MD/DE Baptists Celebrate Blessings, Set 2025 Goals
LAUREL, Md. — Three hundred sixty-five messengers and 29 guests at the 185th session of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) met at First Baptist Church of Laurel (FBCL) on Nov. 15. The theme was “Maryland/Delaware Baptists for Christ’s Glory!” Messengers celebrated stories of God moving in churches and heard news and updates from BCM/D staff. Interim Executive Director Mark Dooley shared the vision and goals for 2025. And in business, messengers approved the 2022 budget, elected officers, and approved two resolutions.
General Mission Board Administrative Committee Chairman Victor Kirk presented a plaque on behalf of the convention to former Executive Director Kevin Smith, who resigned in October to pastor a church in Florida. Looking to Smith, Kirk said, “You brought stability and restored integrity between our two states and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Our relationships with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and other SBC entities are stronger due to your intervention and influence.” Kirk also pointed to new state partnerships that Smith introduced to the BCM/D.
“We want to wish you well as you move to higher heights and deeper depths,” said Kirk.
Smith shared that it has been “a joy and privilege to be called here and serve here.”
“I thank the Lord for the brotherhood and sisterhood in Maryland/Delaware,” he said. He commended Interim Executive Director Mark Dooley and the BCM/D staff.
Celebration of God’s movement in churches
Church planters and re-planters shared how God is working in their churches.
Adam Muhtaseb, the lead pastor of Redemption City Church in Baltimore, shared that the church has grown from 8 to 200 people, with 90 members coming to faith and being baptized. They recently sent their first missionary to Southeast Asia, and two church-planting residents are preparing to plant more churches. The church also raised $1 million in cash and buy a building during the pandemic through connections with the BCM/D.
Adam Polk, the pastor of Redeeming Grace Baptist Church (RGBC) in Lexington Park, said RGBC began as a campus ministry in 2010 and launched as a separate church in 2015. Polk shared that they’ve grown to 200 covenant members. They are in a transitory area, but despite losing a quarter of their members every 3-4 years due to relocation, membership is steady and growing even through COVID-19. They have been meeting in a school, but two years ago, they kicked off a “Putting Down Roots” campaign and broke ground on a 20,000 square foot facility in September.
The church is partnering with churches in Baltimore and Idaho and developing a long-term partnership in the United Kingdom with International Mission Board missionaries.
Colin Pugh replanted Clinton Baptist Church in 2019 with just nine people. Pugh shared that God gave him the vision, “We Love, We Grow, We Serve,” based on Acts 2:4-7. The church has grown to 150 members; 64% are newly baptized believers. They’ve partnered with local government leaders and retail stores to serve their community in numerous ways. “All that is great, and God is doing great things, but what really touched my heart is that 500 people in the community came out for a harvest festival on Oct. 30,” said Pugh. “People said the ministry here not only brought life and light to the church but also light and life to the community.”
“When we say this convention believes in multiplication, I want you to know it is happening,” Jones told attendees.
Dan Housam pastors North Valley Church (NVC) in Myersville, a replant of Myersville Baptist Church (MBC). MBC was having a difficult time, and Summit Trace Church sent Housam with seven others to restart the church. “It turned into a replant,” Housam said. COVID-19 hit shortly after, but God is still blessing the church. Currently, Housam said NVC’s children’s ministry is bigger than the church they started in 2019. Now they’re renovating space and working with The Banquet Network to become a welcoming place for families with special needs.
Richard Pope, the pastor of Canvas Church in Salisbury, discovered his cancer had returned just three months before launching the church. A month before the launch, doctors told him the diagnosis was terminal. There was nothing more they could do. “I was crushed and heartbroken,” he said. “My church prayed to see God do something miraculous in my church and in me.” Pope and the church moved forward.
Since they launched on Easter Sunday, they’ve seen 40 people come to Jesus and those lives are becoming changed. Canvas is now preparing to launch a plant in Sussex.
Michael Crawford, Send Network Director for Maryland/Delaware and Interim Director of Operations, referring to the church planters, said, “All of these guys are heroes.” Crawford prayed, thanking God for His power and blessings on the churches. He and Mark Dooley spent time praying for Pope and the church. “May perfect peace invade, capture, dominate and overwhelm their hearts,” Crawford prayed.
