By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
OCEAN CITY, Md.— Messengers at the Baptist Convention of Maryland Delaware’s 176th annual meeting approved a budget increasing CP giving by two percent for 2012 with a one percent yearly increase until 2020 and a resolution in support of biblically-defined traditional marriage.
Three hundred sixty-eight messengers and 93 visitors gathered at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel in Ocean City on Nov. 13-15 for the annual meeting. The theme was “Connect for life change: making disciples.” In addition to the general sessions, the meeting included break-out sessions, brunches, fellowship dinners and an exhibit hall.
The first session included music by the Jubilation Orchestra, directed by Phil Respass, minister of music, Friendship Church, Sykesville. International Mission Board Missionaries Quinn and Martha Morgan introduced 2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!” (NIV). Missionaries, pastors and lay leaders shared the same scripture at each session, in different languages and translations. Musician Niomi Wilson, Zion Hill Church, Atlanta, Ga., sang a soulful melody of “I love you Lord,” “We Exalt Thee,” and “I Really Love the Lord.”
Paige Patterson, president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, spoke on “Surprises in the Great Commission.”
“The federal government might think it has power…but that’s nothing compared to the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Patterson said.
Don’t be afraid to witness for the risen Christ, Patterson told messengers.
The BCM/D Chorale and the Jubilation Orchestra gave a passionate presentation of “Experiencing God.” The program featured solos, duets and trios along with the full chorale. Music included, “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” “My Abba’s Child,” “On My Knees,” and “When,” under the leadership of arranger/producer Dave Williamson. Messengers gave a standing ovation.
“If you haven’t experienced God, you have a serious problem because He’s been here,” BCM/D President Ken Stalls said. “It’s been something special.”
Jonathan Kempson, musician, First Church, Waldorf, led messengers in praise on Monday morning, singing “How Marvelous,” “Blessed Be Your Name,” and “Our God.”
Joseph Yoon, senior pastor of Abundant-Life Korean Church, Severna Park, shared the Scripture.
Steve Wright, Inquest Ministries, pastor of Family Discipleship at Providence Church, Raleigh, N.C., shared on the topic of “The Future of Youth Ministry.”
Student ministry of the future must wage war on its knees,” Wright told messengers. There was a time, he admitted, when he wanted to “ramp it up,” and make it “more fun” with better entertainment, celebrities and activities until he discovered student ministry is a war.
“This battle is for the souls of men and women,” he said. “Student ministry of the future must be focused on an enduring faith,” Wright continued. Paul told Timothy he would be persecuted. Students must understand they are to endure to the end.
Student ministry of the future partners with parents. “If we can’t get mom and dad to share their testimony in the home with their children, the hope of the Gospel being proclaimed outside the four walls has very little chance of happening,” Wright said.
Internationally known music group, Calling Levi, led worship from Monday through the meeting’s end on Tuesday afternoon. The group of four, two sisters and their husbands, shared a mix of well known hymns, praise music and original selections.
Montero Perez, Iglesia Nuevo Amanecer Ocean City, and Reid Sterrett, interim director of missions, Eastern Association, shared the scripture reading.
Mike McQuitty, BCM/D missionary for collegiate church planting and evangelism, enthusiastically shared recent successes in collegiate ministry. McQuitty told of a new young adult outreach at First Southern Church, Dover; about students at Morgan State College ministering to Muslims and about collegiate ministries emphasizing the mobilization of students to be involved in church planting.
Jerome Gay, lead pastor, Vision Church, Raleigh, N.C., speaking on “incarnational missionaries” told messengers “‘‘Missionality’ is the personality of the believer. It’s not what we are, but who we are.”
Paul Mulani, BCM/D language ministry coordinator and Bucas Sterling, senior pastor of Kettering Church, Upper Marlboro, shared the scripture.
In the first election of officers, Tom Smith, pastor of First Church, Hagerstown, nominated current BCM/D President and senior pastor of South End Church, Frederick, Ken Stalls, for a second term. Messengers unanimously re-elected Stalls.
Stalls brought the evening message entitled, “Whachamakin?” Stalls, in his slow southern drawl, told of a little boy seeing his father working and asking, “Daddy, whachamakin?” Stalls asked messengers, when it comes to disciples, “whachamakin?”
