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Consensus candidate Anderson re-elected by Louisiana Baptists

BATON ROUGE, La. (BP)–For the second year in a row, Louisiana Baptists unanimously elected a consensus candidate as state convention president.
In a meeting long on inspiration instead of business, convention messengers also elected two church staff members as vice presidents in close votes, adopted a record Cooperative Program budget and approved denominational committee and trustee nominees without change.
Although unanimous, this year’s election of Anderson as president was not as dramatic as events leading up to the 1997 annual meeting. Last fall, the longtime Louisiana Baptist minister emerged in the weeks prior to the annual meeting as a consensus peace nominee — with endorsements from opposing groups in the state.
Anderson is pastor emeritus of Parkview Baptist Church in Baton Rouge and founder of Antioch Affection, a ministry to help churches and ministers in conflict.
In the weeks prior to this year’s convention, there were rumors Anderson might be opposed for a second term. However, a few weeks prior to the annual meeting, Anderson reported he had received assurances he would not face an organized challenge.
In the end, he didn’t. Instead, he was nominated as a man of peace who has helped bring the Louisiana Baptist Convention to the verge of revival.
Following his unanimous re-election, Anderson urged Louisiana Baptists to pray for the convention — especially that it will focus on the task of winning the state for Christ. “I believe nothing is beyond the reach of prayer except that which is outside the will of God,” said Anderson, a retired pastor and founder of Antioch Affection, a ministry to help churches and ministers in conflict.
Anderson also called on laypeople to be involved in convention life. “We can turn this state upside down for the Lord only if our laypeople come in to help us. … We need you.”
While messengers agreed on Anderson as president, elections for vice presidents were very close.
Luther Burney was elected first vice president on a vote of 415 (52.5 percent) to 376 (47.5 percent). Burney is minister of music at First Baptist Church, Lafayette.
Lynn Oswalt was elected second vice president on a vote of 341 (51.6 percent) to 320 votes (48.4 percent). Oswalt is minister of education at First Baptist Church, Baton Rouge.
In both instances, the elected vice presidents defeated nominees endorsed by the Louisiana Inerrancy Fellowship: for first vice president, Gary Mitchell, pastor of Fordoche Baptist Church, Fordoche, and second vice president, Jerry Chaddick, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, The Quincy.
A total of 1,228 messengers registered for the annual convention, the lowest total since 1994. Convention sessions were held at the Maravich Assembly Center on the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge.
In key actions, messengers:
— approved a $20.6 million state Cooperative Program budget. The total represents a increase of $1.6 million (7.9 percent) from the current budget. It maintains an allocation formula that sends 35 percent of receipts to support Southern Baptist Convention causes. If the budget goal is reached, that means $7,175,000 will be forwarded through the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program budget.
— approved all recommended nominees to serve on state convention committees and trustee boards. Again, rumors had circulated that some nominees would be challenged. However, no challenges arose.
— approved resolutions opposing the spread of gambling, supporting passage of state legislation to restore a high level of protection for religious freedom, urging prayer for elected officials and encouraging efforts to fight illiteracy in the state.
Throughout the convention, messengers were challenged to move beyond differences and personal agendas and focus on the task of winning Louisiana to Christ.
During a pre-convention pastors’ conference, LBC Executive Director Dean Doster stressed the need to keep perspective. “I’m a Bible-believing inerrantist,” he said. “Conservative. … And I want to tell you — the enemy is not another conservative brother. The enemy is not another moderate brother. The enemy is Satan.”
In a state missions report during the convention, Doster emphasized Louisiana Baptists are at an opportune time to experience spiritual awakening — if they will seize the moment.
“The spiritual ingredients are coming together for the possibility of an unusual movement of God among us,” Doster said. “The world’s need for Christ has never been so obvious. The challenge for Louisiana Baptists has never been more varied. The resources have never been more available. And the opportunity never has been greater.”
Doster said he believes most Louisiana Baptists want revival and have begun to move in ways that will enable such spiritual awakening to come. Many Louisiana Baptists have begun putting aside personal issues in order to unite around the theme of peace and winning the lost to Christ, he said.
“I believe the majority of Louisiana Baptists have said, ‘Enough fighting with each other. … Let’s get together and win our lost neighbors and family to the Lord Jesus Christ.'”
No one can agree with another person on everything, Doster said. “But Jesus said, ‘I’ve come to seek and save that which was lost.’ He also commanded, ‘As the father sent me, so send I you.’
“My dear brothers and sisters, hear me. I beg of us all, in Jesus’ name, to unite our agendas, our motives, our hearts and our energy around this mandate of our precious Lord Jesus Christ.”
Meanwhile, in the annual convention sermon, Carroll Marr stressed Louisiana Baptists must recover an awareness that lost people will die and go to hell unless something is done. Marr is a former Louisiana Baptist pastor who recently accepted a Texas pastorate.
To reach their state for Christ, Louisiana Baptists must put aside politics, begin to expect God to do great things and refuse to give up in their efforts, Marr said.
“I want to ask you a question, What are Louisiana Baptists known for?” Marr asked. “It may not be our love for one another. It might be our hate for one another. It might be our anger and our bitterness over issues that are so petty in regards to an awareness of the needs of those without Jesus.”
Marr voiced frustration about politics in the convention. “The only thing missing sometimes is to put a sign in our yard as to who we’re for,” he said. “We must never lose sight of the fact that the Louisiana Baptist Convention is nothing more than a tool to accomplish the job God has placed us here to accomplish. And our task is not to polish the tool. Our task is to use the tool to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Too many Christians have lost a sense of expectation about what God can do, Marr continued. Meanwhile, God is waiting for his children to ask him to do something only he can do, something they cannot do on their own, he said.
“Folks, we can’t reach this state for Jesus. But he can. He can. Do you believe that? God can reach this state. And it’s time we expect him to do it.”
It also is time Christians adopt a simple motto for ministry, embracing the attitude of the four friends who lowered their paralytic friend through a roof to Jesus in Mark 2, Marr said, noting the men refused to give up, refused to be satisfied with just making an effort to get their friend to Jesus.
“Do you see the motto for ministry in the story? … It’s there. … What’s the motto we need to embrace as a state convention? It’s simple.
“Whatever it takes.
“Whatever it takes.”
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 15-16 in Monroe.

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  • C. Lacy Thompson