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Indiana Baptists celebrate 40 years, embark on Guatemala partnership

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (BP)–While 253 messengers to Indiana Baptists’ annual meeting tended to the business at hand, they also celebrated the convention’s 40th anniversary.
The convention meeting, Oct. 26-28 at Graceland Baptist Church in New Albany, was marked by a host of messages praising God for what he has done in Indiana and challenging the messengers and guests about the task still ahead.
The spirit of celebration was noted in one of the resolutions passed by the convention, which reads in part: “Be it therefore resolved, that we praise the living God for the results that He has accomplished, and are thankful for His faithfulness in working through our churches during these past forty years; be it further resolved, that we will give obedience to the casting, pursuing, fulfilling and celebrating of the vision that God has given to us.”
Among other resolutions passed by the convention were support of the 1999 Indiana Billy Graham crusade and appreciation for George Jones, who, as a Mission Service Corps volunteer, has served as interim director for the Baptist Foundation of Indiana.
The annual business matters were conducted with no problems, with a 1999 Cooperative Program budget of $2,285,940.00 approved by the messengers. This amount is 1.01 percent higher than last year’s figure. Of this total, 32.5 percent will be forwarded to the SBC for convention causes, an increase of .25 percent over last year.
Elected as the convention’s new officers: Woody Cumbie, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Indianapolis, president; John Duncan, pastor of First Baptist Church, Jasper, first vice president; and Mike Thompson, pastor of Washington Avenue Baptist Church, Evansville, second vice president.
“My being elected president of the state convention is an honor to Northside Baptist Church, first of all,” Cumbie said. “The nomination presented by my friend Joel Ragains was mostly a testament to the vision, faith and heart of the people at Northside over the past five years.
“We have just celebrated the Lord’s hand on our convention in the past. I believe the best is yet to come. Together we can see the greatest advance of God’s kingdom our state has ever known,” Cumbie said.
Messengers approved a three-year partnership with Guatemala to begin in 1999 after the current partnership with Croatia officially ends. “Once in a while you have the sense that God has tailor-made something for a particular people at a specific time,” Cumbie said. “I believe that about the Indiana-Guatemala missions partnership. This is not an off-the-rack thing. Indiana and Guatemala are a perfect fit. Here’s why:
“First, the missionaries on the ground want us to do what we do best, evangelism and church planting. Second, the nation of Guatemala is accessible. Guatemala City is a five-hour flight from Chicago. Third, Guatemala is affordable. A round-trip ticket is about $600. I believe that we will see more Indiana Baptists involved and blessed by this missions partnership than any in the past.”
The only sad note came in the first miscellaneous business session when Cumbie reported to the convention a situation which may require action on the part of the convention, that University Baptist Church in Bloomington has called a woman as pastor. The Metro Baptist Association, of which the church had been a part, withdrew fellowship after a period of discussion with the church. This fact was reported to the convention’s executive board and SCBI Executive Director Charles Sullivan via letter by Metro Association moderator Gary Stump.
“The Metropolitan Association responded scripturally, patiently, courteously and as a result virtually unanimously to the regrettable decision of University Baptist to violate God’s Word by calling a female to be senior pastor,” Cumbie said.
The matter was brought before the executive board and, according to Article 9, Section 11, of the SCBI bylaws, was subsequently referred to the executive committee for consideration. No action will be taken by the convention until the annual meeting in 1999.
Said Cumbie, “As you know, in literally my last act as chairman of the state convention executive board, I referred this matter to the executive committee in keeping with the bylaws of the SCBI. My prayer is that we will follow the good model set by Metro moderator Gary Stump. We need to have a desire to redeem not to punish. The people of University Baptist are good people. Though I do not know her, I am confident that the lady who has been called as pastor is a good person who is trying to follow her own sense of God’s leadership. But even good people can make bad decisions.
“That is the purpose of accountability within the body of Christ. We bless each other when we humbly and lovingly hold each other to the clear teachings of Scripture,” Cumbie said. “My prayer is that both the people and the pastor of University Baptist will choose to heed the call of Scripture and fellow believers and undo this unfortunate decision.”
Next year’s meeting will be Oct. 25-27 at Calvary Baptist Church in Madison.

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  • Chip Bayer