Crawford’s First Address to GMB as Executive Director

COLUMBIA, Md. — Michael Crawford addressed the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) General Mission Board (GMB) on May 10 — his first time as the executive director. Crawford enthusiastically shared about the convention’s “Pathways” initiative in protecting the vulnerable regarding sexual abuse and explained changes to the BCM/D’s annual meeting in November, as well as other modifications and transitions.

Meeting at the BCM/D offices in Columbia, GMB members kicked off the meeting with a time of praise and worship led by Paramount Baptist Church’s Worship Leader Josh Fields. GMB President Byron Day followed, welcoming members.

Day shared that he recently returned from a trip to southern Africa, where he had the opportunity to see Victoria Falls. “It reminded me of when the scripture talks about God’s voice like the mighty waters. When you hear those waters hitting the rocks, it’s unlike anything you’ve heard before. It is just amazing and brings the scriptures alive. How Great is Our God; how awesome is our God,” Day said, echoing the last of the songs Fields led.

 Scripture Reading

BCM/D President Glenn Swanson said he loves the book of Acts, stating that it reminds us how to be the church by modeling the first church. He referenced Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

“Think about that,” challenged Swanson. “That’s the mission of us as the church, as the convention, as Christians, that we go out into all the world — our own Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all the ends of the earth.

“Acts 2:42 says, ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.’”

Swanson said, “This especially hit me this last year as we have come out of Covid. We’re all devoted to something or someone. I’ve been challenging my church, and I challenge you all, let us keep our devotion where it needs to be — on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have no greater news in the whole world than to share that we serve a risen savior.

“Be devoted to Jesus Christ.”

Financial Report

BMC/D Associate Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle shared the financial report.

Referring to the operating income statement, Stolle said Cooperative Program (CP) receipts for the four months ended April 30, 2022, total $1,197,848.36. This is $59,113.78 or 5.2% ahead of last year-to-date (YTD) actual results. Receipts are also ahead of the YTD budget by $31,181.69 or 2.7%.

North America Mission Board (NAMB) receipts total $209,250.00 and are behind budget at about 22%. This is not a concern as management expects that the funds will be expended and collected as appropriate for ministry. Stolle said this represents a timing issue.

All major expense areas except for Cooperative Missions and Church Services are running below YTD budget.

The Cooperative Missions overage is directly related to the higher than budgeted CP funds collection compared to budget. Church Services is running slightly ahead of budget due to both evangelism and church strengthening expenses running slightly ahead of budget YTD, most notably related to evangelism grants requested by churches and the pastor appreciation event held early in 2022. Church Services expenses are expected to be within budget at the 2022 year-end.

Stolle reported the bottom line shows a deficit of $(60,958.85). Management believes break-even for the year is possible, but CP will have to approach budgeted levels, and staff will have to hold the line on expenditures. A deficit of this size at this point in the calendar year is not unusual.

Regarding the State Missions Offering, Stolle reported the offering has declined in receipts over the last few years. He shared that $94,806.55 collected will support Special Needs, Disaster Relief, and Skycroft. Of the $31,754.28 expended year-to-date, most has been utilized to support Skycroft Conference Center.

Stolle, reporting on the Skycroft financials, reported receipts totaling $559,605.70 are running slightly behind the YTD budget by $(27,712,63). Expenses totaling $439,873.52 are running behind budget as well. While fewer guests equate to lower receipts, it also results in lower expenses.

The Skycroft bottom line for the four months ended April 30, 2022, is a $119,732.18 net surplus. Stolle said the financials will become more stressed as we leave summer. Management believes the conference center will end the year with a deficit, and it could be substantial with the possibility of needing dollars from reserves to cover the expended cash.

Stolle said the BCM/D is in a good ready cash position with its bills paid in full and on time.

Foundation Report

Stolle reported on the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware on behalf of Foundation President Stacy Boyles.

Fourteen churches have outstanding loans from the church loan fund. Church loan fund income will be distributed to the BCM/D to start and strengthen churches once the Foundation’s fiscal year concludes as of September 30, 2022. Management currently anticipates this distribution to approximate $95,000 – $105,000.

Five churches have outstanding loans from the Arthur Nanney church loan fund. Established in 2006, the fund is used for small, emergency loans to churches.

As of March 31, 2022, the market value of the investment portfolio was $11,171,325.50. Year-to-date portfolio performance reflected a return of 1.9%.  The one-year performance reflected a return of 9.7%, and the three-year return totaled 8.8%.

The Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware is positioned to manage endowment funds for churches and associations while saving them money on administration. Additionally, the foundation provides education to churches highlighting both a Christian’s responsibility to be a faithful steward as well as various options available to financially give to the Lord’s work both in life and after death.

Visit the Baptist Foundation website to learn more.

President’s Address

BCM/D President Glenn Swanson shared that he was encouraged by the recent Special Needs Conference sponsored by the BCM/D, The Banquet NetworkCresthill Church, and The Gathering Place Church; and also BCM/D’s recent Pathways Conference. Both were encouraging and helpful, he said.

