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Ala. Baptists reject proposal to transfer $30,000 to BWA

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)–Messengers to the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting rejected a proposal to reduce Cooperative Program giving by $30,000 and direct the funds instead to the Baptist World Alliance, an organization the Southern Baptist Convention voted to withdraw from in June.

A 2005 base budget of $41,500,000 was approved, reflecting a 2.65 percent increase over the current year.

Allan Murphy, pastor of North Shelby Baptist Church in Birmingham, objected to the budget proposal and introduced a motion to reduce the amount forwarded through the Cooperative Program for national and international missions and ministries by $30,000 each year and proposed the money be sent to the BWA.

“I do not believe that the Baptist World Alliance and its head, Denton Lotz, the brother-in-law of Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz, are theologically liberal,” Murphy said.

Murphy’s motion failed, and the budget was approved as presented.

Messengers elected Henry Cox, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bay Minette, as president without opposition. Cox’s election to the presidency follows four one-year terms of service in the two convention vice president roles. He is believed to be the first Alabama Baptist to have gone through the three offices in consecutive terms.

“I feel very honored to represent Alabama Baptists at this point in my life,” Cox said. “I want to honor Christ and represent the Alabama Baptist State Convention with integrity and dignity.”

Other officers elected without opposition include Roger Willmore, pastor of First Baptist Church in Boaz, first vice president; Gary Hollingsworth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Trussville, second vice president; and Mary Sue Bennett, special assistant to the ABSC executive director, recording secretary.

Among the resolutions adopted by messengers was a call for marriage protection amendments to both the U.S. Constitution and to Alabama’s constitution. The resolution noted that “the biblical institution of marriage is under attack in America through legislative, judicial, and cultural efforts to legalize and make acceptable relationships contrary to God’s law, and these efforts are continuing and intensifying.”

A resolution thanking those who helped in disaster relief after Hurricane Ivan struck the Alabama coast in September noted that more than 1,200 volunteers from 15 states had “responded to the call for help.” A resolution on education, meanwhile, affirmed “local churches, associations and individual believers who share the love of Christ by choosing to partner with schools regularly or periodically.”

Reggie Quimby, director of the Alabama State Board of Missions’ global partnerships/volunteers in missions department, updated messengers on the convention’s partnership with Venezuela Baptists. Jesus Pinto and Jacobo Garcia of the National Baptist Convention of Venezuela joined Quimby during the report and expressed their love and respect for Alabama Baptists and their ongoing assistance. Quimby said about 500 volunteers traveled to Venezuela in 2004, and about 4,200 decisions for Christ resulted from the outreach.

A strategic initiatives task force headed by Gary Hollingsworth presented goals for the convention reaching from 2005-11, including priorities of evangelism and discipleship, missions mobilization and leadership development. Hollingsworth told messengers the priorities are reflected in the convention’s “One Mission — The Great Commission” — and supported by the convention’s “One Program — the Cooperative Program.”

The task force recommended that Alabama Baptists adopt intentional evangelism as their statewide theme for 2005-07, missions mobilization as the theme from 2008-09 and leadership development from 2010-11.

“We are doing a good job as Baptists and we don’t see a need for major shifts in the state board’s organizational structure or programs,” Hollingsworth said, while adding that office of evangelism and office of discipleship should work together more.

Bob Terry, editor of The Alabama Baptist, told messengers the newspaper is offering more pages, more news and more inspiration than at any time in its history. The staff recently secured services from the printer that handles the local editions of USA Today, which will improve the production quality of the paper. Terry also noted the price remains 20 cents per copy, which amounts to a “communications bargain” for Alabama Baptists. Seventy percent of editorial space is allotted for state Baptist news, he said, and every association was featured in the paper in 2004.

This year’s sessions, Nov. 16-17, were held at Eastmont Baptist Church in Montgomery. Next year’s meeting will be Nov. 15-16 at Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville.
Based on reports by Jennifer Davis Rash, Anthony Wade & Kima Jude of The Alabama Baptist.

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