding our own kingdom.”
 
God’s Kingdom is about everyone having an opportunity to hear the gospel and less about church growth.
 
Too often the local church seeks to gather and then control the most resources instead of seeking to serve others by giving themselves away to the cause of Christ.
 
In Kingdom Matrix, Christopherson writes that, “Our efforts of consolidation have reduced us from a counterculture movement of Little Christs to a religion preoccupied with how many we sit in our bleachers.”
 
Christopherson suggests four quadrants or aspects of the Kingdom Matrix: self-seekers, brand expanders, Kingdom seekers and Kingdom expanders. Self-seekers love self and are motivated by whatever proves to be in their best interest.
 
Brand expanders get caught up in ensuring that their brand is the most competitive and has the greatest market share. Although Kingdom seekers value morals, ideals and helping a good cause – even Kingdom causes – they do not know the King.
 
Only the Kingdom expanders are truly engaged in the Kingdom of God, for they live with the “unshakable conviction that the improbable ways of God are the only paths to accomplish the eternal purposes of God.”
 
Commitment to God’s Kingdom requires believers to be aware of influencers that will drive them to or away from biblical truth. For example, the influence of change. Change is often necessary in churches in order for the church to fulfill God’s purposes. Yet, leaders cannot manipulate change and they cannot make decisions based on the will of the majority without regard to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
 
“In leadership when you want change, unity of the Spirit is important; unity of man is not,” Christopherson said.
 
Another critical influencer in the lives of believers is authority. Self-seekers believe they are their own authority, whereas brand-expanders want to build a corporate identity that becomes the authority. Kingdom-expanders recognize God as the highest authority and seek His purposes and plans.
 
In order to make much of God’s Kingdom believers must make much less of self.
 
“Our whole purpose is to be salt and light and to have a transforming presence,” Christopherson said. “The Kingdom of God has a king. Our only job on earth is to be obedient to the King.”
 
Find out more about Great Commission Partnerships at ncbaptist.org/gcp or email msowers@ncbaptist.org

Related story

NCBM capable of extraordinary work using ordinary people
 
11/21/2012 12:44:53 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



NCBM capable of extraordinary work using ordinary people

November 21 2012 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

When someone thinks of North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), Richard Brunson wants women and students – not just men – to come to mind.
 
“Think about the thousands of volunteers,” Brunson, NCBM executive director, said Nov. 13 in his report before the messengers of the Baptist State Convention annual meeting in Greensboro. “Think about Red Springs and Shelby mission camps. Think about thousands of students who go on Deep Impact and Transform 122 every year.”
 
11-21-12ncbm.jpg

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Richard Brunson, executive director of North Carolina Baptist Men, presents a report Nov. 13 to messengers at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting.


Even though disaster relief efforts get the most press coverage, NCBM does more than disaster relief. Ministries include agriculture, aviation, medical missions, sports, lay renewal as well as dental ministry.
 
With two mobile dental units, N.C. Baptists served “more than 4,000 hurting people every year in our state,” Brunson said.
 
“Jesus showed His love for us through His actions,” Brunson said. “If we change a life, we can make a difference and change a community.”
 
Currently, Baptist Men has volunteers in New Jersey and New York serving on a variety of teams: kitchen, laundry, shower, chainsaw, etc.
 
Church leaders can involve their members in NCBM ministries. Each person who goes plants seeds, helping villages, cities, churches expand God’s Kingdom.
 
“God is using ordinary people,” Brunson said. “Ordinary people with ordinary gifts whom God is using in extraordinary ways; True love which shows itself in actions.”

Related story

NAMP VP urges N.C. Baptists to be obedient, pursue Kingdom

For more stories from the annual meeting, visit here.
11/21/2012 12:37:59 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Hollifield calls messengers to pray for spiritual awakening

November 20 2012 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

As the interest in revival services among church members continues to decline, especially among younger members, so does the interest and awareness of the need for spiritual awakening.
 
During his address to messengers of the 182nd annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, shared that the younger generation is not interested because many have never participated in genuine revival or observed a season of awakening in their church.
 
Genuine revival is desperately needed. In N.C., 5.6 million people do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and 6.1 billion people around the world are spiritually lost.
 
In order for believers to experience revival and spiritual awakening Hollifield said they must return to God in prayer.
 
“The saints are spending too little time with the Savior through meaningful Bible study and personal intimate prayer, resulting in disobedience, weak faith and little compassion for fulfilling the Great Commission,” he said. “It is both grand and magnificent to establish goals and plans to reach the lost of our state and this world with the gospel, but Southern Baptists have no hope to see this become a reality unless we experience a return to personal holiness so that God can empower us to accomplish His will.”
 
