GMB members approve 2023 budget and constitutional changes

COLUMBIA, Md. — Members of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) General Mission Board (GMB) met on September 15 at the BCM/D offices. Members approved the 2023 BCM/D operating budget of $7,142,675, including a Convention (non-Skycroft) amount of $5,031,072 and a Skycroft Conference Center budget of $2,111,603. They also approved two constitutional changes. Messengers will vote on the budget and constitution changes at the BCM/D annual meeting on November 6-7 in Ocean City. 

BCM/D President Glenn Swanson shares a devotional at the beginning of the GMB meeting.

Following a devotional led by BCM/D President Glenn Swanson, Executive Director Michael Crawford presented certificates of appreciation to the outgoing GMB members and led messengers in a shared prayer session.

Financial Report

Associate Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle, presenting the financial report, said Cooperative Program (CP) receipts for the eight months ended August 31, 2022, totaled $2,223,338.54. These receipts exceeded the eight months ended August 31, 2021, by 2.5% but trail the year-to-date (YTD) budget by 4.7%. Another key component of income was received from the North American Mission Board (NAMB). For the eight months ended August 31, 2022, the BCM/D recognized $419,750 income from NAMB as support for church planting and evangelism efforts. This trails budget year-to-date by 32.8%. Stolle said this is largely due to having fewer funded planters than expected.All major expense areas except for convention operations are running below the YTD budget. The emphasis on the Pathways Events, which help to train and equip churches to protect children and vulnerable adults, has contributed to the slight budget variance, along with increased equipment costs.The bottom line shows a YTD deficit of $(233,543.86). Management believes breakeven for the year is possible, but CP will have to approach budgeted levels, and staff will have to hold the line on expenditures.

State missions offering totaled $94,806.55. This designated offering funds three 2022 initiatives: disability ministry, BCM/D Ready (which encompasses and expands Disaster Relief to include sociological, economic and community crises), and Skycroft Conference Center. The $50,607.77 expended year-to-date has been utilized to support Skycroft and disability ministries. Management anticipates that the remaining funds will be used to support BCM/D Ready as we move into hurricane season and prepare for other future disasters.Regarding Skycroft Conference Center, receipts for the eight months ended August 31, 2022, totaled $1,484,998.80, which is well ahead of the YTD budget. Stronger than anticipated camp registrations were a contributing factor. Camp registrations exceeded 2019 pre-pandemic levels. Expenses are also running ahead of budget.For the eight months ended August 31, 2022, the net surplus totaled $132,952.34, but management believes that the financials will become more stressed as summer and camp activities have concluded, with the conference center ending the year with a deficit. However, Stolle said the stronger than anticipated camp attendance may mitigate the deficit as we rebuild from the impact of the pandemic. The BCM/D will emphasize sales and development for Skycroft Conference Center in 2023.

Baptist Foundation Report

Stolle presented the Baptist Foundation report on behalf of Foundation President Stacy Boyles. Thirteen churches have outstanding loans from the church loan fund. The Foundation annually distributes the income from these loans to the BCM/D to start and strengthen churches. Management anticipates this distribution to approximate $100,000-$110,000.

Associate Executive Director Tom Stolle shares the financial report. (photo by Sharon Mager)

Six churches have outstanding loans from the Arthur Nanney fund, established in 2006 for small, emergency loans to churches.

As of June 30, 2022, the market value of the investment portfolio was $9,373,462.40. In 2022, the market has experienced a reduction in value. The one-year performance reflected a return of 15.6%, and the three-year return totaled 3.6%.

Executive Director Report

Crawford shared information from recent church assessments and highlighted the upcoming Town Hall meeting, the BCM/D Annual Meeting and BCM/D Ready before introducing the 2023 budget.

He read result highlights of an assessment report recently completed through a series of questions consultants asked churches. Almost 400 of 485 responded. The results will be used to better serve churches. The information will be shared with directors of missions and will be used by the church services team to respond, consistent with BCM/D values —  mobilizing churches, relationships, loving pastors and wives, and prayer.

Crawford stressed that the intention of the BCM/D is to build relationships with our churches by church services staff members visiting them four-five times per year. This will also help to connect churches to foster relationships and growth. He also stated that this assessment will allow us to see where our convention is really at and how to best resource them.

Crawford, referring to the assessment answers, said there are many churches that have not used Skycroft Conference Center, and many are not at all familiar with the “Mountain for the Master.” “Skycroft is a tremendous asset that is underutilized,” Crawford told GMB members.