Stalls asked, what are we looking for – another Bill Hybels? David Platt? Billy Graham?
“I think we’re expecting too little,” Stalls said. “We’re called to make those new converts like Jesus Christ.” Stalls said God’s plan from the beginning was to “make man in our own image.”
“God sent his Son into the world to restore marred vessels like us,” he said.
Do we really believe Phil. 4:13? If we do, then we have no excuses. We must reflect Jesus Christ.
Regarding disciple-making, Stalls said, “We must help them know who Jesus is, what He’s like and portray Him through our lives every day,” Stall said. “Don’t aim low…aim for Jesus Christ. Settle for nothing else.
“How’re you doing? Wachamakin?”
Resort Minister Lynn Davis told messengers that resort ministry has touched approximately 5,000 international students. This year 49 different countries were represented, she said. The students are intelligent, speaking five to six different languages.
“We want to develop friendships with them, get to know them, and allow them to get to know each other,” Davis said. Eastern Association churches partner with Davis to serve meals to the students, mingle with them and get to know them and ultimately share Christ with them.
“It’s exciting, like watching a little world community come together and become friends,” Davis said. They’ve even had the opportunity to see students whose countries don’t get along in their homelands sit down and play games together. They’ve had Muslims attend church and even play with praise bands. Davis said through resort ministry the students have an opportunity to safely ask questions about the Trinity, why there are so many Christian denominations, and other topics they’re curious about. The students ask for Bibles and they’re excited to read them because oftentimes they can’t in their own country. One young Russian made a confession of faith while in Ocean City and went back to Russia and started a church.
Davis follows up through various means, including Facebook.
An offering was taken up for this ministry.
David Lee told messengers in the annual Executive Director’s message, that he was a student who liked tests in school. He shared a “test” with messengers.
Lee gave messengers several multiple choice questions: In Matthew 28, Jesus says to go and make disciples. Which is the most strategic? a. go make, b. baptize, c. teach to obey, d. all of the above. In Acts 1:8 does Jesus says witness in: a. Jerusalem, b. Samaria, c. the ends of the earth, d. all of the above, e. none of the above. We know the answers, Lee said.
“Jesus is commissioning us to do it all. It’s not a pick and choose, either/or,” Lee said.
“Missionaries are my heroes. I place them on a pedestal,” Lee said. But they couldn’t be there without pastors, like you, who faithfully encourage your congregations to give.
“Those who built the infrastructure of the Cooperative Program were geniuses.”
We are people under a great commission, Lee said.
NAMB says its priority is on planting churches. I say, “Praise the Lord.”
“We must dream boldly about starting new churches while this level of help is available.
Lee said we must also expand our emphasis on church revitalization, especially targeting churches that are plateaued and declining.
Read Lee’s message in its entirety in the Perspectives of this issue or at bcmd.org.
Arnedo Cajayon, Philippines international Church and MD/DE WMU president Darline Ballou shared the final scripture reading of the meeting.
General Mission Board (GMB) president David Sandvick told messengers they can trust their board. “The issues we bring before you, anything we have decided, we have analyzed it. We are acting on behalf of messengers with integrity and with God’s best in mind.”
Messengers approved three GMB recommendations.
The first recommendation involved two changes to the bylaws, adding these words to Article II: “No church will have more than two representatives simultaneously elected to serve on BCM/D committees, the General Mission Board, or as trustees of a BCM/D institution or agency.”
The second recommendation was striking the word “directors” from Article 5, thus now reading, “Each member of the General Mission Board, and trustees of any agency of this Convention will be a member, for at least twelve months preceding election, of one church which cooperates with this Convention.”
Messengers approved the next two recommendations, accepting the BCM/D and Skycroft budgets.
Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle explained the BCM/D budget. Stolle said over 70 percent of BCM/D’s revenue is generated by Cooperative Program giving. The balance is received from the North American Mission Board or through designated giving.
Stolle said giving increased from 2003 to 2007 then dropped in 2008 due to the economic downturn. Stolle believes a leveling off may be occurring, but feels it’s prudent to project a slight decrease in receipts, therefore the proposed CP receipts for 2012 of $4.275 million is a slight reduction from $4.3 million in 2011.
