God Has Opened a Great Door in Maryland/Delaware

COLUMBIA, Md. — Casting vision for the new year, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) Executive Director Michael Crawford told BCM/D General Mission Board (GMB) members, “I do believe there’s a wide effective open door for the gospel in our two-state eleven association collective.” The board met on Dec 6 at the BCM/D offices in Columbia.

BCM/D President Glenn Swanson shared an Advent devotional with the BCM/D GMB. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

Several members were new to the GMB and received their appointments to various committees. Associate Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle also shared the financial update with good news about Skycroft Conference Center. Board members discussed general business and their thoughts about the November Annual Meeting.

BCM/D President Glenn Swanson shared an Advent devotional based on the book “The Christmas Code” by O.S. Hawkins. Swanson discussed roots and heritage. Referring to the lineage of Jesus in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, Swanson asked members to consider their own heritage, “Can any of you tell me the full name of your great-grandfather and anything about his life?” Some of us may, he said. But consider this, he said, referring to the Advent book, “Chances are that our own children’s grandchildren may not even know our names.” Jesus’ family tree doesn’t end with the list of ancestors found in the Gospels. “You and I have been born into His forever family. What really matters is that your true roots are in Jesus and who you are in Him.”

GMB President Byron Day welcomed members and said, “These are exciting times! Our new executive director has brought some fire and excitement to our convention.”

Financial Report 

Associate Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle presented the financial report.

Associate Executive Director/CFO Tom Stolle shares the financial report at the GMB meeting on Dec. 6. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

Cooperative Program receipts for the eleven months ended November 30, 2022, total $2,944,617.01. This is $(60,247.00) or (2.0)% behind last year-to-date (YTD) actual results. NAMB receipts totaling $724,781.03 are running behind budget at about 77%. The variance from budgeted receipts is accounted for by fewer funded church plants than originally anticipated.

All major expense areas are running below the YTD budget.

Currently, the bottom line shows a net income of $70,750.24. Management believes breakeven for the year is possible, but CP will have to approach budgeted levels in December. The December results will be impacted by the recognition of expenses associated with the 2022 annual meeting.

Regarding the State Mission Offering, $94,806.55 was received in 2021. Those receipts are funding the 2022 initiatives: Disability Ministries, BCM/D Ready, and Skycroft. These funds have been fully allocated to the designated initiatives.

Referring to the Skycroft Conference Center budget, Stolle emphasized that the BCM/D does not own Skycroft Conference Center; rather, it is a part of the BCM/D. Skycroft receipts total $1,832,741.13 for the eleven months ended November 30, 2022, are running ahead of budget. Stolle said stronger than anticipated camp registrations were a contributing factor.

Expenses totaling $1,824,713.88 are running ahead of budget as well. Stolle said, “It is great to see increased activity on the mountain!”

GMB members enjoy a time of fellowship over lunch. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

For the eleven months ended November 30, 2022, Skycroft’s net income is $8,027.25. Management believes the conference center will end the year with a slight deficit, but the stronger-than-anticipated camp attendance has mitigated the potential deficit as we rebuild from the impact of the pandemic. Attendance was higher than anticipated and was higher than the 2019 pre-pandemic attendance levels. Stolle said, “We have also experienced increased facility usage in the fall, contributing to stronger-than-expected financial results. We are encouraged by these results as we rebound from the impact of the pandemic on conference center operations.”

Baptist Foundation Report

Stolle presented the Baptist Foundation Report on behalf of Foundation President Stacy Boyles. He reported that thirteen churches have outstanding loans from the Church Loan fund. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2022, the Foundation distributed church loan fund net income totaling $116,950.37. These funds are designated by the Foundation to be used by the BCM/D to start and strengthen churches. Each year at the BCM/D Annual Meeting, a Baptist Foundation representative presents the funds to the BCM/D.

GMB President Byron Day welcomes GMB members. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

Five churches have outstanding loans from the Arthur Nanney church loan established in 2006 for small emergency loans to churches.

