News Articles

Harmony, prayer emphases noted at Miss. convention

JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–The four sessions of the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s 163rd annual meeting Oct. 27-28 in Jackson were marked by harmony and emphases on prayer.
Convention actions included re-election of the entire slate of 1998 officers, all by acclamation; adoption of a 1999 Cooperative Program budget of $26.6 million without a dissenting vote; unanimous adoption of a final step in constitutional changes concerning trustees of institutions; and unanimous approval of six resolutions, including one opposing “the plague of gambling.”
The rest of the resolutions showed appreciation for the host church and convention leadership; for the life and ministry of Bill Causey, convention board executive director-treasurer emeritus; for entertainer Tom Lester of Mississippi for his “commitment to family moral values;” and for the response of Mississippi Baptists to the disaster on the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Georges.
A seventh resolution concerning “breaking fellowship with the president of the United States” was not reported out of the resolutions committee because, as members said, it was in violation of the convention’s constitution which prevents actions against autonomous and independent churches and prevents matters relative to local church membership.
Just after the resolutions were approved, Kay Cassibry, director of Mississippi Woman’s Missionary Union, announced a Mississippi Baptist disaster relief child-care unit was to be set up in Victoria, Texas, following extensive flooding in the area. Led by Donna Swarts of Magee, volunteers will take care of children in a local relief center while parents sign up for aid.
Convention messengers totaled 1,302, the smallest number in years, at First Baptist Church, Jackson, below last year’s registration of 1,456.
The closing session, marked in recent years by small attendance, was much larger this year, perhaps augmented by the appearance of popular radio preacher David Jeremiah of the syndicated program “Turning Point.”
Re-elected as convention officers were Dean Register, president, pastor of Temple Baptist Church, Hattiesburg; Kenneth Rhodes, first vice president, director of missions for Pearl River Baptist Association; Paul Blanchard, second vice president, director of missions for Winston Baptist Association; Gus Merritt, recording secretary, retired pastor and member of First Baptist Church, Newton; and Michael Weeks, associate recording secretary, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Olive Branch.
A 1999 Cooperative Program budget of $26,607,890 was approved. Budget committee chairman Bobby Kirk, a lay member of Roundaway Baptist Church, Doddsville, reported Mississippi Baptists continue to lead in missions emphases.
Kirk pointed out Mississippi Baptists, comprising 2.67 percent of all Southern Baptists, gave 11 percent of the 1997 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions.
The new Cooperative Program budget includes $9,844,919, or 37 percent, for Southern Baptist causes, the same percentage allocated for a number of years.
That amount will send $4.5 million to the International Mission Board and $2 million to the North American Mission Board.
In addition to funds for the six seminaries, the SBC operating budget, the Annuity Board, and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, another four items in the Southern Baptist causes section will go under directly funded missions.
The four items include home mission work in Mississippi, which has had separate funding for several years and will be funded in 1999 with $251,483, or .95 percent.
The other three items are each funded for the first time at $133,039, or one-half percent each. They are international missions (World A — nations where missionaries are not officially allowed to go); international partnership missions and North American partnership missions.
The partnership missions funds will help Mississippi Baptists link up with mission needs in the Ukraine and in Maryland and Delaware over the next three years.
Should 1999 giving exceed the anticipated $26.6 million, the following four entities will receive all additional funds in these pre-arranged percentages: Christian higher education, 50 percent; international missions, 30 percent; North American missions, 10 percent; and Mississippi missions, 10 percent.
The constitutional and bylaw changes complete a three-year process of moving to allow joint nomination of trustees by the committee on nominations and the trustee boards of Mississippi College, William Carey College, Blue Mountain College, Mississippi Baptist Health Systems and the Baptist Children’s Village.
The changes also allow for between 15 and 24 trustees, call for a covenant of cooperation with Mississippi Baptists to be signed each year by trustees, and for permission for the trustees to change the charters of their institutions, but not their relationship with the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
The constitution and bylaws committee, chaired by David Sellers, pastor of Tylertown Baptist Church, Tylertown, reported no recommendation for action from a request by the Mississippi Conference of Directors of Missions.
That request was to allow DOMs to be elected to boards and agencies of the convention. Sellers said it would be a conflict of interest for DOMS to serve because associations receive convention funds and trustees serve on committees which deal with thousands of dollars in funds.
Messengers voted to dedicate the 1998 convention annual to the memory of Mississippi humorist Jerry Clower who died recently.
Prayer was the topic of several messages, including one of the Bible devotionals by Bill Tolar, professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
Tolar said that prayer is “the least practiced discipline and the most overlooked source of power.”
Closing speaker, radio preacher David Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, El Cajon, Calif., said that God has “hardwired his universe” through prayer.
Earlier, President Dean Register concluded his message with a call to prayer, asking all participants to go to their knees.
The 1999 Mississippi Baptist Convention will be Oct. 26-27 at First Baptist, Jackson.

    About the Author

  • Tim Nicholas