The change includes a two percent increase in CP giving to SBC in conjunction with the move to increase CP giving by one percent until the year 2020, reaching the goal of keeping 49 percent in the state and 51 percent going to the SBC.
Reaching that goal is tied to churches increasing their giving as well.
“We want you to partner with us,” Stolle said.
Stolle reported that the BCM/D will be receiving $82,500 less in funding from NAMB in 2012, but said, “We are extremely thankful and appreciative for our partnership with NAMB,” Stolle said.
Stolle explained that the BCM/D budget reflects 40 percent being used for salaries. That, he said, is well below the 48 percent average church budgets attribute to salaries.
“Our missionaries actively serve your churches. A year and a half ago we sold our facilities. Our missionaries now work from home and in the field.”
Stolle said he lives in Delaware and has a wonderful opportunity to serve the Delaware and Eastern associations.
“We are doing more than we ever have to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ,” said Stolle. “The BCM/D owns its building. Only five percent of the budget is used for maintenance and related technology.”
Overall expenses were reduced from $6,238,355 in 2011 to $6,088,104 in the 2012 budget.
Stolle said that includes three fewer full-time staff positions, resulting in a reduction of $148,000. It also includes elimination of matching retirement contributions for qualifying church staff who elected to enroll in the annuity plan administered by Guidestone Financial Resources. The state convention was contributing $210 each year to 315 participants. That is a reduction of $66,000. The protection benefits including disability and survivor protection remain intact.
“We take very seriously the budget. Great care has been taken to present a thoughtful financial plan, designed to achieve the comprehensive mission to which God has called our convention,” Stolle said.
Jim Chevalier, pastor, Friendship Church, Newark, spoke against the recommendation and submitted a recommendation that would put the $66,000 back in the budget.
“I appreciate the energy you put into the budget,” Chevalier said, noting many pastors don’t have adequate funds to retire.
David Lee responded, explaining that “in the day,” Guidestone offered the extra money as an incentive to encourage ministers to use Guidestone to help with their retirement needs. When the economy began to weaken, Guidestone asked conventions to cover that amount. As the economy continued to weaken, Guidestone recommended conventions eliminate the incentive because it would just be too costly to continue. Other state conventions are also taking this step.
In addition, Lee said not all ministers were invested in Guidestone so some were receiving the extra funds and others weren’t. Lee also stated that someone would have to be invested for a long time to get a meaningful investment on that small yearly amount.
Bruce Gleason, pastor of administration and outreach at Allen Memorial Church, spoke against the recommendation to reinsert the $66,000, stating that if the funds are once again included in the budget there would have to be a cut somewhere, most likely a staff position.
The motion to amend the budget by reinserting $66,000 for supplement for staff retirement through the annuity board failed.
Messengers voted to approve the BCM/D and the Skycroft budgets.
In the second election of officers, Steve Hokoff, pastor of First Church, Northeast, nominated Ron Smith, senior pastor of Havre de Grace Church, as first vice-president. Smith won by acclamation.
Randy Gilliam, pastor of Barnesville Church, nominated Andrew Bell, pastor of Tabernacle Church, Essex, as second vice-president. Bell also won by acclamation.
Ken Stalls thanked Harold Phillips, former first vice-president and Jim Burcham, former second vice-president, for their service.
Messengers also voted to re-elect Gayle Clifton as recording secretary and Bill George as assistant recording secretary. Randy Gilliam nominated both men.
Larry Eubanks, senior pastor, First Church, Essex, gave the annual message. Eubanks told of his dad teaching him to tithe when Eubanks was a child and he told about the old envelopes recalling how the giver would check off answers to questions asking if he or she brought their Bible to church, read their lesson, invited a friend to church and whether he/she gave an offering.
Eubanks said the general idea was that all the training in the right “religious stuff” would instill certain daily things to do to bring a person closer to Jesus, but what happens, Eubanks said, is “the reason I do it is so I can be a person who does all this stuff.”
Eubanks said he began looking at the red letters – reading what Jesus said and, “He didn’t talk about doing ‘religious’ types of things.”
