OCEAN CITY, Md. (BP)–Messengers to the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s Nov. 10-11 annual meeting approved an operating document affirming churches that adopt the “Baptist Faith and Message 2000 or 1963 or other similar statement in accord with the beliefs expressed in those Southern Baptist documents.”
The motion brought some discussion about the wording of the operating document’s criteria for an affiliating church.
Henry Green from Heritage Baptist Church in Annapolis, Md., said the operating document does not “enlarge the tent but closes the tent.” Green called the document “a document of division, not unity.”
Keith Koch, pastor of United Baptist Church in New Carrollton, Md., said the document doesn’t take away a church’s autonomy but provides a guideline of the convention’s constituency and purpose.
“Any church can go with it or not. They’re free to do what they choose,” Koch said. “You have to have some sort of guideline of what’s a dog and what’s a cat and what’s a Baptist and what isn’t.”
Don Satterwhite, pastor of Middle River Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., proposed an amendment to strike the words “or similar statement” from the document. The amendment was debated and failed.
Messengers re-elected Tim Simpson, pastor of Greenridge Baptist Church in Clarksburg, Md., as president and Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., as first vice president. James Moore, pastor of Hampden Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., was elected second vice president. All were unopposed. Gayle Clifton, pastor of Olney (Md.) Baptist Church, was re-elected recording secretary.
A BCMD budget of $6,426,259 was approved, a 3 percent increase over the current year. The amount given to the Cooperative Program remains at 41 percent. A Skycroft Conference Center budget of $1,458,936 also was approved.
The 439 messengers representing 153 churches approved a recommendation including the following elements:
— To encourage each church in the convention to promote worldwide ministry through the Cooperative Program by observing Cooperative Program Day in April and Cooperative Program Month in October.
— To challenge each church to adopt a budget in which a specific percentage of the total budget is given through the Cooperative Program and to the local association, with the percentage increasing annually. Churches are encouraged to begin with an allocation of at least 10 percent of their total budget for the Cooperative Program and at least 5 percent to the association.
— To approve the observance of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, the Mother’s Day Offering for Baptist Family and Children’s Services and the Maryland/Delaware Missions Offering.
— To encourage churches to support the Legacy of Faith campaign to provide funds for new church starts.
— To challenge churches to send BaptistLIFE to every member of their church as a free source for information, inspiration and encouragement concerning their cooperative mission as Maryland/Delaware Baptists.
Messengers approved a recommendation to revise Article III, Section 2 on membership in the BCMD constitution. The revised wording now reads: “Each cooperating Baptist church will be entitled to two messengers; each cooperating church exceeding 50 members will then be given one additional messenger for each additional 50 members or part thereof; or one additional messenger for each $750 contributed to the work of this convention through the Cooperative Program until the maximum of 30 is reached.”
Five resolutions passed unanimously:
— A resolution on the family affirmed the traditional biblical family as “the center of Christian nurture, training and instruction.” Messengers expressed appreciation for organizations and ministries that “uphold the standards of God concerning proper moral and family values” and resolved that the biblical “standards and moral values of devotion to God, the traditional family unit, respect for authority, obedience to divine commands, self-discipline, self-control and love should be modeled and taught.”
— A resolution in support of the Boy Scouts of America encouraged Southern Baptist churches “to pray for, stand with and offer assistance to both the local troop leaders and national officers of the Boy Scouts of America.”
— A resolution on gambling opposed “any and all who seek to use gambling as a selfish means of gaining an economic and political advantage at the expense of our families” and encouraged churches and individual Christians “to become prayerfully and actively involved in defeating any new legislation introduced into the state legislatures of Maryland and Delaware which would in any way enlarge gambling in those states.”
The resolution also said that “as David stood against Goliath the giant, we in that same spirit vow from this day forward not to allow the gambling lobbyists to have the final word on this battle as we have truth, justice and God on our side.”
— A resolution on homosexual behavior and same-sex “marriages” affirmed that biblical marriage can occur only between one man and one woman and said Maryland/Delaware Baptists stand “in steadfast opposition to any court or state legislature attempting to validate or legalize same-sex ‘marriage’ or any other equivalent unions.”
The resolution further stated that messengers commit to “prayerfully support our Anglican brothers and sisters who are devastated by the recent actions of their church leadership and are now faced with significant and irrevocable decisions in response.”
Messengers called upon all Christians to demonstrate their love for those practicing homosexuality by recognizing the value and dignity of individual sinners to God and by sharing with them the forgiving and transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than tolerate and enable deadly and sinful behavior.
— A resolution on annuitants encouraged all member churches of the BCMD to prayerfully consider adopting one or more deserving retired ministers with a gift of $100 per month.
Messengers also recognized John Faris for serving the convention for 15 years, currently as the director of finance/treasurer and director of the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware, and Bobby Waddail for ministering to college students for 25 years, currently serving at Towson University and the University of Maryland.
Delivering the convention sermon, Harold Phillips, pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Port Deposit, Md., challenged messengers to know their task. The current age of prosperity, he said, has caused people to want rather than give, even to the point of telling others what they can gain from Jesus Christ.
“A person should become a Christian because Jesus died and deserves worship — not because of what He’s given, but because of who He is,” Phillips said.
In the president’s sermon, Tim Simpson talked about James and John and their requests to sit on the right and left of Christ.
“For true greatness we need to aspire to serve others,” Simpson said. “Because He is in us, selfishness decreases, service increases.”
David Lee, executive director of BCMD, delivered a message called “The Jury Is Still Out,” speaking about the ship of dreams — the Titanic — and describing its beauty and strength and its ultimate failure. When Lee first joined the BCMD staff, he said, he asked some key leaders what he needed to know and do in order to be effective.
“A leader responded, ‘Personally, I believe that the state convention is a Titanic.’ He went on to express his feelings about state convention work. It was not a pretty picture!” Lee recounted.
“Obviously, I was not dissuaded by his assessment. Once in a while, however, I will read or see something that makes me wonder whether or not he was right,” he said. “It has been a challenging year for denominational entities. IMB has cut missionary positions. NAMB has cut staff and scaled back programs. Several state conventions have had to cut staff. We, too, got off to a tough start financially in 2003. Praise the Lord. We have recovered. And as you heard in the reports, God has blessed in spite of what we have experienced economically.
“It has been a wakeup call to all of us. In fact, the verdict is not in on our future. The decisions and choices you and I make in the next days, months and years will determine whether or not ours is a Titanic journey,” Lee said.
“Incidentally, I did respond to that BCMD leader who called our convention a Titanic,” Lee continued. “My exact words were these, ‘I do not believe we are the Titanic. I believe we are better described as a large aircraft carrier. It may take us awhile, but if we can get turned into the wind, we can launch some mighty Kingdom firepower!'”
Peter Williams, director of the Baptist Union of Scotland, joined Lee in signing a partnership agreement with the BCMD at the annual meeting. Williams then presented Lee with a tartan tie and gave Lee’s wife, Sherry, a matching scarf.
In keeping with the convention theme, “Homecoming — Celebrating Life in the Family of God,” Lee announced the BCMD general mission board’s decision to name former executive director Charles Barnes “executive director emeritus” and to rename the Skycroft Conference Center building in his honor.
This year’s meeting was held in Ocean City, Md., at the Clarion Resort Fontainbleau. Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 15-16 at the Sheraton Hotel in Dover, Del.
With reporting by Shannon Baker, Sharon Mager, Bob Simpson & Iris White.