By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—“ I am designating 2009 as the ‘year to listen in preparation for a futuring experience.’ It is a year to listen to God. It is a year to listen to our constituents,” Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware Executive Director David Lee announced to General Mission Board (GMB) members at the December 9 meeting at the Baptist Mission Resource Center. The meeting was the first for many newly elected board members.
Bill Archer, BCM/D missionary for music and worship, led members in singing Christmas carols. BaptistLIFE managing editor, Iris White, accompanied Archer on the piano.
Archer prayed. Ron Stanley, GMB president, called the meeting to order.
Executive Director’s report
David Lee reiterated the BCM/D’s vision—that by the end of 2010 there will be 600 congregations with 150,000 persons actively fulfilling the Great Commission.
“We are experiencing history in the making. This is one of those periods of history that will reshape us as a nation. And in many cases it will reshape our lives. There will most likely be a ‘new normal’ that arises out of what happens over the next 12 to 18 months,” Lee said.
Historically, we know that the times of greatest challenge for God’s people provided them open doors and great opportunities for witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth. Take note that what we are experiencing is impacting the entire world. That is a significant fact in our present story,” he continued.
Reflecting on 2008, Lee said he’s proud of what BCM/D has done. Looking ahead, Lee said it is time to discern where God is leading the convention as it approaches a “new” future.
“We were at this exact spot a decade ago—listening to God and our constituents and developing a plan to approach a new decade and a new millennium based on what we were hearing. The heart of our present mission and vision statements, as well as our strategic initiatives, were birthed out of that process.
“It’s time to do it again,” he said.
“Dreaming in 2009 is going to be more difficult than dreaming in 1999. The work of missions is more challenging, especially now in light of the economic downturn and the realities of our rapidly changing culture,” he continued. “We will most likely have to do what we do with less and some of it differently,” he said
He admitted to GMB members that occasionally he becomes discouraged and will join the “grumblers.”
“But at the end of the day I return to the words I heard spoken early in my ministry, ‘I am too blessed to be depressed!’”
Lee gave a brief overview of BCM/D business.
Embrace Baltimore is entering the final year of implementation in 2009 and will wind down in 2010. “There has been significant impact in that city,” he said.
The planning phase of “Embrace Wilmington” is being accelerated.
Work is beginning on a permanent “Shepherd’s Rest,” a retreat for ministers at Skycroft Conference Center.
Lee said BCM/D is about to begin planning to unite with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and other conventions in a national evangelism initiative. The vision is that every home in Maryland/Delaware will have received a witness on behalf of the gospel by 2012.
Lee asked GMB members to pray, become champions for the Cooperative Program, listen to the Holy Spirit, and dream God-sized dreams.
Bob Simpson, BCM/D associate executive director and editor of BaptistLIFE, shared the change in BaptistLIFE. Simpson said part of the “new normal” would include less printed and more electronic material. In 2009, six issues of BaptistLIFE will be printed and every other month will be in an electronic version. Simpson said eventually the goal is to go completely electronic.
Tom Stolle, BCM/D Chief Financial Officer, reported that as of Oct. 31, Cooperative Program receipts totaled $3,865,911.77, trailing year-to-date October 2007 by approximately $221,000. Based on current giving patterns, year-end Cooperative Program receipts will likely approximate the reforecasted revenue figure of 4.7 million. Current giving is approximating 2005 levels. Stolle said approximately $146,000 of reserves are forecasted be used to balance year-end 2008 actual results to budget.
Stolle said expenses continue to fall within the reforecasted levels and there are no significant departmental overages. The cash position continues to be strong.
The endowment fund of $1.66 million has lost value due to the decline in the financial markets. It used to be valued at over $2 million just a year ago. Stolle said that, at some point in the future, the strengthening in the financial markets resulting in increased securities values will likely increase the value of endowment fund.
Strategy Team Reports
David Jackson, BCM/D missionary for church multiplication, reported for the church multiplication team. Jackson said the team focuses on new churches up to seven-years-old with an emphasis on health, evangelism and reproduction.
Over 200 churches were planted through the region and those churches will exponentially grow in number and impact. Jackson said when he came to the BCM/D in 2001, Global Mission Church had planted a Korean Church; Samuel Cho was the planter. Cho went on to plant a Nepalese Church and the Nepalese Church is now planting a Bhutanese work.