Eubanks said the first century Jew did those things. Jesus assumed they were doing it.
Even so, there was still a lot of trouble, Eubanks said. All of those disciplines had not led to transformed lives. In fact, the Pharisees did all those things–they were the best at doing them. But they were working against God’s agenda and not being very nice about it.
“Doing religious things without transformation makes religious bullies,” Eubanks said.
And today those bullies, he said, are not new Christians, they’re the ones who have been the leaders.
Eubanks said in 2005, he went to Vermont for two weeks to learn how to build acoustic guitars. There are a lot of ways to build them, he explained. Books and videos teach different methods. The guitar teacher had a certain way of building the guitars. Those who didn’t want to do it the teacher’s way were sent home. The only way to build the type of guitar the teacher built was to obey the teacher.
“We are apprentices of Jesus. We don’t tell Jesus how we want to be, Jesus tells us how it’s going to be. We don’t add him to our life, Jesus becomes our life,” Eubanks said.
The Greeks and Romans that lived in Jesus’ culture regularly practiced homosexuality, abortion and even infanticide. Jesus didn’t talk about those practices. We talk about them all the time, Eubanks said. We need to talk about the things Jesus talked about in the same proportion and what Jesus talked the most about was the kingdom of God, he said.
“We don’t talk about the kingdom of God,” Eubanks said. When we do, it’s usually referencing heaven. But Jesus talked about establishing the kingdom of God on earth.
“A disciple does what his teacher tells him to do.” Eubanks said he began a list of what Jesus told us to do: love your enemies and pray for them; be at peace; have compassion with the lowly; turn the other cheek; deny ourselves… Jesus took what he said very seriously and his followers must take seriously and do what Jesus said.”
David Lee and his wife, Sherry, recognized new staff and those celebrating ministry milestones, and they welcomed new ministers to the convention.
Doug DuBois, director of Skycroft Conference Center and missionary for student evangelism, was recognized for 15 years of service and David Jackson, church planting missionary, for ten years of service. Several are retiring at the end of this year and were honored for the time they served. Theresa Sassard,will retire as an employee of BCM/D after serving for 26 years, but will continue her ministry with the Baltimore Association. Ministry Assistant Linda Waggoner will retire after serving for 12 years. Executive Office Assistant Carol Moore is retiring after serving 30 years, the majority of that time serving as assistant to the executive director. She is currently serving David Lee.
Lee said, “There is no single individual who has had more impact on the work of the BCM/D than Carol Moore.”
“The BCM/D will always have a piece of my heart. It has been an honor and privilege to serve you,” she responded.
Lee introduced Robert Gerstmyer, executive director of Baptist Family & Children’s Services. Lee said, “Bob Gerstmyer has served for more than three decades. He has had a tremendous impact. God has used Bob to be a catalyst to bring the agency to where it is today.” Lee said Gerstmyer “takes off his coat and tie and gets in the trenches.”
Lee presented a painting to Gerstmyer, showing Jesus happily dancing with children. “It’s a good reflection of the ministry you have led so faithfully, and we want you to know how much we appreciate that,” Lee said.
Gerstmyer will retire in February 2012.
“It is with mixed feelings that I say goodbye. I am looking forward to planning and implementing my second childhood. I can’t wait. On the other hand, I will miss my staff, and the volunteers and the wonderful work they do on behalf of children and families each day.
“Last week, we approved our first Safe Family in Delaware (http://www.baptistfamily.org/safefamilies). They welcomed a 12-year-old girl whose mother is homeless. They are active in their church and the young girl is learning about Jesus and that she can trust Him for her salvation.
Gerstmyer told of other children placed in Safe Families and the churches that supported those families.
“That’s what I will miss. Some of God’s people who are taking seriously the call to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep themselves from being polluted by the world’s attitude of favoritism toward the rich and insults the poor… They are showing mercy and as a result they are being blessed.
Gerstmyer showed a video explaining the Safe Family program.
“You could’t give me a better retirement present than for 50 churches right here and right now to pledge to give three to five minutes in this worship service to show the video you just viewed,” Gerstmyer said. Hands went up throughout the ballroom.
