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Alabama Baptists OK record budget, partnerships with Hawaii and Spain


MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–Alabama Baptists passed a record budget, finalized partnerships with Hawaii and Spain and initiated new missions partnerships during the Nov. 16-17 annual meeting.
Down from 1,839 registered messengers at the 1998 meeting, the 1999 state convention — hosted by Cottage Hill Baptist Church, Mobile — registered 1,245 messengers.
During the State Board of Missions report, messengers approved a record Cooperative Program base budget of $37 million and a challenge budget of $38 million.
Both budgets are nearly 1 million more than the 1998 budgets approved by messengers.
The 1999 budget amounts will be distributed at 42.3 percent going to Southern Baptist Convention missions causes and 57.7 percent going to Alabama Baptist missions causes.
Messengers also approved a state causes budget of $350,000.
Rick Lance, executive director of the board of missions, said prior to the board’s report that “the budget is an emphasis on the Great Commission.”
Encouraging a strong focus on missions, Lance said Alabama Baptists are partners on mission — through local, national and global partnerships.
To further emphasize the focus, Lance renamed the board’s staff as state missionaries.
“Alabama Baptists are working together in praying, giving and going in an effort to fulfill the Great Commission,” he said.
Board chairman Ron Madison reminded messengers during his report Alabama is among the top in state conventions giving to the SBC CP.
“Even though we are one of the old-line state conventions with many commitments in the state, we rank among the highest states in dollar amounts who give to the (SBC) CP,” said Madison, pastor of First Baptist Church, Opelika. In case Alabama Baptists exceed the challenge budget, messengers approved a distribution of those monies: 42.3 percent will go to SBC missions causes and any remaining monies will be distributed to state missions causes according to the percentages indicated in the 1999 challenge budget.
Also approved were the following special missions offerings totaling $14.83 million:
— Lottie Moon Offering — $8 million.
— Annie Armstrong Offering — $4.3 million.
— Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries Offering — $1.6 million.
— World Hunger Offering — $830,000.
— Disaster Relief Offering — $100,000.
The two new missions partnerships approved by messengers were with Venezuela and the northeastern United States.
While Southern Baptist missionaries have been in Venezuela since 1945, they still need the help of Alabama Baptists, said Curtis Kelley, pastor of First Baptist, Talladega.
“We want to be involved in prayer, evangelism, discipleship and starting new churches,” he said, noting a few Alabamians are in Venezuela serving as missionaries.
“Our goal is to double the number of mission churches to 500, start 300 new churches, have an increased membership of 15,000 and have 100 percent of the churches giving to the CP,” Kelley said. Alabama Baptists also want 75 percent of the churches involved in the prayer network, a network of 2,000 committed intercessors, discipleship as an essential element in 50 percent of the churches, a missions committee in 45 percent of the churches and an adoption of six unreached people groups.
While the international missions partnership reaches into South America, the North American missions partnership will be with states in the northeast.
Several southern state conventions are joining together in a missions endeavor called Impact Northeast, which targets Washington, D.C., through New England.
The other states joining the effort are Maryland/Delaware, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
“This will be an eight-year effort,” said Kelley, noting the partnership will last through the year 2007.
In other business:
— All officers elected in 1998 were re-elected: president, Buddy Gray, pastor of Hunter Street Baptist Church, Hoover; first vice president, Mike McLemore, pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church, Hoover; second vice president, John Long, director of missions for Baldwin Association; recording secretary, Mary Sue Bennett, administrative assistant to executive director-treasurer of the board of missions; statistical secretary, Bobby DuBois, associate executive director-treasurer for the board of missions; and registration secretary, Bill Austin, director of the Alabama Baptist Retirement Centers.
— Will meet for the annual meeting in 2000 at the Montgomery Civic Center, Nov. 14-15.
— The 1999 convention annual was dedicated to the memory of Don Watterson, who preached the 1998 convention sermon and died the next day. Watterson, a retired pastor, was a member of First Baptist Church, Montgomery.