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Md./Del. Baptists set sights ‘for Christ’s glory’

OCEAN CITY, Md. (BP) –- In its 184th annual meeting, the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware convened in Ocean City, Md., at the oceanfront Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel.

“Maryland/Delaware & the Nations for Christ’s Glory” was the theme for the Nov. 10-11 sessions, which also aimed to provide encouragement to BCM/D pastors, especially those in declining or plateauing churches.

“Let us come together and say, ‘Jesus is Lord, and He is worthy to be praised,'” Kevin Smith, the convention’s executive director, said in welcoming 392 messengers and 94 guests.


During short business sessions, messengers unanimously reelected officers and adopted the 2020 budget.

Harold Phillips, senior pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Port Deposit, Md., was reelected as BCM/D president along with first vice president Glenn Swanson, senior pastor of Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach, Md.; second vice president Andy Ehlers, senior pastor of High Tide Baptist Church in Dagsboro, Del.; recording secretary Stephanie Laferriere, a member of The Garden Church in Baltimore; and assistant recording secretary Mike Fillis, pastor of Fenwick Island Baptist Church in Selbyville, Del.

Frank Duncan, president of the BCM/D General Mission Board, referred to the convention’s Skycroft Conference Center in Middletown, Md., as a blessing, noting 51 professions of faith there so far in 2019.

Duncan, lead pastor of Paramount Baptist Church in Hagerstown, Md., also emphasized the convention’s support for church strengthening and planting.

Messengers adopted a 2020 budget of $7,659,249 that includes an anticipated $3,650,000 in Cooperative Program gifts from BCM/D churches; $2,285,950 in total Skycroft receipts; $150,000 in state missions offering gifts; and $980,000 from NAMB.

The 2020 budget represents a 1 percent increase over 2019 and allocates 48 percent of CP receipts to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries, unchanged from last year.

Speakers and more

Keynote speakers were Mark Clifton, senior director of church replanting for the North American Mission Board (NAMB); Thom Rainer, founder and CEO of Church Answers; and James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., and host of “Touching Lives” telecast. Sam Rainer, pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church in Florida and president of Church Answers, led two breakout sessions.

Other highlights included the popular annual unity lunch; a NAMB young leaders discussion panel; an “Ocean City Flavored Fellowship” featuring popular local treats; and 13 breakout sessions.

David Aubrey, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Dover, Del., and the church’s praise team, led music and worship, mixing contemporary songs with classic hymns.

Phillips shared from Joshua 6, which tells of God’s command to Joshua to lead the Israelites in crossing the Jordan River to the Promised Land.

“Pastors, pastors’ wives, members, the battle is God’s. He has already won,” Phillips said, voicing God’s call for believers to have faith like Joshua to walk the road, discerning God’s will in obedience.

Clifton recounted that for most of his ministry he didn’t acknowledge his depression and anxiety until fellow leaders brought it to his attention.

“You are in a spiritual war,” Clifton told the convention. “He [Satan] will come at you with finances, health, your children, your marriage — everything.”

The solution, he said, is not trying harder, working harder, going to another conference, trying to model yourself after someone else. “It’s realizing you serve the risen Lord who has already defeated Satan.”

Rainer said God is calling churches to wake up and reach people for Jesus; to move from a preference-driven church to a Great Commission church; for leaders to set an example in taking first steps for reaching others; and for Christians today to obey and fear the Lord.

Merritt, quoting a line from the movie “Gladiator,” said, “What we do in life echoes through eternity.”

“The greatest impact you’ll ever make with your life,” Merritt said, “is to be open to caring for the needs of others and realizing that the greatest thing we have is God and to be able to share God with those who don’t know Him.”

The 2020 BCM/D annual meeting will be Nov. 8-9 at Covenant Baptist Church in Shepherdstown, W.Va.