Regarding investment balances and market performance, as of September 30, 2022, the market value of the investment portfolio was $8,783,829.57. In 2022, the market experienced a reduction in value. The one-year performance reflected a return of (19.4)%, and the three-year return totaled 1.4%. The Baptist Foundation of MD/DE is also positioned to manage endowment funds for churches and associations while saving them money on administration. Even churches or associations with modest investment needs may take advantage of the same discounts offered to multimillion-dollar investors simply by using the services of the Baptist Foundation. Stolle said, “We encourage churches and associations to partner with us to create Heritage Funds to secure future ministry efforts.” He added that an additional investment option exists via a partnership with the Kentucky Baptist Foundation, offering BCM/D affiliated churches a low-risk investment alternative to traditional money market and savings accounts. Additionally, the Baptist Foundation of MD/DE continues to provide education to our churches.” One of the tragedies we see is most people don’t give in death,” Stolle said. Multiple presentations have been prepared that are shared with 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.

Associate Executive Director Tom Stolle (l) and Communications Director/Executive Office Coordinator Megan Jones take notes at the Dec. 6 GMB board meeting. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

Stolle said, “We have partnered with the law firm of Davis, Agnor, Rapaport, and Skalny in a continued effort to provide high-quality education and information to our churches.” If your church is interested in learning more about the Foundation, a representative of the Foundation will be happy to provide additional information. Visit our website, www.bcmd.org/baptist-foundation, where you can learn more about the Foundation’s church loan, estate planning, and planned giving programs and view the most recently available audited financial statements.

Executive Director Report 

Executive Director Michael Crawford told GMB members, “We have amazing opportunities in front of us. As the world gets darker, the light shines brighter. The crazier the world gets, the truth becomes more simplistic, more cutting, more bold.”

Referring to 1 Corinthians 16:9, where the Apostle Paul writes, “…a wide door for effective work has opened to me…‚” Crawford said, “I do believe there’s a wide effective open door for the gospel in our two-state eleven association collective.” There are many lost people and brokenness and many opportunities, Crawford emphasized. We have

Former BCM/D President Harold Phillips (left) and BCM/D Executive Director Michael Crawford, take a moment to catch up. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

tremendous opportunities throughout our two-state convention filled with over 400 churches with thousands of members. 

Crawford told messengers collaboration is biblical, referring to the early churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, Corinth, and Macedonia, ministering to one another, sharing leadership and financial support.” They had systems and structure, he said.

“We’re here because we collaborate to do missions together. This is who we are and what we were designed to do,” Crawford said. “Collaboration wasn’t invented. It wasn’t a visionary’s idea. It was in the DNA of the church. Where’d they get this collaboration from? They got it from Jesus,” he said.

Looking ahead, Crawford said, “Our big vision is to see every church mobilized for mission.”

Crawford also emphasized the opportunities regarding Skycroft. “We want to build on our 50-year legacy of excellence on the mountain for the master.”

He emphasized the need for a sales and development director who would promote Skycroft, making it known to all the churches and surrounding regions. 

Additionally, Crawford emphasized that Skycroft needs volunteers. He recently showed up and fried bacon at breakfast, giving the kitchen staff a helping hand that they sincerely appreciated. Crawford asked GMB members to prayerfully consider who in their churches could possibly volunteer perhaps once a month.  

BCM/D Executive Director Michael Crawford shares about collaboration at the GMB Dec. 6 GMB meeting. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

Crawford highlighted some scheduling changes. The General Mission Board and Administrative Committee (a part of the GMB) will have fewer meetings each year but longer sessions. Crawford said this is a way to better steward resources and give more time to discuss business.

In a discussion regarding the response to the November BCM/D Annual Meeting, members had positive feedback. Newly elected Mid-Maryland Baptist Association Director of Missions John Mackall said, “I appreciated the environment of honesty and disclosure. It was very positive.”

Several members referred to the September Town Hall, designed to prepare messengers for the November Annual Meeting. Georgia Avenue Baptist Church Member Helen Corrothers shared that the Town Hall helped bring clarity to resolutions. Matt McMillan, the pastor of Westminster Baptist Church, said he appreciates the BCM/D’s “new culture” and the idea of the Town Hall. He referred to the Town

Georgia Avenue Baptist Church member Helen Corrothers shares her thoughts on the September Town Hall. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

Hall as a “relief valve” — a time to discuss resolutions and bylaw changes he hopes more people participate in next year.

Crawford offered a few ideas for possible changes to make the Annual Meetings more effective and encouraged members to share their thoughts and ideas.