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Ky. Baptists’ president elected without opposition, first since ’91

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (BP)–Paul Badgett, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pikeville, Ky., was elected president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention during the Nov. 12-13 annual meeting, marking the first time since 1991 a KBC president has been elected without opposition.

Eugene Siler, a federal judge and member of First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, was elected first vice president, also without opposition.

Darren Gaddis, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Corbin, edged out Jerry Wilkes, director of missions for the Elkhorn Baptist Association, for the office of second vice president in a 241-230 vote. Convention secretary Wilma Simmons, a member of Rock Haven Baptist Church in Brandenburg, was re-elected for another term.

A total Cooperative Program budget goal of $24,500,000 was approved for 2003-2004, unchanged from the current budget. An ongoing 64 percent of funds will be allocated for Kentucky Baptist missions and ministries and 36 percent for Southern Baptist national and international causes.

Messengers approved a recommendation by the constitution and bylaws committee to change the name of the KBC executive board to the mission board of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. The recommendation was first read at the 2001 annual meeting. The move is intended to reflect the board’s real work and purpose, explained Jerry Oakley, chairman of the constitution and bylaws committee. While “executive” connotes administrative duties, the word “mission” reflects the nature of the work carried out by the board.

Kentucky Baptists welcomed 21 new churches into fellowship, one of the largest numbers of new churches in recent years. The churches range in size from 20 members to 1,604 members and in age from three months to 134 years. The churches include 14 predominantly Anglo churches, four African American churches and one Korean church.

Messengers passed six resolutions: commemorating the upcoming 125th anniversary of Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union; commending volunteerism in eastern Kentucky missions; calling for churches to become “houses of prayer”; commending Kentucky Baptist colleges; promoting unity and cooperation among Kentucky Baptists; and appreciation for Cumberland College, South Union Mt. Zion Baptist Association, Williamsburg and other annual meeting planners and hosts.

Messengers also voted to reaffirm a 1996 resolution condemning partial-birth abortion.

Dan Garland, KBC evangelism growth team leader, reported on Cross Over Kentucky, a community service effort that preceded the annual meeting. Approximately 1,200 volunteers completed 15 service projects — including building an entire house — distributed 8,000 “Jesus” videos and completed 5,000 door-to-door surveys. Cross Over Kentucky reported 13 professions of faith and 36 rededications.

A number of speakers encouraged the messengers to “let the light shine,” the theme of the annual meeting.

KBC President Harold Greenfield, in his address used John 21 to urge Baptists to learn to love the Lord, feed his sheep and follow his lead.

“Don’t try to follow other things,” said Greenfield, retired director of missions for Caldwell-Lyon Baptist Association. “The whole world may say it’s all right to play the lottery, but you obey the Lord. The whole world may say it’s all right to cohabit, but you obey the Lord. The whole world may say it’s all right to have abortions, but you obey the Lord.

“We’re to follow Jesus. We’re not to follow an organization. We’re not even to follow a denomination. We’re not to follow man. We’re to follow Jesus. When you follow the Lord, the myths will begin to clear.”

Preaching from Ephesians 6:12, Craig Loscalzo, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, challenged messengers in his convention sermon to recognize that the battle they are fighting is “not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

“We have not taken the apostle Paul and Scripture seriously,” Loscalzo said. Listing a few of the things the church members often complain about, such as the worship length, clapping and temperature of sanctuaries, Loscalzo charged messengers not to spend all their energy on “putting out the fires” of angry members, but instead to remember their responsibility to “rightly divide the word of truth.”

Atheist-turned-apologist Frank Harber used Colossians 1:15-18 to ask Kentucky Baptists, “Who is number one?” Harber, who is pastor of First Baptist Church in Colleyville, Texas, pointed to God’s control over nature as proof of his preeminence and evidence of his existence.

Using the story of the wedding at Cana, evangelist Ken Smith urged Kentucky Baptists to make a difference in the world. An influential professor once reminded Smith that Jesus was not crucified in a church between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves.

“If you want to make a difference in the world, you’ve got to go to the world. Jesus was invited to the world,” Smith said.

A total of 1,545 people — including 1,236 messengers — attended the 165th annual meeting of the convention. Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 11-12 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington.

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  • Brenda Rick Smith