11-20-12hollifield.jpg

BSC photo by K Brown

Milton Hollifield, BSC executive director-treasurer, kneels in prayer after his sermon on spiritual awakening.


Sometimes prosperity keeps people from praying, Hollifield said, as they think they no longer need God. People also get caught up in the busyness of life.
 
“The devil will keep us busy doing good things in order to keep us from doing the best,” Hollifield said.
Hollifield explained that the prayer life of Jesus is the model for all believers. Jesus was known to pray in certain places and to pray all night and early in the morning.
 
“If prayer was that important to Jesus, how much more important should it be to us?” Hollifield said. “God expects His children to pray.”
 
Hollifield said that not only does God expect His children to pray, God glorifies Himself through the prayers of His children as they call on His name and recognize His greatness and holiness. Through prayer God’s children acknowledge all the many different attributes of God, such as Creator, Prince of Peace, Bread of Life and Good Shepherd.
 
“If God does not seem as majestic to you as He was at earlier times, get alone with Him in the place of prayer. Praise Him for all that He is and reflect on your blessings,” Hollifield said.
 
“Ask God to make His presence known to you, and then linger in silence and you will begin to know His manifested presence.”
 
God blesses His children when they call on Him in prayer through provision of physical needs as well as spiritual needs. Hollifield cautioned N.C. Baptists not to focus their prayers solely on the physical and neglect the spiritual.
 
Hollifield asked N.C. Baptists to be honest before God and to confess sin, abandon pride and release anything God asks them to lay down before Him.
 
From Moses and Jacob to Martin Luther, Christianity’s history is marked with heroes of the faith who accomplished great things for God’s Kingdom because they sought the Father in prayer.
 
Prayer is so important because it is through prayer that “great spiritual battles are both fought and won,” Hollifield said. “Your time alone with God in prayer is where your love for God matures and your trust in Him grows. No Christian is greater than his or her prayer life.”
 
Hollifield concluded his message with a call for prayer among messengers. He challenged messengers to lead their congregations in the pursuit of holiness through prayer, and he charged the Convention to make prayer priority in the year to come.


For more stories from the annual meeting, visit here.
11/20/2012 2:36:47 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 4 comments



WMU-NC cancels move

November 20 2012 by BR staff

The Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) will not be moving to Lillington.
 
“Fundraising efforts to make possible the ‘gift’ of purchasing this building have been difficult in the face of a weak economy,” according to a Nov. 15 press release from WMU-NC.
 
Two contract extensions had been granted, but “it has become apparent these funds will not be available” by the Nov. 30 deadline, according to the release.
 
“The Executive Board has thus voted to rescind the contract agreement for purchase and immediately suspend any and all fundraising efforts for this purpose,” the statement said. “A letter to all contributors is being prepared and will provide options for redirecting the use of their donation or of requesting the return of that gift.”
 
The Biblical Recorder reported May 12 that WMU-NC’s Interim Executive Director Ruby Fulbright announced at the Spring Extravaganza that the WMU-NC Executive Board agreed March 24 to accept a donation of a Lillington office building. Closing on the 16,500-square-foot building was expected in May.
 
The statement said that since March 24 “there has been much enthusiasm and excitement for what appeared to be an opportunity to launch us into the future.”
 
A WMU press release in April stated, “This opportunity has been provided by several missions-minded individuals who firmly believe in the purpose of WMU-NC to ‘challenge, prepare and equip Christian believers to be radically involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.’”
 
The move was instigated to provide WMU-NC “with a home of our own,” said Tana Hartsell, WMU-NC president in an email to the Biblical Recorder.
 
“The Executive Board was confidently assured that the necessary funds to purchase the building could soon be made available upon the announcement of the decision to move forward. In the meantime, the economy continued its downward spiral and those funds were not so easily available.
 
“The vision and desire to help us still exists.  Unfortunately, enough money just isn’t.”
 
During the Executive Board’s regular meeting in September it was discussed what would happen if it was determined sufficient funds weren’t  going to be available in early to mid-November. That decision was left to the Executive Committee, who then took their decision to the full Executive Board.
 
“This was a most difficult and disappointing decision but through it much has been learned,” Hartsell said.
 
The move was purported to save the organization more than $70,000 a year that it currently pays to lease space at 1200 Front Street in Raleigh.
 
The Lillington building was built in the 1940s and was previously used as a furniture store downstairs with office space on the second floor.
 
“Because of the building’s age, significant renovations, conservatively estimated at $800,000, would be required,” said Hartsell.
11/20/2012 2:32:31 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments



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