JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) -- The Missouri Baptist Convention's first African American officer, Jon Nelson, is not only a husband, father and church planter. He's also a testimony to the grace of God that can take an adversary of faith, such as Nelson once was, and bring him into the service of the one he had hated. Growing up in his parents' inner-city church in Kansas City, Nelson admits he often intellectually wrestled with Christians there. "When I attended my parents' church, I would privately engage in debates to destroy others' faith by asking venomous and loaded questions," Nelson remembers of his effort to agitate doubt that anyone had about God, the Christian faith or the Bible. Having become a self-defined -- but not publicly identified -- atheist, he wanted others to taste and see the same freedom he felt by rejecting belief in any God.
WRAP-UP: Worldwide missions, ministries projected to see gains in CP funding; 18 states boosting SBC portion
NASHVILLE (BP) -- For the second year in a row, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists approved the largest increase among all state Baptist conventions in the portion of Cooperative Program receipts sent beyond the state next year. The new split of 65 percent for in-state missions and ministry and 35 percent for the work of Southern Baptist entities will deliver an anticipated $192,500 beyond the two states for international and domestic missions, six Southern Baptist seminaries, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and the Executive Committee of the SBC. Joining Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists with increases in the percentage given to SBC causes ...
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (BP) -- At an average of $8,300 per family, New Mexico leads the nation in credit card debt, according to media reports this month. New Mexico also has one of the highest poverty rates in the U.S., with 1 in 5 people living below the poverty line. Those realities are among factors that provoked Joseph Bunce, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, to forge a partnership with Ramsey Solutions, an organization led by personal finance author and speaker Dave Ramsey. The BCNM is among 16 Baptist state conventions to launch such partnerships with Ramsey Solutions this year in an effort to help believers learn to manage their money. Additional state convention partnerships are in the works, according to Ramsey Solutions. From Arizona to Pennsylvania-South Jersey, state convention meetings this fall highlighted the partnerships.
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Partnership with the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) was a recurring theme at Baptist state convention annual meetings this fall. Of the 41 state and regional conventions that maintain cooperative relationships with the Southern Baptist Convention, at least a dozen have forged partnerships with ADF through its Church Alliance program. Additional state conventions are considering such partnerships, which help churches and state ministries protect themselves from infringement of their religious liberty. ADF partnerships were discussed at state annual meetings from New Mexico to Pennsylvania/South Jersey.
GLEN ALLEN, Va. (BP) -- The Baptist General Association of Virginia continues the purpose of its 1823 founding to strengthen local churches and help them work cooperatively in ministry, Executive Director John Upton said at the BGAV's 195th annual meeting. Cooperatively, churches can accomplish more than an individual congregation, Upton said at the Nov. 12-14 event hosted by Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Glen Allen, Va. "Living the Story" was the theme, based on 1 Corinthians 15:58. New initiatives are underway to help churches meet the changing needs of congregants and communities, Upton said. Among them is a Fresh Expression outreach offering $500 micro-grants to 50 congregations willing to try a nontraditional approach to take church to people where they are.
SANDUSKY, Ohio (BP) -- A first-ever Bible Conference on the Family sponsored by the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio preceded the convention's annual meeting in Sandusky. The Nov. 6 sessions led by Geoff & Sherry Surratt of Ministry Together aimed to minister to all families, especially those of pastors and church staff. On Nov. 7, SCBO president David Starry, lead pastor of First Light Church in the Dayton area, gaveled the convention's 65th annual meeting to order at the Kalahari Convention Center. Carl and Heather Cartee provided music for both meetings.
GRAND MOUND, Wash. (BP) -- Messengers to the Northwest Baptist Convention annual meeting Nov. 13-14 reelected three officers, passed a nearly $5.2 million budget for 2019 ministries, welcomed 13 congregations into affiliation and marked a new mission partnership with Texas Baptists. Participants highlighted this year's meeting theme -- "This is Our Day" -- in sermons, testimonies and presentations throughout the gathering, which drew 336 messengers and more than 50 registered guests to the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Wash. Participants represented 152 congregations in cooperation with the NWBC.
PHOENIX (BP) -- During their 90th annual meeting, Arizona Southern Baptists affirmed an updated vision statement leading up to the convention's centennial in 2028 and adopted a 2019 budget that will send more to Southern Baptist Convention causes. They also were challenged to love their ministry partners as they advance the Gospel together. "Fruitful" was the theme of the meeting held Nov. 16 at Foothills Baptist Church in Phoenix. It was attended by 291 messengers and 44 registered guests from 125 of Arizona Southern Baptists' approximately 470 churches. Budget & officers Messengers adopted a $4,921,356 operating budget for 2019, a $58,340 or 1.2 percent increase over 2018. The operating budget includes $3,476,000 in anticipated Cooperative Program giving from churches, up $136,000 or 4.1 percent from 2018.
HONOLULU (BP) -- Messengers to the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention received evangelism training from International Mission Board personnel and welcomed into their fellowship congregations in Okinawa, Japan, and the Philippines. Gathering around the theme "We Are Hawaii Pacific Missions," 191 messengers and 87 guests met Nov. 8-9 at Olivet Baptist Church in Honolulu. In addition to churches in Hawaii, the convention's 155 cooperating congregations include churches in Guam, Saipan, American and Western Samoa, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and now the Philippines. The 2019 budget of $2,375,000 marks a 9 percent decrease from the current year. The decrease is attributable largely to a shift in the way some expenses are classified, according to the HPBC. Anticipated receipts include $1,300,000 in Cooperative Program receipts from churches; $150,000 from the North American Mission Board and $65,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources.
JACKSON, Miss (BP) -- Mississippi Baptist Convention (MBC) messengers elected by acclamation Mark Vincent, senior pastor of Clarke-Venable Baptist Church in Decatur, to a second term as president during the MBC 2018 annual meeting. Messengers also approved without dissent a 2019 Mississippi Cooperative Program budget of $31,051,526, down 1.1 percent from the 2018 CP budget. Despite the slight decline, Mississippi Baptists will forward 37.9 percent of CP gifts, $11,799,579, to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international causes, compared to 37.7 percent of receipts forwarded in 2018.