ATLANTA (BP)–Georgia Baptists meeting in annual session welcomed 72 new churches and missions, rejected a motion to fund the Baptist World Alliance and accepted the departure of one of its ministries from its affiliation with the state convention.
Messengers also heard a challenge to pray for a “tsunami” wave of revivals next year as the “What Now, Georgia” evangelistic emphasis is launched in the spring. The state has set a goal of 50,000 baptisms, start at least 100 new churches and see the creation of 3,500 new units in Sunday School.
The theme of the Nov. 15-16 sessions, held in College Park in suburban Atlanta, was “Revival: The Time Is Now.” The two-day meeting focused on the series of revivals that will begin in the southern part of the state in mid-February and move across the state in a staggered format, ending in the northern part in late April.
Messengers also elected Columbus pastor Tony Dickerson to a second-year term without opposition and approved a budget of $48,750,000, a 4.8 percent increase from the 2004 budget of $46,500,000.
Michael Ruffin, pastor of The Hill Baptist Church in Augusta, made a motion that the Cooperative Program add a line item in the amount of $30,000 for the BWA. After discussion on the floor, the motion was overwhelmingly defeated. In June, messengers to the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting voted to withdraw their national membership and to cease all funding to the alliance.
In other business, GBC Executive Director J. Robert White informed messengers that the convention’s Developmental Disabilities Ministries had effectively severed ties to the state convention by amending its bylaws to remove the right of the convention to elect its trustees. White said the information was communicated through a letter written by Richard Davis, DDM president, that the agency had taken the action and had elected two new trustees, each for a five-year term beginning in January 2005.
White said he was “greatly disappointed” by the decision. But, unlike similar action taken two years ago by Shorter College, the DDM articles of incorporation do not prevent such action. The Shorter College issue is still unresolved and remains in the courts.
“It hurts to see them [DDM] withdraw. Personally, I feel the decision to be unwise and shortsighted, though not illegal,” White said.
DDM was established in 1981 to provide for adults with developmental disabilities and was part of the state’s children’s homes ministry. In 1999 it decided to leave the Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries and become a separate agency, forfeiting its right to receive any convention funds.
It received $2 million as a gift from GBCHFM to assure its success, and the last portion of those funds was received by DDM last year.
Of the 72 new churches and missions added to the convention, 42 were new works, of which 20 were ethnic starts. A total of 28 were previously existing congregations that voted to affiliate with the convention.
In addition to the election of Dickerson as president, messengers also approved a new slate of officers for the coming year.
Others elected were Jody Hice, pastor of First Baptist Church of Bethlehem, first vice president; David Harper, pastor of Hollywood Baptist Church, Rome, second vice president; Doug New, pastor of Mt. Pleasant Church of Carrollton, third vice president; and Jimmy Blanton, associational missionary for Columbus Baptist Association, fourth vice president.