Interim Director Report
Referring to the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas in Acts, Dooley discussed their overarching truths descriptive of who the people of God are and who the churches of the BCM/D need to be going forward in the future.
Paul and Barnabas proclaimed the word of God. Dooley emphasized the necessity of proclaiming the gospel, starting churches, and strengthening churches.
“The gospel is about the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “And that, friends, is the message we are to proclaim. We need to shout about ‘your sins are forgiven, will you accept that?’ Too often we stop at ‘you are a sinner, condemned.’ While it’s true, we are apart from Christ; the good news is that in Christ we find forgiveness.”
Secondly, Dooley emphasized a church planting emphasis. Paul, Dooley said, intentionally planted churches. He didn’t just go to cities and proclaim the gospel and leave. He installed leaders and returned or wrote letters to “stoke the fire.” Dooley encouraged churches to be part of planting.
Dooley also encouraged church strengthening. “I’m so thankful for our Church Services department that helps strengthen churches,” he expressed. “Please note that consultants, those who serve or churches, are here for you because they love you and want to be available to your church.
“Too often I believe we feel the churches existed for the state convention. That’s not true. That is backward. The state convention exists for your church. The convention, association, and other cooperative partners are there to resource, equip, and mobilize you in your mission,” Dooley told church leaders.
Messengers elected Glenn Swanson, the pastor of Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, as president; Jim Testerman, the pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Bel Air, Maryland, as first vice president; Vernon Lattimore, pastor of First Baptist Church of Mount Rainier in Maryland, as second vice president; Stephanie Greer, a member of The Garden Church in Baltimore, as recording secretary; and Michael Fillis, the pastor of Fenwick Island Baptist Church in Delaware, as assisting recording secretary.
They adopted a 2022 budget of $6,963,899 that includes an anticipated $3,500,000 in Cooperative Program (CP) gifts from BCM/D churches, $1,761,955 in total Skycroft Conference Center receipts, $125,000 in State Missions Offering gifts, and $937,000 from the North American Mission Board (NAMB). The budget reflects 48% of CP receipts to SBC national and international missions and ministries, unchanged from last year.
Additionally, messengers approved In Support of Sexual Abuse Survivors and The Task Force, a resolution concerning churches and sexual abuse, and a resolution of appreciation to FBCL for hosting the meeting.
The first resolution affirms the SBC’s appointed task force’s work and calls on BCM/D churches to support sexual abuse victims by exposing abuse through teaching and preaching. The resolution also emphasizes reporting sexual abuse to the proper authorities and removing from membership any church that knowingly perpetuates sexual abuse among members or staff and resolves that churches stand ready to offer support to victims. Additionally, the resolution calls for the BCM/D General Mission Board’s Affiliations Committee to research the potential of requiring churches to participate in preventative measures like the Caring Well Initiative to be considered in good standing with the BCM/D. And, the resolution stated that the Chief Financial Officer would research ways to provide funding to help cover the cost of background checks and other such measures. The results of the research will be presented before the 2022 Annual Meeting.
Dooley presented Vision 2025 Cooperative Efforts for the BCM/D with the following goals from 2022-2025:
- 50 new churches
- 100 churches engaging in revitalization efforts
- 10,000 baptisms
- 1,000,000 missional engagements among BCM/D churches
- 100% participation of BCM/D churches engaging in the Caring Well initiative
Dooley encouraged messengers and guests to grasp the vision and move forward. He shared an upcoming evangelism emphasis in 2022, including a Maryland/Delaware evangelism conference featuring Johnny Hunt, an author, a former BCM/D president, and pastor.
In the final message of the day, BCM/D President Harold Phillips told messengers, “We steward something special,” Phillips said. “As Maryland/Delaware Baptists, it is our calling to do everything we can to steward life and the giving away of life.”
Watch the Video!
You can check out the video recap and read the Annual Book of Reports here.
Sharon Mager serves as BCM/D church correspondent and communications specialist.
Cover photo: Members and guests worship during the BCM/D’s Annual Meeting (photo by Dominic Henry).