Ellen Udovich, BCM/D missionary for direct ministries, lay mobilization, ministry evangelism and senior adults, reported for the missions involvement team. Udovich told members the team exists to help church members have an “on mission” lifestyle of loving God and their neighbors, to develop fervent prayer for lost people by name and for those you don’t know, sacrificial giving of time, abilities, and resources so others have an opportunity to hear the gospel and respond. On Mission living is about going next door, to the gym, across town, Ocean City, wherever people who need to hear about Jesus.
The team will concentrate on the area of prayer for the next year and beyond. Udovich said they would work hard focusing efforts and resources to help develop a deep fervent prayer in the hearts of people and help them to listen with open ears and hearts as to how God wants them to serve.
Tom Stolle gave the resource development team report. Stolle said in 2009 the team will focus on exploring and implementing creative and effective methods of promoting the cooperative program. They will also market multiple planned giving options, increasing the amount of future dollars to Baptist causes. Stolle said the third area is to continue to provide high quality education to include tax training, stewardship training and other training as needed to benefit our churches.
Randy Millwood, BCM/D missionary for missional church leadership, e-quip.net, small groups and seminary extension, reported for the leadership development and support team. Millwood said the team seeks to discover, develop, and implement strategies that support leaders and families to be healthy, disciple making people who lead healthy disciple making churches.
This year the team will strive to assist with African American work, a Hispanic institute, minister’s retreats, minister’s counseling and resolution and “Soul Care,” 24-hour retreats for small groups to be away and listen for the voice of God. The first will be the end of January and another is scheduled for March. Contact Randy Millwood if interested.
Thom Thornton, BCM/D missionary for adult and collegiate evangelism, reporting for the church services team said the group has been working together to redo collegiate ministry. He said the chaplaincy model has not been fruitful.
Thornton introduced Ron Yost, pastor of Cumberland Community Church. Yost initiated a partnership collegiate ministry at Frostburg College. Yost said a former ministry had dwindled and was unable to support even part-time ministry.
“We were not willing to see 20-somethings go to hell,” Yost said. “Our society has given up on those kids.”
Yost showed a video, fondly sharing about different students whose lives have been changed through the ministry.
Agencies and committees
Baptist Family & Children’s Services (BFCS) Executive Director Bob Gerstmyer said the agency received 51 calls from the referral line in November and they received 20 calls for assistance in the first four days of December. Through BFCS partnering with local churches, 1,500 children were projected to receive Christmas gifts through the annual Christmas stores.
Twenty-one families are receiving wraparound case management services. Two are in transitional housing. A third transitional home will be available early 2009. BFCS is also working to coordinate community services in the Pen Lucy community.
BFCS in Delaware is continuing to pursue licensing for its CHOSEN Program.
Tom Stolle reported for the Baptist Foundation on behalf of Bill Peacock. Stolle reported that church loans account for $3 million dollars. Every year, Stolle said, the foundation gets great pleasure distributing the income earned from these loans to BCM/D and 100 percent of the funds are used to start and strengthen churches. In 2008 the Foundation presented a check to BCM/D for $171,068.56.
David Lee, on behalf of the Affiliation Committee, recommended the GMB approve the affiliation of Powerhouse Church, Upper Marlboro, Md. The church ministers to immigrants from East Africa, mostly from Kenya. Services are in English and Swahili. The congregation began in 2002 and are dually affiliated with the D.C. Convention. GMB members unanimously approved the recommendation.
Remarks from BCM/D president
Newly elected BCM/D president Byron Day, pastor of Emmanuel Church, Laurel, in his first address to the General Mission Board, thanked messengers for allowing him to serve and said he looks forward to working with the BCM/D staff.
“God has a plan for all of our lives,” Day said, adding that He directs our steps for His will for such a time as this.
Day said he didn’t seek out the position as BCM/D president, others encouraged him. Day said he had a discussion with the Lord about it.
“He usually wins,” Day said with a smile.
“I go where He tells me to go and say what He wants me to say,”
Day said he has a desire for unity. “We are a diverse convention with many ethnic groups and races working together. We can show the world what it looks like,” he said.
He said he played basketball in high school. On a sports team everyone must put the team first to win the game.
Day referenced Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing of selfish ambition…” (NIV) and Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” (NIV).
“Have you really died? Have you put yourself aside for the glory of God?” Day challenged.
Day committed to pray for BCM/D staff members daily and asked that they pray for him also.