“Have you received mercy? Be merciful,” Gerstmyer concluded.
Tom Stolle reported for the Baptist Foundation. Stolle said the Foundation currently provides loans for 19 churches. Interest income from the loans is used to start and strengthen churches within the BCM/D. Stolle, on behalf of the Foundation, presented David Lee with a check for $126,256.87 from the Foundation for the ministry work of the convention.
Stolle reminded messengers that the Foundation, through its Arthur Nanney Church Loan Fund, provides small emergency loans to churches.
In addition, the Foundation can help manage endowment funds for churches and help with stewardship training.
Gayla Parker and Darline Ballou reported for the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU). Parker stressed, the purpose of the WMU is to “challenge believers to understand and be radically changed.”
Ballou said, “Your WMU lives out missions.” Maryland/Delaware WMU women have been ministering in Dover, Del., the Philippines Moldova and Scotland.
WMU is also tackling difficult issues, including sex trafficking and human exploitation, a $35 billion dollar a year business.
“There are more slaves in the United States today because of forced labor or sex trafficking than prior to the civil war,” Parker said.
Parker urged messengers to check sites such as slaveryfootprint.com to see how many slaves are working for goods we use each day.
Thane Barnes, senior pastor of Faith Church, Glen Burnie, reported for the Resolutions Committee. Resolution One was “On Traditional Marriage.” Click here to read the full resolution.
The resolution states that God defined marriage as that between one man and one woman and that Maryland/Delaware Baptists have traditionally stood with the SBC in supporting that definition, and that a growing body of research points to the benefits of traditional marriage. The resolution also states that “Intrusive redefinitions of issues like traditional marriage by the government have historically trended toward eventual threat of religious liberties and local church ability for self-determination, notwithstanding governmental assurances to the contrary.”
The resolution restating longstanding support for the traditional definition of marriage resolves: “that we call on the state of Maryland to support the Family Law Code as it reads in November of 2011 which states, ‘Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state;’” that we encourage spiritual activities to promote and defend the traditional view of marriage…;” that we will encourage civic activities to promote and defend the traditional view of marriage; and “that we must proclaim love and compassion toward those who would differ in their opinions of marriage, allowing us to maintain a faithful Christian witness.”
Steve Hokuf, pastor, First Church, Northeast, spoke in favor of the resolution. “It is so important. If we fail in this regard the foundations of our very society will be threatened.”
Hokuf said the resolution should go to the governor’s office, representatives, delegates and senators.
Nathaniel Thomas, pastor of Forestville New Redeemer Church, agreed with Hokuf. “If this fight is lost, there would be a brand new redefinition that will devastate our families here in the state of Maryland.”
John Smith, pastor of First Church, Essex, and a member of the resolution committee said, “It is important that our voices be heard in the resolution, but it is even more important that your particular delegates and senators hear what you feel concerning this. It’s important for pastors to stand up. When they talk to a pastor they understand they’re not just speaking to one voter but to 100 or more.”
Mark Dooley, pastor of Leonardtown Church and a member of the resolutions committee, echoed Smith’s emphasis to be involved in civic activity. Messengers unanimously approved the resolution.
Messengers also approved a resolution of appreciation thanking Carol Moore for her three decades of ministry.
Michael Dawson, acting chair of the Christian Life and Public Affairs (CLPA) Committee, said the CLPA is working on developing a comprehensive call to action concerning sex trafficking to bring about freedom from the bondage of sin and fear and overbearing authority. Harold Phillips prayed for the new officers, asking God for courage and ability as they step forward to lead next year.
Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California, referencing the church in Antioch, told messengers that disciples, and all church resources, come from the harvest.
“Disciples come from the community of redeemed lost people in which your church is resident,” Iorg said.
“Teachers, deacons, whatever you need in church to sustain and enlarge its ministry is found not within the church but in the harvest. Go win more people to Jesus Christ. “
Ken Moss recognized parliamentarian Ken Moss, Faith Church, Glen Burnie, for his years of serving the convention at the meetings.
Stalls closed the annual meeting in prayer.
Next year’s meeting will be at Global Mission Church, Silver Spring, Md., Nov. 11-13, 2012.