Theresa Sassard, the executive office administrator for the Baltimore Baptist Association (BBA) was thrilled about having the assessment information. “We have a very close relationship with our churches. We check on them a lot. But you may know more than we do through this survey.”

Communications Director Megan Jones (l) and Executive Director Michael Crawford (r). (photo by staff)

Referring to the upcoming Town Hall at Bethany Church in Columbia, Crawford explained the purpose of the meeting. “In my opinion, we’re trying to do too much at the annual meeting,” Crawford said there’s too much information and dialogue to fit into two hours of business sessions. The purpose of the Townhall is to provide more time for discussion. “We can go into the annual meeting more informed and more united.”  Another purpose for the Town Hall is to share strategic partnerships and celebrate what is happening in Maryland/Delaware churches.

Crawford encouraged members to attend the BCM/D annual meeting on November 6-7 at Ocean City Fontainbleu Resort. He emphasized a free pastors’ wives dinner on Nov. 7. Though pastors are welcome and encouraged to attend with their wives, it is primarily for the women. “Sister Somer (Phoebus) and Sister Melody (Knox) will make this special for your wives,” Crawford said, adding, “Pastors’ wives often feel very forgotten and feel that everything is for the pastors.”

In 2023, Crawford said there will be a large pastors’ conference, and a large pastors’ wives conference. These are two of four “Macro“ events planned in addition to the 2023 Townhall and the Annual Meeting.

Finally, before introducing the 2023 budget, Crawford shared the purpose and vision of the new initiative, “BCM/D Ready.” He stressed the importance of getting associations ready, not just for natural disasters but also for community needs. He stated that through partners like North American Mission Board (NAMB), we have the resources, and now need people who are trained and organized. He specified that the BCM/D is not moving away from Disaster Relief but expanding DR to include sociological disasters and community crises.

Crawford presented the new vision and values of the BCM/D —  to see every church mobilized for mission.

Budget Presentation

Crawford introduced the 2023 budget, by sharing that his desire is for the budget to reflect the BCM/D’s mission more accurately.

“This budget represents the beginning of the implementation of a new vision and change of direction of the BCM/D, meaning we’re going relational. We really want to focus on mobilizing churches, and encouraging pastors’ wives.” The proposed budget includes a change in the CP split, reducing the funds sent to national and international ministries from 48% to 37%.

“This allows us to strengthen and more effectively partner with our local associations and invest more in Maryland/Delaware plants and fortify or efforts to strengthen existing churches, while still making a substantial commitment to national and international missions,” Crawford said, also referencing funds available for connecting with pastors and their wives; disability ministry; crises care; BCM/D Ready; youth and children; the African American initiative; ministerial counseling; protecting children and vulnerable adults and marketing initiatives for Skycroft Conference Center.

Regarding the Skycroft portion of the 2023 budget, Stolle stated that the revenue is generated through general user fees, camps, and the HeBrews coffee shop. Most of the revenue is received by general user fees. He noted that the 2023 budget was developed assuming full pandemic recovery. The budget also anticipates increases in utilization of the conference center by BCM/D churches and community organizations. When asked how much inflation has been factored into the expenses, Stolle stated that a recent price analysis resulted in future rate increases responding to the current economic climate. Stolle stated that the vast majority of expenses represented the cost to serve guests, operate the facility, and perform repairs and maintenance. He also noted the need for volunteers.

BCM/D Executive Director Michael Crawford shares his vision for the BCM/D. (photo by staff)

Other Business

GMB President Byron Day presented the need for background criminal checks to be completed for all GMB members. Stolle shared that this is part of the BCM/D’s ongoing effort to protect our children and the vulnerable and that as a part of this initiative, all staff members were criminally background screened during 2022 at the direction of the executive director.

Members approved the following Constitution and Bylaws changes presented by Committee Chairman Fred Caudle. Each will be voted on at the annual meeting in November.

The first constitutional amendment to be voted on states: “In order to be affiliated with the BCMD, a local church must seek to protect vulnerable adults and children from sexual abuse in concrete ways which reflect the spirit and theology of Scripture. Disaffiliation will occur when a church is found to be in open and unrepentant beliefs or behaviors that are contradictory to the BFM 2000.”

The second constitutional amendment to be voted on states: “All GMB members are expected to hold themselves to a standard of conduct consistent with scripture. Failure to adhere to these standards may result in disciplinary action, up to and including removal from the GMB. If disciplinary action is required, the GMB will determine the action taken.”

The meeting closed in prayer.

Information compiled by Communications Specialist/Editor Sharon Mager, based on a report by BCM/D communications director Megan Jones and information from Associate Executive Director Tom Stolle.