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Baptists in Md./Del. urged to ‘Embrace the Call’

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SOLOMONS, Md. (BP)–Baptists in Maryland and Delaware were challenged to “Embrace the Call” to worship, disciple, serve and witness during their 171st annual meeting at the Holiday Inn in Solomons, Md., Nov. 13-14.

Robert Smith Jr., an associate professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala., gave a theme interpretation based on Jeremiah 18:5-6. Believers, he said, like Jeremiah, live between two inescapable realities.

In the passage, Smith said Jeremiah goes from “sovereign accusation to sovereign submission.” Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prayed for the cup to be taken away but in the end accepted and embraced His Father’s purpose. Smith said believers serve a God who will not let them go or give up on them.

“You will not be isolated, but you will be insulated” Smith said.

During his presidential address, James Nichols preached from Luke 14:25-35.

“Whatever a person is doing in life, it’s important to count the cost before doing it,” Nichols said. “If someone calls you to blind obedience you’d be a fool not to peek. Jesus never called us to blind obedience. He told us what would be required.”

Those sacrifices include the submission of every other relationship and the willingness to carry a cross and surrender all ownership to Him.

“What price are you going to pay for Kingdom expansion?” Nichols asked. “What price is your church willing to pay so people come to know Jesus Christ?”

David Gordon, national mission adviser for the Baptist Union of Scotland, and David Lee, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, signed an agreement extending the convention’s partnership with Scotland for another three years. In 2006, mission teams visited seven churches in the European nation.

Mitch Dowell, a missionary who works with the evangelism emphasis “Embrace Baltimore,” said the city has a population of 650,000 and ranks fifth among U.S. ports.

“Baltimoreans love their city,” he said. “But Charm City is a city in crisis. Intermingled with art, culture and history is abject poverty, hopelessness and despair. We’re privileged to come along and join in work already in progress. I believe there is hope for Baltimore. That hope is through Jesus Christ.”

During the business sessions, messengers elected Rick Hancock, pastor of Dunkirk Baptist Church in Dunkirk, Md., as president; Byron Day, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Laurel, Md., as first vice president; and Chris Gudmundsson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dundalk, Md., second vice president. Gayle Clifton, pastor of Olney Baptist Church, in Olney, Md., was re-elected recording secretary.

Messengers approved an overall budget of $6.9 million for the coming year, up 3.8 percent from 2006. Anticipated Cooperative Program giving from churches in the two-state convention is $5.1 million, up 4 percent from the current year. Maryland/Delaware Baptists will forward 41 percent of CP receipts to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries. With any receipts above the $5.1 million budget, they will send 75 percent to SBC causes.

Earl Gray, chairman of the convention’s Public Education Impact Study Group, shared a report recommending two possible approaches to impact public schools in response to a motion last year by Harold Phillips, pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church, Port Deposit, Md., that the BCM/D executive director formulate a committee to research what churches can do to influence the public school curriculum to be more biblically and family friendly. The group recommended using volunteer opportunities.

“The easiest way to impact schools is to be part of the system — to embrace teachers, parents and administrators through a voluntary activity,” Gray said.

He suggested asking schools what they need, providing supplies, labor for special projects and encouragement through acts of kindness. Another suggestion the group made was to impact schools through a political approach, such as serving as a school board member or on a committee, or lobbying for change.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 12-13 at the Clarion Hotel in Ocean City, Md.
Based on a report by Sharon Mager, Shannon Baker & Iris White.

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