By Sharon Mager

COLUMBIA, Md.—At the Dec. 6 General Mission Board (GMB) meeting at the Baptist Center in Columbia, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware Executive Director Kevin Smith told GMB members he will continue to emphasize church strengthening and will work with leaders to articulate the church planting vision and strategy in 2017.

In addition, Smith said he would meet with directors of missions early in the coming year to continue to develop those relationships.

During a question and answer time, Smith affirmed that BCM/D staff would be having regular interaction with pastors to better serve churches.

Asked about collegiate ministry, Smith said it is a high priority. In response to North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) emphasis on church planting and pulling back on collegiate ministry, Blake Hardcastle is transitioning from collegiate minister to being a ministry catalyst for collegiate evangelism in the churches.

Budget and Financial Report
Tom Stolle, reported Cooperative Program (CP) receipts for the ten months ended October 31, 2016 trailed the year-to-date budget by $(206,477) or (5.3) percent. Receipts also trailed last year by $(162,220) for the same time period. Stolle said that management currently anticipates CP receipts to end 2016 at a level approximating $3,675,000. Receipts from the NAMB will end the year approximating budget.

Regarding disbursements, all major expense categories are well within budget limits with the exception of church multiplication. This area is 1.3 percent over budget year-to-date; however, it is primarily due to additional dollars funding church plants as per NAMB’s commitment to send more funding began Oct. 1. So although we will see an expense increase within the department, we should see a corresponding revenue increase as well.

Stolle said that as of the ten months ended Oct. 31, 2016 operations has generated a deficit of $(28,704). Management still believes that a break-even year-end is still likely assuming CP receipts run at consistent levels the remainder of the year.

The State Mission Offering Income Statement shows receipts of $138,594 to fund the current year initiatives. Any unspent dollars will be placed in trust for use for 2017 initiatives.

Skycroft Conference Center is performing well, Stolle said.

“Strong receipts year-to-date have helped propel Skycroft to a net surplus of $112,120 as of Oct. 31.” Stolle said management anticipates a break even level by year-end for the conference center. On-budget general user fees and strong camp attendance has been key.

Reviewing the balance sheet, Stolle said the BCM/D is in a good ready cash position with its bills paid in full and on time. Current reserve levels total $2,401,143. Funds designated for a specific purpose total $696,618, and of that amount $224,393 is specifically designated for church planting.

Baptist Foundation
Stolle, reporting for the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware, said 15 churches have outstanding loans from the church loan fund. Income earned for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 totaled $113,875. The income was distributed to the BCM/D to start and strengthen churches. Churches that receive strengthening church grants benefit from this fund.

Three churches have outstanding loans from the Arthur Nanney church loan fund.

Regarding investment balances and market performance, as of Sept. 30, the market value of the investment portfolio was $7,344.238. The most recent calendar quarter portfolio performance reflected a return of 3.3 percent. The one-year performance reflected a return of 8.9 percent and the three-year return totaled 5.3 percent. For more information, visit www.bcmd.org/baptist-foundation.

Other Business
In other business, messengers approved sending a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump on behalf of the BCMD’s 620 churches, asking him to be accountable in promoting people to the federal bench who would be consistently pro-life, and to abolish the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits political speech by certain tax-exempt organizations, most notably churches. See full letter on page 3.

President’s Remarks
BCM/D President Mike Trammell said the world is bombarded with messages of materialism during the Christmas season.

Trammell said we are drawn to John 1:14, a beautiful verse of the incarnation, but he encouraged pastors to begin with John 1:1 to lay the foundation and give perspective.

The verse, Trammell said, shows that Jesus is eternally God, equally God, and essentially God.

“These truths need to be preached over and over. There are always new people, people growing that weren’t growing before…tell people these things about Jesus,” he said.

“We can never assume people know who Jesus is.”