Inaugural Town Hall: We Communicated, Collaborated and Celebrated!
COLUMBIA, Md. — The BCM/D’s inaugural Town Hall meeting at Bethany Church, Columbia, according to Executive Director Michael Crawford, was “beautiful.” And it was. Even esthetically, Bethany Church’s worship/multipurpose area has a calming soft blue-lighted theme, and BCM/D staff covered round tables with classy black tablecloths. And the mood was relaxed and upbeat. About 50 people attended in person, meeting in groups, connecting, and matching new faces to names. Many also connected through Facebook Live.
Bethany Church Member Daniel Villalobos led a time of singing. BCM/D Church Services Consultant Randy Millwood welcomed guests from “local churches scattered from the mountains to the sea, all of us together listening to the sound of God’s voice and celebrating what God is up to in our midst.” Millwood explained that celebrating what God is doing, collaborating in partnership, and communicating who we are and where we’re going was the agenda of the day.
Millwood prayed, “Father, we are grateful for the partnership we know in Christ Jesus, the invitation to join you on mission, for the kingdom of God… and the power of the Holy Spirit who inspires and enables us on this mission….thank you, Father. it’s all about you.”
During the celebration session, BCM/D staff shared how God is moving through Maryland/Delaware.
State Evangelism Director Mark Dooley noted Bayside Baptist Church’s new Transformation Center, which serves as a home for the church’s disability, youth and children’s ministries; a weekly food pantry; and even as a storm shelter in winter.
Dooley also shared about Canvas Church in Salisbury. “Who starts the church during a pandemic? Richard Pope, the pastor of Canvas Church did,” Dooley said with a huge smile. Pope launched Canvas on Easter in 2021, and In 18 months the church has grown to an average of 95 people, and they have 43 Salisbury students who have come to faith. Also, they’re raising up three church planting residents to send them out.
Church Planting Catalyst Jamie Caldwell shared that ten candidates were recently assessed and nine were “greenlighted,” meaning they were ready to begin. Caldwell was excited as he announced that most are international, including Chinese, Cameroonian, Nigerian, and Nepali. “It’s exciting,” Caldwell said. He emphasized that neither NAMB nor the BCM/D plant churches, “Churches plant churches.”
Children and Youth Ministry Consultant Kris Buckman said she’s thrilled that even though 2020 almost halted ministries due to Covid, youth and children’s ministry leaders have remained “steadfast and faithful.” She reported that the churches in our convention that hosted VBS and summer camps tripled from last summer. She also noted collaboration between The Garden Church in Baltimore and Covenant Church in West Virginia partnered to send teams to each other’s churches to help run summer camps.
Finance Office Coordinator Margot Painter, shared that one of the joys of her year is working with “Every Child Belongs,” a camp held at Skycroft Conference Center, sponsored through a collaboration of the BCM/D, The Banquet Network, Cresthill Church in Bowie, and The Gathering Place Church in Bowie. Painter said many people who are disabled aren’t comfortable going to the typical camps. Painter said at Every Child Belongs, they get to do the
same things other campers do — the water slide, pool, and zipline. The only thing different is that they have a one-on-one buddy. Painter said the camp began with a dozen in 2021, doubled this year, and plans are to accept up to 70 people in 2023. “But we’re depending on you to make it happen,” she said. The camp can only expand if enough buddies and volunteers are available.
