WACO, Texas (BP) — More than 1,700 messengers and visitors attended the 132nd Texas Baptists Annual Meeting in Waco with a theme of “Compelled” in being equipped and encouraged to live for Christ.
Messengers adopted a 2018 total budget of more than $37 million for Baptist General Convention of Texas missions and ministries; passed resolutions on such topics as sexual harassment and assault; and, through speaking, worship, workshops and fellowship, were urged to live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in every aspect of their lives.
“Be compelled to seek God’s will, search God’s Word and support God’s work,” BGCT President Danny Reeves, pastor of First Baptist Church in Corsicana, said in his Monday morning address. “This is the heartbeat of Texas Baptists.”
The 2018 budget of $37,135,129 is up more than 1 percent from the previous year. While Cooperative Program Texas giving is expected to remain unchanged at $29.6 million, forecasted increases in investment income and revenue account for the slight increase in total budget. The 2018 Texas World Missions Initiatives and Partnerships Allocation of $1.61 million also was approved.
The convention enables each church to designate the percentage of its gifts that will be used for BGCT missions and ministries and the percentage for one of three worldwide partners: the Southern Baptist Convention, BGCT Worldwide or the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The convention recommends that congregations designate 79 percent of their cooperative gifts for BGCT ministries and 21 percent for a worldwide partner, but the 79-21 split is not mandatory.
Officer elections for 2017-2018 bookended the business session on Monday afternoon with the reelection of Reeves as president; Joe Fields, pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Lewisville, as first vice president; and Jim Heiligman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, as second vice president. Additional elections included Doug Powell as recording secretary and Bernie Spooner as secretary of the corporation.
Eight resolutions brought before messengers by the Resolutions Committee were adopted by votes of affirmation.
In a resolution titled “Sexual Harassment and Assault,” messengers noted the high number of such reports across the nation and the #MeToo social media campaign to publicize such instances. The resolution called on Texas Baptists “to affirm and support persons victimized by sexual harassment and assault” and underscored “the importance of preaching and teaching about proper behavior in order to help church members clearly understand appropriate and inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature.”
Among other resolutions, Texas Baptists:
— Voiced “prayerful sympathies and support” to First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in the massacre of 26 people on Nov. 5.
— Affirmed the federal Adoption Tax Credit for families adopting orphaned children.
— Decried “every form of racism as a contradiction to the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and urged churches to “build relationships, listen to others, provide education, and promote understanding in order to bridge the racial divides in the church and our culture.”
— Voiced their commitment to “religious liberty for all people,” specifically referencing “people worldwide who are persecuted for their faith.”
— Called for civil discourse in America toward “a positive dialogue between Christians and non-Christians that honors Christ.”
In other business, David Russell, chair of the Executive Board, moved for the adoption of a recommendation that the relationship between the BGCT and Baptist Community Services of Amarillo be changed from an affiliated institution to an institution related by special agreement, and the motion passed.
Executive Director David Hardage, in his Monday evening report, recognized notable leaders who partner with Texas Baptists, including Tamiko Jones, newly-elected executive director-treasurer of WMU of Texas; Mickey Lenamon, executive director of Texas Baptist Men, who shared about Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery efforts; Ray Clark, CFO of the North American Mission Board, who presented $250,000 for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts, and Katie Sciba, governing board officer from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, who presented a check for $50,000 for the recovery; and Ray and Lauralee Lindholm and pastor Matt Zamudio of Windsor Park Baptist Church in DeSoto, representing Ethiopian churches connected with Texas Baptists work.
Speakers & workshops
Drawing from Ephesians 2:10, featured speaker Will Mancini, author, church strategist and founder of the church consulting firm Auxano, encouraged Texas Baptists to think vivid, imaginative thoughts and dream big dreams. “You have a nameable, knowable, special assignment from God,” Mancini said.
Delvin Atchison, director of Texas Baptists Great Commission Team, noted that “God invites us to peer at our possibilities from His perspective” and encouraged Texas Baptists to see human views from a heavenly perspective.
Workshop leaders, with a focus on living compelled to share the Gospel, covered topics from evangelism and discipleship strategies to ministry to refugees and working to end hunger. Following the shooting at Sutherland Springs, an additional workshop addressing church safety and security was added to the schedule. David Adams, BGCT director of church administration and special projects along with legal consultant John Litzer presented practical tools and resources to create an emergency operations plan that communicates with law enforcement and medical professionals in advance.
“Prepare now,” Adams said. “There is no reason to put it off. Our churches need calm assurance from their leaders that steps are being taken…. This is a discipleship issue. It’s about doing all we can to show a broken world what it looks like to be secure in Christ.”
Once developed, he said, the emergency operations plan “should not be left on the shelf, but should be in a consistent state of reworking.”
The 2018 Texas Baptists Family Gathering is scheduled for July 29-31 in Arlington, bringing together joint sessions of the Texas Baptists Annual Meeting, the African American Fellowship Conference and the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas.