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Indiana Baptists celebrate 50 years

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Indiana Baptists celebrated the 50th anniversary of the state convention Oct. 3-4 at Fall Creek Baptist Church and the Marriott East Hotel in Indianapolis.

In business sessions, 268 messengers from 99 churches voted to increase the percentage of Cooperative Program receipts they contribute to the Southern Baptist Convention’s national and international missions and ministries and approved a recommendation to separate their executive director-treasurer’s job description into two roles.

The 50th anniversary theme, “The vision is yet…,” drawn from Habakkuk 2:3, provided the focus for a Friday evening banquet that drew about 700 people, including former executive directors Mark Coppenger and Charles W. Sullivan. Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, and Geoff Hammond, president of the North American Mission Board, spoke to messengers during the evening.

Speaking from Hebrews 12:1-2, Chapman reminded that “life is a marathon, not a sprint.” He challenged the banquet audience to endure under the pressure of the race and to remember “the pre-occupation of the race — keeping your eyes on Jesus.” Hammond, drawing on 1 Peter 4:7, called on Indiana Baptists to focus on the “end-time ministry” of “every person sharing; every person hearing.”

Convention President William E. Bailey told messengers the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana had been organized with a clear vision that has yet to be fulfilled — preaching the Gospel to every person in Indiana. He challenged Indiana Baptists to prayerwalk every street and road and share the Gospel with every person.

Executive Director Stephen Davis reminded messengers of all the help Indiana Baptists have received over their first 50 years and expressed gratitude for each partner’s aid.

The convention’s 1 percent increase in giving through the Southern Baptist Convention’s unified giving plan brings Indiana’s annual contribution to 35.5 percent. The action follows Indiana Baptists’ commitment to increase their national CP contribution by 1 percent a year until a 50/50 division of funds is reached.

Messengers also approved bylaw changes recommended by their executive board to create a chief financial officer position out of the executive director-treasurer position and added an audit committee to the list of committees authorized by convention bylaws.

The $4.79 million budget approved by messengers represented a 2.1 percent increase over 2008 and anticipates Cooperative Program receipts of $2.93 million.

Messengers elected Alan Scott, pastor of Oakhill Baptist in Evansville as president; Scott Hobbs, pastor of First Baptist in Griffith; first vice president; Bobby Pell, pastor of NorthWoods Baptist Church in Evansville, second vice president; and Jayne Nichols, a member of Halteman Village Baptist Church in Muncie, recording secretary. Richard Wallen, music minister of First Baptist in Griffith, was voted convention music director.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 26-27 in Merrillville, hosted by Eastlake Baptist Church in Crown Point and the Northwest Baptist Association.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly, with information provided by staff members of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana.

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