By Sharon Mager
COLUMBIA, Md. — Members of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) General Mission Board met on September 10, at the BCM/D offices in Columbia, Maryland, and approved the 2020 budget. Messengers will vote on the final budget at the BCM/D’s annual meeting, November 10-11, at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel in Ocean City, Maryland. The GMB Administrative Committee also announced their approval to hire David Hall, former pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Bel Air, Maryland, as a contracted part-time BCM/D church services consultant.
BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith welcomed members and then led in singing the Doxology, and “Glory to His Name.”
GMB President Frank Duncan opened the meeting, reading Psalm 126.
“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy. Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord had done great things for us; we were joyful. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like watercourses in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.”
Duncan prayed, “Heavenly Father, You are Lord of the harvest, and we are so thankful you have called us to yourself and redeemed us with the blood of your Son, and you have called us into the work of your field. We pray that the result of this convention and this GMB, and all that we strive to do will bring forth an abundant harvest for you.”
Executive Director’s Report
Executive Director Kevin Smith encouraged GMB members to plan to attend the BCM/D annual meeting.
The meeting, he said, will focus on encouraging pastors and churches going through challenging situations.
Guest speakers Thom Rainer, Sam Rainer, James Merritt, and Mark Clifton, Smith said, will challenge and encourage attendees, and will be a blessing. There are numerous breakout topics including Church Revitalization, Health Insurance — What Churches Need to Know, Social Media, Raising Children While in the Christian Ministry, and many others. The Unity Lunch is another highlight of the annual meeting.
The general session will end at 4 p.m. on Monday, followed by dinner breakout sessions from 4 to 6 p.m. Smith encouraged attendees to stay an extra night, if possible, to enjoy a time of fellowship. (See more about the meeting and register on the BCM/D’s website.)
Smith, speaking about international missions, shared that he is excited about the BCM/D’s partnership with the Gucha Central Baptist Association, located in Kisii County, part of the Baptist Convention of Kenya.
Referring to the recent summer trip to Kenya, Smith said, “Pleasant View Baptist Church had a wonderful team. We had a great time and a fruitful ministry.” The upcoming fall trip will focus on VBS outreach to children.
Smith referred to the Back-to-School Camp, a BCM/D pilot program which occurred at Skycroft Conference Center in August. He explained that children are sometimes in situations where teachers or parents don’t consistently encourage academic achievement. Back-to-School Camp is designed to incorporate times of academic preparation and encouragement, in addition to Bible study, worship, and recreation. Smith hopes to develop and expand the camp in the future.
He also discussed the recent SENDRelief health screening clinics, provided through partnership with the BCM/D and hosted by local churches in strategic locations. Volunteer medical professionals offered free medical screenings and church members contributed support in greeting, registration, childcare, and follow-up. The clinics provided fresh opportunities for churches to reach out to their communities.
Associate Executive Director Tom Stolle reported Cooperative Program (CP) receipts for the seven months ended July 31, 2019 totaled $2,116,123.46, exceeding last year by $77,624.63 or 3.8%.
“We’re thankful for the Lord’s faithfulness as He continues to bless and we’re thankful for your churches as they continue to invest in ministry through the CP,” Stolle told GMB members.
For the seven months ended July 31, 2019, results have yielded a deficit of $11,174.58. Stolle said management expects that operations will approximately break-even at year-end, assuming that CP receipts track on budget.
Skycroft Conference Center receipts through the seven months ended July 31, 2019 total $1,494,737.35. Although camp receipts approximate budget, general user fees are running behind, which means that fewer guests than anticipated have registered to stay at Skycroft. Stolle said management is exploring ways to raise additional revenue during non-summer months.
Disbursements during the same period total $1,169,348.19, equivalent to only 51.47 percent of the budget. Not all expenses accumulate evenly, as a higher percentage of certain costs are incurred in the summer months when more guests are on the campus. Expenses related to summer camp will be recognized in August.
