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Indiana Baptists increase CP, address sexual abuse

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (BP) — A budget increase — and added support for Southern Baptist missions and ministries — were approved by the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana during their Oct. 28-29 annual meeting.

Messengers also addressed the SBC-wide issue of sexual abuse through a motion and two resolutions.

The 2020 SCBI budget of $3,924,424 is an increase of 1.17 percent from the current budget. Meanwhile, the convention raised its Cooperative Program percentage to support SBC causes to 36 percent from the current 35 percent.

A total of 188 messengers from 94 of the SCBI’s 445 cooperating churches and 51 guests attended the two-day meeting at Highland Lakes Baptist Camp in Martinsville with the theme “Encourage Pastors” drawn from Hebrews 3:13.

The SCBI Executive Board’s affirmation of an Indiana Send Network church planting partnership with the North American Mission Board was relayed to messengers, and the convention celebrated the first year of its Mile Markers 2025 initiative by seeing a growing response to evangelism and revitalization in 2019, which will carry into 2020 with an emphasis on equipping churches and giving through the Cooperative Program.

Regarding sexual abuse, messengers adopted a motion requesting that the convention’s president and Executive Board “continue to seek ways to encourage Indiana Baptist churches (1) to address the issue of sexual abuse, (2) to utilize the training and conference materials on sexual abuse provided by the ERLC, and (3) to accept the Caring Well challenge set forth by the SBC Sexual Abuse Advisory Group.”

In noting the ERLC, the motion by Todd Benkert, pastor and lead elder of Oak Creek Community Church in Mishawaka, was referencing the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The Caring Well Challenge, at https://caringwell.com, is an initiative of the ERLC within the SBC to call churches to a commitment to prevent sexual abuse and to care for abuse survivors.

In a resolution titled “On Church Cooperation in Dealing with Sexual and Physical Abuse,” messengers voted to implore churches to be proactive in preventing abuse and to raise up advocates both to walk alongside victims and to guide churches through the process of dealing with abuse should it arise.

Messengers also pledged in the resolution to bring to light “deeds of darkness as Scripture demands” and to “support one another in sharing our knowledge and resources….”

A second resolution, “On Responding to Sexual Abuse,” recapped actions by the SBC such as the Caring Well Challenge and urged “all of our churches to make addressing the sexual abuse crisis a priority in the coming year.” It urged pastors, churches and church leaders to equip themselves to deal with the sexual abuse crisis, including considering the adoption of the Caring Well Challenge.

The resolution concluded with a call to “work together to make every Indiana Southern Baptist church a place where all people can find hope and healing in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In a resolution of appreciation, messengers thanked Gasburg Baptist Church and Plainfield Baptist Church for “their gracious hospitality and service to the messengers and guests of this convention.”

Three convention officers were unanimously elected to a second term: president Bobby Pell, pastor of NorthWoods Church in Evansville; first vice president Randy Forsythe, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Portage; and second vice president Josh Goepfrich, pastor of Warsaw Baptist Church in Warsaw.

Steve Taylor, unanimously elected as recording secretary, is pastor of Northeast Park Baptist Church in Evansville.

John Newland, senior pastor of Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis, delivered the annual sermon. O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources, was among the convention’s featured speakers.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 19-20 at Calvary Baptist Church in West Lafayette. Brian White, lead pastor of Harvest Church in Carmel, will deliver the annual sermon.