LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Messengers to the Kentucky Baptist Convention in Louisville launched a major evangelistic initiative, spoke out on gambling and violent crime and tasked their credentialing committee with monitoring potential actions by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Meeting at Highview Baptist Church’s east campus Nov. 14, they also elected a western Kentucky pastor as their president and set a Cooperative Program budget goal of $21.5 million for 2018-2019.
Gospel Conversation Challenge
In his address, KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood issued the “Gospel Conversation Challenge,” an initiative of the North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee to initiate 1 million Gospel conversations over the next year.
“The GC Challenge, as it’s being called,” Chitwood said, “invites every church to set a goal for the number of Gospel conversations and post that goal on the GC Challenge website at gcchallenge.com.”
The objective, he explained, is to make people think intentionally about sharing the Gospel by looking for opportunities to strike up conversations with unchurched people.
“The concept is quite simple: we want to challenge 750,000 Kentucky Baptists to tell their relatives, friends, co-workers, neighbors, everyone about Jesus — to tell them what He has done for them,” Chitwood said in an earlier news release. “The potential impact is incredible. If every church accepts this challenge, we could turn our state upside down for Christ.”
Chitwood also asked Kentucky Baptists to pray for a Harvest Crusade in Pikeville that will be held in conjunction with the 2018 KBC annual meeting.
In adopting four resolutions, Kentucky Baptists again spoke out against gambling. They opposed the state legislature’s latest proposal to legalize casino gambling to raise funds for the state government’s pension system.
In the gambling resolution, messengers urged the state’s political leaders to “curtail all forms of destructive gambling, and to address its harmful effects through policy and legislation.”
Calling convention leaders, entities and pastors to educate Southern Baptists on the “deceptive sin of gambling,” the resolution called followers of Christ not to participate.
“Gambling violates the principle of neighbor-love, necessitating the financial loss and harm of many for the gain of a few,” the resolution stated.
A resolution encouraging intercessory prayer on behalf of “a people who desperately need [God’s] intervention” was adopted in light of “cataclysmic storms, mass shootings, daily violence in cities across the land, heartache caused by an epidemic of substance abuse, and other factors that have brought pain and suffering for people of all ages, including helpless children.”
Another resolution urged Kentucky legislators to pass Marsy’s Law, a bill that would expand the legal rights of crime victims. Similar legislation has been passed in other states. The bill is named for a California woman who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend.
“Marsy’s Law seeks to correct [an] imbalance of justice by establishing some key constitutional basic rights for victims of crime such as the right to be heard, right to notice of proceedings, the right to be present at proceedings, and standing to enforce these rights,” the resolution stated.
Charles Frazier, pastor of Zion’s Cause Baptist Church in Benton, was elected by acclamation as convention president. KBC messengers elected a Louisville pastor and a western Kentucky director of missions to serve as vice presidents.
Serving in pastoral ministry for 25 years, Frazier has led four Kentucky Baptist churches, noted Bowling Green pastor Tom James in nominating Frazier. Zion’s Cause has been recognized by NAMB as among the fastest growing churches in the state.
A former member of the KBC Mission Board, Frazier has served as chairman of the board’s budget and finance committee and as vice chairman of the administrative committee. He was appointed this year to serve on the SBC Executive Committee.
Nate Bishop, lead pastor of Forest Baptist Church, a predominantly African American congregation in Louisville, was elected as first vice president. Paxton Redd, director of missions for Little River Baptist Association in Cadiz, was elected by acclamation as second vice president. Bob Whitter, pastor of First Baptist Church of Loyall, was the other candidate in the first vice president race.
During a business session, KBC messengers commissioned their Committee on Credentials to monitor the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s study of whether to change its policies to allow hiring individuals in a homosexual lifestyle. The committee was charged with bringing a report to next year’s annual meeting in Pikeville.
Ed Amundson, pastor of High Street Baptist Church in Somerset, made the motion, calling for the KBC’s Committee on Credentials to study the moral and theological positions embraced by the CBF, and to determine if churches affiliated with the Fellowship should be allowed to cooperate with the KBC.
The CBF’s six-member Illumination Project Committee, which has been charged with recommending how the Fellowship can remain united despite diverse opinions on homosexuality, is expected to announce specific policy proposals in February.
Meanwhile, nearly 600 people, including several former CBF moderators, have signed a petition calling for the Fellowship to “remove its discriminatory hiring policy,” which, according to CBF governing documents, forbids “the purposeful hiring of a staff person or the sending of a missionary who is a practicing homosexual.”
The CBF was founded in 1991 as a fellowship of churches that objected to the ideology and methods of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Conservative Resurgence. The Fellowship claims about 1,800 churches are affiliated with the organization, including 56 churches in Kentucky. Of those, 45 cooperate with the KBC.
Messengers approved a $500,000 decrease to the convention’s CP budget goal, based upon receipts from KBC churches for the previous fiscal year. Chitwood said the decision to lower the 2018-2019 goal was made to be realistic regarding national trends which reflect a decline in giving.
For 2016-2017, Kentucky Baptists gave $21,678,271 though the Cooperative Program and an additional $8,766,984 through special offerings for state, national and international missions work, according to KBC Finance and Business Services Team Leader Lowell Ashby.
The 2018-19 budget will equally divide CP receipts from churches between KBC missions and ministries and SBC causes, allotting 45 percent, or $10.75 million, for each. The KBC and SBC will share a 10 percent designation for Cooperative Program Resourcing, setting aside a combined $2.15 million.
“These [CP] funds are crucial for keeping international missionaries in places that the average congregation would never have an opportunity to reach working alone,” Chitwood reminded Kentucky Baptists.
“By partnering through the Cooperative Program, Kentucky Baptists are, at this moment, helping hurricane victims in Florida and Texas, planting new churches in Kentucky and elsewhere, helping orphaned children, sharing the Gospel with students in colleges and universities across the state, helping to train the next generation of ministers and missionaries, revitalizing churches that have fallen into decline, encouraging pastors, training church leaders and so much more,” Chitwood said.
In other convention action:
— Charles Barnes, a lifelong Kentucky Baptist who has been involved in the state convention’s top levels of leadership for decades, received the Cooperative Program Leadership Award. Barnes, a member of Hurstborne Baptist Church in Louisville, is a past KBC president, has been a board member of several KBC and SBC entities and served multiple terms on the KBC Mission Board.
— Adam Greenway, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was selected to deliver next year’s convention sermon.
— Marlana VanHoose, a member of Liberty Baptist Church near Paintsville, Ky., who performed at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, shared her musical talents by leading KBC messengers in worship.