Community Engagement Consultant Ellen Udovich shared about BCM/D Ready, a new initiative rolling out this year. It is designed to position associations to respond more effectively to disasters, crises, and needs in the community, she told the group. Udovich shared about Alejandro Molero, the pastor of Iglesia Biblica Sublime Gracia in Washington DC, where busses coming from Texas are dropping off migrants, those who have permission to be in the country. “They began knocking on the door of the church because they saw the name in Spanish,” Udovich said. The little church helped but quickly realized there were just too many people for them to handle. They needed help and reached out to the BCM/D. “This is more than one church, or association can do,” Udovich said. Through BCM/D Ready, Udovich is overseeing a drive to get the word out so churches can help. They need health kits, diapers, stuffed animals to put in backpacks for little kids, snacks, counselors, transportation, and much more. “BCM/D CReady is about all of us being ready and having our eyes open to what God is putting across our paths — all of us serving together,” she said. (To help, email Eudovich@bcmd.org)
Emily Reedy, the director of Skycroft Conference Center in Middletown, Maryland, shared that Skycroft is celebrating its 50th anniversary. She reported that 1,906 attendees over seven weeks at summer camp — that’s more attendees in 2022 than in 2019 before Covid. Even more exciting, Reedy said, “We had 49 professions of faith and 80 spiritual milestones (baptism, re-dedication, and called to ministry).” Reedy said Skycroft is busy this fall with 72 events booked through the end of the year. Also, she said 2023 is “shaping up to be promising.” The annual winter retreat, ReBoot, is 80% full, and even now, near the beginning of October, next year’s Crossings camp is 75% full. “Over 1600 kids and students have already committed to being at camp next summer.”
Eastern Baptist Association Interim Director of Missions and the Pastor of Harvest Baptist Church in Salisbury Keith Myer, who also leads the group of Baptist association directors of missions that meet regularly, shared about the growing relationships between associations and the BCM/D. He shared about a positive meeting of association leaders and Michael Crawford in August.
He also noted Richard Pope, the pastor of Canvas. Pope was directed to Myer to discuss affiliations and church planting. Myer connected Pope to BCM/D Church Planting Catalyst Jamie Caldwell — a great example, Myer said, of associations and the convention partnering to help this planter. “We are becoming relationally driven again. The Southern Baptist Convention, the BCM/D – we rise and fall with relationships and interpersonal connections.”
Collaborating on a national level, Myer, who also serves on the BCM/D’s Sexual Abuse Task Force, made a motion at the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Anaheim, California, to add a “day to the SBC Calendar to raise awareness of abuse of any kind.” That motion was passed on September 20. The first “Caring Well Sunday” on the SBC calendar will be Sept. 24, 2023.
In a time designated to share about partnerships and collaboration, Caldwell discussed opportunities to collaborate with the North American Mission Board. Dooley led a time sharing about educational opportunities available in the region, and Stolle and Katie Matthews, the director of The Banquet Network, shared about the Network, which partners with churches to train and equip them to start and strengthen their disability ministries.
Bill Voelp, a member of Severna Park Baptist Church and the chairman of the BCM/D Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee, explained the role of the committee, in pointing culture in the direction of truth and acting for Maryland/Delaware churches in the areas of Christian ethics, inter-faith operations and Christian social concerns. Broadly, he said, this covers family life, human relations, moral issues, daily work, economic life, church-state relations, cooperative relations with other religious groups, and those areas where the gospel and churches affect or are affected by the community and public life. Voelp said currently, the committee is focused on the sanctity of life, marriage, family, education, and religious freedom. They have affiliated with various pro-life groups in Maryland/Delaware.
Preparing for Annual Meeting
Associate Executive Director Tom Stolle and Chairman of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee Fred Caudle shared two proposed constitutional changes that will be presented for vote at the annual meeting, one referring to the need for churches to protect children and vulnerable adults, and the second that GMB members must hold themselves to a standard of conduct consistent with scripture.
Suggested changes are being considered, and the amended versions will be available for the Annual Meeting or before if possible.
Response to the meeting was positive. Catonsville Baptist Church Pastor Rob Montgomery said, “It was a great idea, organizationally, to be able to have conversations with people and iron out any issues and get feedback before the annual meeting. I think that is huge. It helps people feel like they’re being heard. What we saw — the interaction…the give and take, adding little changes here or there, I thought that was a valuable time.” Montgomery said he also enjoyed the fellowship. “It was also good to get together with folks — it was a good time. I also liked hearing from Michael (Crawford), hearing his vision, getting to know the folks who work with Micahel, know what’s happening. It was helpful.”
Faith Baptist Church Glen Burnie, Pastor Tim Byer agrees with Montgomery. “I enjoyed the meeting. I’m very interested to see now what the format of the Annual Meeting will be and how it changes. It is always a pleasure to hear what God is doing and catch up with friends from around the convention.”
For questions or information about any of the above opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who missed the meeting can still watch it here.