Swanson encouraged members to be faithful in prayer. Often, we get discouraged when prayer meetings are the least attended, he said. At Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach, where Swanson pastors, they have a “Spurgeon Prayer Room.” Swanson related the well-known story of Charles H. Spurgeon regarding the famous “boiler room.” A group of young men visited Spurgeon’s church on a hot July day and were met by a man who told them that before they did anything, he was going to take them to the boiler room. They reluctantly followed, and when the man opened the door, there were hundreds of people in a room praying. Then the “doorman” introduced himself as Spurgeon and told them, “This is where the work of the church starts.”

Swanson said, “Always, my vision, my heart is that when you have some type of ministry — on Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, whenever you’re meeting — that someone is praying over your services during that time.”

Swanson related a quote by his daughter’s father-in-law, Bruce Lungren, who, with his wife Lauren, serves as a missionary in Quebec — “If God were to radically answer your prayers today, would they change anyone’s life but your own?”

 “Keep praying for lost souls, for those who need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ,” Swanson urged members.

Constitution and Bylaws Committee

Crawford reported for the Constitution and Bylaws Committee on behalf of Chairman Fred Caudle. “We had a really healthy, robust discussion about constitutional issues. We’re trying to look at the constitution to make sure it is serving us and not us serving it,” he said. The team is evaluating what is needed, what is not, and what changes are needed.

Sexual Abuse Task Force

Crawford shared his vision for the Pathways initiative, which is designed to equip churches to prevent and protect the vulnerable from abuse. “The vision in the convention, from my perspective, is a family of churches committed to cultivating a culture where vulnerable people are cared for, healed, thrive, and are protected.

“In my eight years here, this is one of the things I’m most proud of,” Crawford said, adding that the BCM/D’s Sexual Abuse Task Force is doing an incredible job of leading and providing information. He encouraged GMB members to attend the next Pathways training event on June 4 at Mountain City Church in Frostburg.

“We protect what we value; that’s just reality,” Crawford said.

Crawford said the convention wants to help facilitate not just mechanisms but a culture where vulnerable people, whether adults or children, are protected.

Stolle added that the task force is meeting with others throughout the nation who want to talk to the Maryland/Delaware team to better develop and implement strategies to equip churches. He said he does not believe the emphasis will end when churches adopt policies and procedures. “It’s one thing to add policies and procedures. It’s another thing to have a culture where you’re really protecting the vulnerable.”

Executive Director’s Report

Crawford, officially addressing the GMB as executive director, provided information about the upcoming annual meeting on November 6-7 in Ocean City. The theme will be “Mobilizing Churches for Missions.”  In preparation, Crawford announced a Sept. 22 BCM/D Town Hall meeting at Bethany Church, Columbia. “We’re not going to wait until the annual meeting and spring a lot of information on you. We’ll do it at the town hall. The goal is to go into this year’s annual meeting prepared and informed. We can’t over-communicate.”

Crawford said the meeting would be celebratory. Department reports will be in the book, not presented. There will be testimonies and praises. “We want everyone to walk away and say, ‘Wow, the Lord is doing amazing things in our churches.’”

The new executive director wants people to say, “God is doing amazing things. I know who we are and where we are going, and I’m really glad I’m a part of this.”

Crawford said pastors and wives are the number-one people served in this convention. He said often, pastors are considered the top priority, and wives sometimes get left out. “I want to get the message out that pastors AND wives matter.”

Looking ahead at future plans, Crawford said there are 465 churches in the BCM/D according to SBC records. Crawford said he wants to confirm that number and help determine needs through a convention-wide assessment. Staff will be working to contact every church to identify needs so the BCM/D can address them.”

Crawford also wants to know how many people are attending the churches. “That’s important; that’s our constituency.

“I want the pulse of the convention. We want them to tell us what they need, and then we serve them well.” Crawford said he also wants to meet with the directors of missions to identify their challenges.

Additionally, Crawford said that by partnering with NAMB, he wants to see every association prepared for disaster. “We want every association ready and fueled so in an instant they can “go.” What happens if and when the next big one comes up the coast? We want to be mobilized and ready, he said.

Regarding transitions, Crawford shared about the communications department restructure. Reginald Davis has resigned as Creative Director, and Kris Buckman is serving as interim communications director. Crawford shared that Megan Jones, a member of Freedom Church, will take on the role of communications director in June. Jones will work with Buckman through a transition period.

“Our passion is to capture the stories of what God is doing in our churches. The church is the hero, not the convention,” Crawford said.

Crawford also led a time of extensive discussion about challenges regarding Skycroft, including septic infrastructure repair or replacement and post-covid recovery.

Finally, he discussed restructuring future GMB meetings to provide ample time to cover business concerns that need additional discussion.

Presentation to Iris

Iris White, who serves as BCM/D finance office coordinator and GMB secretary, will be retiring in mid-June. Stolle, on behalf of the GMB, presented White with a large bouquet of flowers.

Crawford said there would be a more significant celebration at the annual meeting.

Prayer Room

The meeting concluded at the newly designated prayer room in the executive office. Formerly the executive director’s office, Crawford has repurposed the area with a big whiteboard where he invites visitors to share prayer requests — no matter how bold. And the room will be available for a time to just be still and pray.

As the meeting came to a close, GMB members took turns praying for churches, the convention, Crawford, and other BCM/D leadership, and for the salvation of souls.

Sharon Mager is a BCM/D communication specialist.