By Sharon Mager
OCEAN CITY, Md. — Three hundred ninety-two messengers and ninety-four guests met at the oceanfront Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel in Ocean City, Maryland on Nov. 10 and 11 for the 184th Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s (BCM/D) Annual Meeting. This year’s theme was “Maryland, Delaware, and the Nations for Christ’s Glory!” During short business sessions, messengers re-elected officers and adopted the 2020 budget. This year’s streamlined meeting focused on encouraging pastors, especially those in declining or plateauing churches.
In welcoming messengers and guests, BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith said, to responding applause, “Let us come together and say, ‘Jesus is Lord, and He is worthy to be praised.'”
Keynote speakers were Mark Clifton, the senior director of Replant, North American Mission Board (NAMB); Thom Rainer, the Founder and CEO of Church Answers; and James Merritt, the host of Touching Lives and pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia.
Sam Rainer, the pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church in Bradenton, Florida, and president of Church Answers, led two breakout sessions.
Meeting highlights included the popular annual unity lunch, a NAMB Young Leaders discussion panel with an “Ocean City-Flavored Fellowship” featuring local treats, and thirteen breakout sessions.
David Aubrey, the pastor of Cornerstone Church, in Dover, Delaware, and the church’s praise team led music and worship, mixing contemporary songs with classic hymns.
Messengers unanimously re-elected convention officers: president, Harold Phillips, senior pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Port Deposit, Maryland; first vice president, Glenn Swanson, senior pastor of Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland.; second vice president, Andy Ehlers, senior pastor of High Tide Baptist Church, in Dagsboro, Delaware; recording secretary, Stephanie Laferriere, a member of The Garden Church in Baltimore; and assistant recording secretary, Mike Fillis, pastor of Fenwick Island Baptist Church, in Selbyville, Delaware.
Frank Duncan, senior pastor of Paramount Baptist Church in Hagerstown, Maryland, and president of the General Mission Board (GMB), referred to BCM/D’s Skycroft Conference Center in Middletown, Maryland, and called it a blessing, noting 51 professions of faith at Skycroft in 2019.
Duncan emphasized the convention’s support for church strengthening and planting.
With another unanimous vote, messengers adopted the $7,659,249 budget that includes $2,285,950 in total receipts for Skycroft Conference Center. Additional
budget receipts include an anticipated $3,650,000 in Cooperative Program (CP) gifts from churches, $150,000 in State Missions Offering, and $980,000 from the North American Mission Board.
The 2020 budget represents a 1 percent increase compared to 2019. It allocates 48 percent of CP receipts to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries, unchanged from last year.
Harold Phillips shared from Joshua 6, which tells of God’s command to Joshua to lead the Israelites in crossing the Jordan River to the promised land.
“Pastors, pastors’ wives, members, the battle is God’s. He has already won,” Phillips said. God needs those like Joshua to have the faith to walk the road, discerning God’s will in obedience.
Mark Clifton shared that, for most of his ministry, he didn’t acknowledge his depression and anxiety until leaders brought it to his attention.
“You are in a spiritual war. He (Satan) will come at you with finances, health, your children, your marriage — everything,” Clifton warned.
The solution, he said, is not trying harder, working harder, going to another conference, trying to model yourself after someone else. “It’s realizing you serve the risen Lord, who has already defeated Satan,” he emphasized.
Thom Rainer said God is calling churches to wake up and reach people for Jesus; to move from a preference-driven church to a Great Commission church; for leaders to be an example in taking first steps for reaching others; and for Christians to respond — for Christians today to obey and fear the Lord.
James Merritt, quoting a line from the movie “Gladiator,” said, “What we do in life echoes through eternity.”
“The greatest impact you’ll ever make with your life is to be open to caring for the needs of others and realizing that the greatest thing we have is God and to be able to share God with those who don’t know him.” Merritt stated.
The BCM/D 2020 annual meeting will be at Covenant Baptist Church in Shepherdstown, WV on November 8 and 9, 2020.