The sizeable bottom line, totaling $325,389.16 as of July 31, represents camp receipts before expenses. Management anticipates Skycroft will break even at year-end, barring an unplanned loss of days due to inclement weather.
“If you have retreats or planning meetings, I would ask you to consider booking space at Skycroft, particularly in November, December, and February, when there is less demand. It would help the operation,” Stolle said.
“Skycroft is one of the most evangelistic tools in the convention. Many young people come to Christ or make recommitments to Christ at Skycroft, and we’re thankful for that.”
Stolle reported that affiliated churches contributed $137,455.30 to last year’s State Missions Offering, to fund the designated and approved initiatives of Skycroft Evangelism, Church Planting, Collegiate Ministry, Special Needs Ministry, and Disaster Relief. To date, the convention has expended $69,501.34 or 46.33 percent of these funds. “Every dollar will be spent on approved or designated ministries,” Stolle emphasized.
In summary, Stolle said, “The BCM/D is in a good ready-cash position with its bills paid in full and on time.”
GMB members unanimously approved a 2020 BCM/D operating budget of $5,223,299, a Skycroft budget of $2,285,950, and a State Missions Offering budget totaling $150,000. Messengers will vote on the budget at the BCM/D annual meeting in November.
Stolle, presenting the budget, reported that approximately 68 percent of revenue, or $3,650,000, is from designated CP giving.
Currently, the BCM/D sends 48 percent of CP dollars to SBC. The 2020 split is budgeted to remain the same.
In addition to CP dollars, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) provides 18 percent of the budgeted income, or $980,000.
The remaining 13 percent of income is from other sources, including endowments and additional partnerships.
In conjunction with the budget report, Mark Dooley, BCM/D state director of evangelism, shared about the church services team and discussed future strategies and events.
Dooley said church services consultants are continually striving to meet pastors and build relationships. Consultants will be strategically reaching out by association to ensure more churches are covered. “We’re trying to touch as many churches as we can,” Dooley said.
Successful evangelism events that will continue in 2020 include the Healthy Leaders tour, Preaching Roundtables, and the Pastor Date Night.
Stolle, reporting on church planting for Michael Crawford, state director of missions, said $987,300 is budgeted for starting churches, developing planters, planter care, coaching, planter affirmation, and staff support. Stolle said NAMB’s contribution to the budget supports most of the church planting expenses.
Messengers will see the complete budget at the annual meeting.
Baptist Foundation President Carl Tilghman stated in a written report that 14 churches currently have outstanding loans. The income earned from the church loan fund is distributed annually to the BCM/D to start and strengthen churches. Management estimates that the income to be distributed to the BCM/D for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019 will total between $95,000 to $110,000.
Four churches have outstanding loans from the Arthur Nanney church loan fund. The Arthur Nanney fund was established in 2006. This fund is used for small, emergency loans to churches.
As of June 30, 2019, the market value of the investment portfolio was $9,390,885.
The most recent calendar quarter portfolio performance reflected a return of 13.5 percent. The one-year performance reflected a return of 7.0 percent and the three-year return totaled 8.8 percent.
Skycroft Study Committee Report
Stolle shared the Skycroft Study Committee Report on behalf of Chairman Tim Simpson.
He explained that the committee is charged with helping management care for the 40-year-old facility, which encompasses 16 buildings on almost 300 acres. Repairs and maintenance are an ongoing reality at a facility of this size.
The committee recommended that Skycroft Director Emily Reedy share at the Annual Meeting about her love of Skycroft and how God has blessed her and others through camp ministry.
BCM/D President Harold Phillips quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (KJV)
“It’s turning from our wicked ways, getting the ear of God, being able to be a people that refuses to be bound up with bondage … being able to be free to serve the Lord. Being free of all that earthly selfishness … there’s a power in that,” he said.
“If you want the power of God in your prayer life, in your personal life, then there’s a transformation that’s got to take place in your commitment to Christ and in your repentance. The power before God Almighty … to be able to make mountains move and storms change direction is in the power of the trust that God has in his people.”