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Hope among N.Y. Baptists includes growth of 50 churches in 3 years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–It was just a few short years ago that the Baptist Convention of New York was facing mounting debt and the possibility of closure. But today, New York Baptists face a much brighter future — one filled with financial stability and a growing ministry to towns, cities and schools throughout the Empire State, said J.B. Graham, executive director of the convention.

“God has blessed us far and above anything we ever suspected,” Graham said during a report he delivered at the February meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. “Many of you know the New York story. New York was really on hard times a few years ago. Many thought it would fold.

“Instead,” Graham said, “the Lord has blessed us. Instead of $280,000 in debt, now we have much more than that to the good in the bank.”

Graham was particularly excited about New York’s gifts to the Cooperative Program channel for funding missions and ministries.

“Last month we had the greatest CP month in the history of our convention,” he said. “God is blessing beyond human skills, beyond human giftedness; he is doing it.”

Graham’s update was marked by upbeat spiritual statistics of the work of Southern Baptists in New York. With more than 24 million people residing in the convention territory, Graham said about 18 million of those individuals are unsaved.

Amid such a challenge, there are “a little more than 370 [Baptist] churches and missions,” Graham said. “That represents a growth of about 50 churches in the last three years.

“We are very proud of that growth,” he said. “Some of our churches are struggling and most of them are in what I would call the teenage years.”

Others, he noted, were sick and “need desperately to be developed. The need is great.”

Still, Graham said the convention has grown through the difficult times of the past. “I think we had to become so intentionally dependent so that [God] could bless us,” Graham said. “So that he could show us that it was his doing and not anyone else’s.”

Graham encouraged his fellow Southern Baptists to pray for the college ministries being started on campuses across the state.

“We need your prayers to witness to these college students and combat the secular humanism they come in contact with,” Graham said. “We have only six or seven who are paid ministers to colleges, yet we have 23 campus ministry works.”

While New York Baptists are working hard to share the gospel, Graham said he hopes other Southern Baptists would pray about doing mission work in the state.

“Our churches won’t be able to feed you or house you because many are small,” he said. “But we welcome you to come to our state and help us share Christ.”

For information on mission opportunities in New York, contact the Baptist convention offices at (315) 433-1001.

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  • Todd Starnes