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Ala. Baptists stress unity, affirm cooperation with SBC

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (BP)–The president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention challenged messengers to have “one mission, the Great Commission; one purpose, global evangelism, discipleship and missions; and one program, the Cooperative Program.”

Mike McLemore, ABSC president and pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church in Birmingham, delivered his remarks during the convention’s Nov. 13-14 annual meeting at Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville, where messengers also approved a record-setting Cooperative Program challenge budget of $40,425,000, up 3 percent over the current budget.

Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, said the budget will continue its 42.3 percent allocation for the base CP budget for Southern Baptist Convention causes and 57.7 percent for state convention causes.

When special offering gifts are counted, Lance said approximately 55 percent of all gifts channeled through the state convention will go to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries. In 2002, that will amount to $30,338,416 if offering goals are met.

The percentage of CP gifts going to SBC causes from Alabama “reflect the effort and ministry that we have as a national body in trying to do the work of evangelistic people of faith,” Lance said.

Alabama Baptists also have given “very generously, very sacrificially” to victims of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, Lance reported. He told messengers $145,000 had already been distributed, with another $109,000 planned for distribution in the days following the convention.

McLemore, in his presidential address, exhorted Alabama Baptists, “Step into the water and go deeper with Jesus Christ.” He noted that 265 of the convention’s 3,172 churches did not report any baptisms last year, while 464 churches did not give through the Cooperative Program.

This year’s convention theme was “Through Every Door — Making Disciples.”

In ABSC elections, McLemore was unanimously reelected to a second one-year term as president. Also reelected were first vice president Joe Godfrey, pastor of Taylor Road Baptist Church, Montgomery; second vice president Henry Cox, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bay Minette; and recording secretary Mary Sue Bennett.

McLemore expressed gratitude for the spirit among Alabama Baptists. “We just celebrated one of the greatest conventions we’ve had,” he said after the annual meeting. “There was a unified spirit.”

In other business, messengers:

— Adopted a resolution calling for all Alabama Baptists to pray for the country’s president, its government and military leaders and the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania.

Among other resolutions adopted by messengers: appreciation to C. Warren Trussell, Jr., retiring president of the Baptist Foundation of Alabama; support for legislation to protect the rights of children, both born and preborn, and for the many life-affirming alternatives to abortion; and a recommendation that Alabama Baptist churches celebrate the third Sunday in February as “Covenant Marriage Sunday.”

— Approved recommended convention themes for the 2002-2005 conventions: 2002 — Year of Discipleship Ministries, 2003 — Year of Cooperative Ministries, 2004 — Year of Leadership Ministries, 2005 — Year of Outreach Ministries.

— Extended the partnership with the Venezuelan Baptist Convention from 2003 to 2004 with the possibility of extending it to 2005. The recommendation noted that 2005 will conclude the first phase of Venezuela’s National Baptist Convention’s theme of “Hay Via en Jesus,” which translates “There Is Life in Jesus.”

— Reaffirmed Alabama Baptists’ involvement in the IMPACT Northeast partnership for 2002.

In an update on the partnership with Venezuela, Jacobo Garcia, executive director of evangelism and missions for the Venezuelan Baptist Convention, told messengers through a translation by Reggie Quimby, director of global partnerships for the Alabama convention, that there is still much work to be done in Venezuela.

“Venezuela has 25 million people, 23 million know nothing about the Lord Jesus Christ,” Garcia said. “And this year through the partnership, many have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.

“But still, there are many, many more that need to know the Lord Jesus,” Garcia added. “And we want to invite you to come to Venezuela to join us as we reach these millions for Jesus Christ.”

Messengers also heard from David Waltz, executive director of the Pennsylvania/South Jersey Baptist Convention, on the status of Alabama’s partnership with Baptists in the Northeast. “It means so much to us to know Baptists in Alabama care for us,” Waltz said.

Waltz said there are 15 million people in the areas of Pennsylvania and South Jersey that are covered by the two-state convention. He added 5 million of those are in Philadelphia — more than in the entire state of Alabama. “Over half of those are totally unchurched, and estimates are that 11 million of them have no stable relationship with Jesus Christ,” Waltz said.

The 2002 convention will be Nov. 19-20 at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham.
Jennifer Davis Rash & Sue Ann Miller contributed to this report.

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  • Greg Heyman