UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (BP) — The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s 182nd annual meeting for a second year focused on unity and prayer with the theme, “United in Prayer, Seeking Christ’s Spirit.”
Messengers approved a $7,729,121 budget, taking a historic step in voting to increase the Cooperative Program funding allocation from 43.5 percent to 48 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention to fund international and national missions, Southern Baptist seminaries and the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
General Mission Board President Curtis Hill explained that the convention has been making incremental progress toward a goal of 51 percent forwarded to the SBC by 2020. Hill said there was a desire to “move the needle higher this year.”
Hill said regarding the approval, “I’m very encouraged by that, not just as the General Mission Board president, but also as a pastor leading my church to give to CP through the BCM/D.”
The proposed budget also includes $2,364,785 for BCM/D’s Skycroft Conference Center and $150,000 for the State Missions Offering for key missions and evangelism ministries/strategies, including camp evangelism, church planting, collegiate ministry, disaster relief, and special needs ministries.
This year’s meeting, attended by 287 messengers and 141 guests Nov. 12-13 at Kettering Baptist Church’s new “Legacy Center” in Upper Marlboro, packed preaching, training, a “Unity” luncheon, a panel discussion on reaching millennials, affinity dinners, fellowship and business into less than a day and a half. BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith proposed the shortened format to make the meeting more convenient to all, especially bivocational pastors and those with young families.
Michael Trammell, senior pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church, was reelected as convention president as was the first vice president, Rick Hancock, associate pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Huntingtown, Md. Thomas Winborn, pastor of Welsh Memorial Church in Frostburg, Md., was elected second vice president. David Gaines, pastor of Manna Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore, will continue to serve as recording secretary with his wife Tracey as assistant recording secretary.
Smith read a passage from John 17, Jesus’ high priestly prayer, to set the tone of prayer and unity through the meeting: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Smith said, “I look and see different ethnicities, generations, hairstyles, clothing, some people looking young and energetic, some fading … I see all of this coming together for the glory of Jesus Christ and a healthy reminder of the Lord’s prayer — the emphasis on unity and the connection to the Father.”
In addition to Smith and Trammel, keynote speakers were Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee; D.A. Horton, pastor of Reach Fellowship in North Long Beach, Calif.; Jarrett Stephens, teaching pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.
Stephens, addressing the convention’s inaugural unity lunch, emphasized the need for a fervent prayer life. “The battle is raging,” he said, adding that Satan wants marriages in the church to fail, and for men to be consumed with things that aren’t the priority for building the Kingdom of God.
“Satan wants your purity. The target is on your chest. Don’t be lulled to sleep. This is a high and holy calling…,” Stephens said.
Horton encouraged leaders to stay dependent on Jesus, saying, “It’s our job to be the church, not build the church. Jesus is the master architect of this church.”
Smith warned leaders to flee idolatry. “Is there anyone or anything that I serve more than God? Is there anything or anyone I would not give up for God if He commanded? Is there anything or anyone I meditate on more than I meditate on God? The answers identify idols,” he said. Smith said America doesn’t build golden calves but has the idols of power, sex and money.
Trammell, in a presidential address drawn from Colossians 1, told pastors they must preach about who Jesus is. “Jesus is preeminent and He is to have preeminence in the church,” Trammel said. “It’s not about us, it’s about Jesus.”
Page, before delivering the convention’s closing message, said the churches in BCM/D are generous, giving $61.5 million to national and international mission causes since the beginning of the Cooperative Program.
Page urged leaders to avoid useless, hopeless gimmicks, but to pray, “God, may we live a life of humility, grace and growth instead of forcing it, faking it or forgetting it.”
The music group The Nelons led worship Sunday evening and Monday morning, sharing a variety of old hymns, southern gospel and original music. Martin Guraesko, worship pastor at First Baptist Church of Delaware, and his team led worship time for the remainder of the sessions.
Messengers approved a resolution thanking Kettering Baptist Church and their pastor Bucas Sterling III for hosting the annual meeting as well as acknowledging the hospitality of First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro and their pastor Zachariah Schlegel for providing space for childcare and other activities at the annual meeting with warmth, graciousness and kindness.
The 2018 BCM/D annual meeting currently is scheduled for Nov. 11-12 at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Bel Air, Md.