DOVER, Del. (BP)–With the theme “A Great Door Open, Answering God’s Call,” Maryland Baptists opened their annual meeting with a worship service that blended cultures and music from Hispanics, Koreans, African Americans and Anglos, including a rendition of “Lord I Life Your Name on High” sung simultaneously in English and Spanish.
Missionaries from Mexico, Scotland and the Middle East shared their hearts for the people of the world and told stories of sacrifices and victories.
Later in the convention, International Mission Board worker Carrie McDonnall’s testimony brought a standing ovation. McDonnall, her husband and three other workers were attacked by insurgents in Iraq on March 15. McDonnall was the only survivor.
Even after taking 20 bullets, losing three fingers and coping with incredible grief, McDonnall challenged the messengers, “When we don’t fear, we go. When we don’t fear, the Gospel is spread.”
During business sessions at the Nov. 15-16 meeting at the Sheraton Inn in Dover, Del., messengers elected James Nichols, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Glen Burnie, Md., as convention president; Lyn O’Berry, pastor of Linthicum Baptist Church in Linthicum, Md., first vice president; and Robert Lilly, pastor of Catonsville Baptist Church in Baltimore, second vice president. Messengers also re-elected Gayle Clifton, pastor of Olney Baptist Church in Olney, Md., recording secretary.
A BCMD budget of $6,451,334 was approved, which is a slight increase over the current year. The amount of Cooperative Program receipts forwarded to national and international Baptist causes remains at 41 percent. A Skycroft Conference Center budget of $1,518,373 also was approved.
David Lee, BCMD executive director, introduced James Futral, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, noting, “Mississippi Baptists have made a significant difference to Maryland/Delaware Baptists.” Funding from Mississippi Baptists provided a new Maryland/Delaware church planting initiative “what it needed to get off the ground.”
“This man [Futral] is my friend,” Lee said. He’s a friend to Maryland/Delaware Baptists.”
Futral responded with gratitude for the convention partnership.
“We intended to bestow bucket loads of blessings to you, but we have received barrelfuls of blessings,” Futral said.
The convention’s outgoing president, Ted Simpson, pastor of Greenridge Baptist Church in Clarksburg, Md., delivered an address on Matthew 9:35-38, noting how Jesus ministered in cities and villages, teaching and preaching and healing. Simpson said Jesus had compassion on the multitudes and told His disciples the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
“Park your car someday soon at your local mall and spend time seeing the crowds. Walk around inside and see all the people,” he said.
“If our multi-state convention will be successful in years to come, we have to have a passionate concern for families and see the people, see the faces. If we don’t, we’ll never make plans for them.”
Lee spoke from Jeremiah 12 for his message, noting that waves can be soothing and calm or they can knock a person off his feet.
“I see some waves approaching us which could greatly affect the way we do business as Maryland/Delaware Baptists,” he said. “I learned the hard way the first rule for dealing with waves is, ‘Never turn your back on a wave.’ We dare not ignore these. They could spell trouble for us. But handled correctly, these waves may give us the ride of our lives!”
Lee referred to five “waves” — postmodernity, amorality, the changing landscape, the stirring in cities and the next generation.
“Waves come and go,” Lee said. “I believe with all my heart that things are going to get worse. I am not a pessimist. I am a realist. I know what the Word of God says. I trust it, just like you do, to be our roadmap to the future.
“Some of the waves headed our way will cause us trouble,” Lee warned. “I believe our issue is the same as Jeremiah’s issue. The real issue is not God’s power or His willingness to act. It is about our resolve and our willingness to stay the course and ride the waves. If we are obedient to the will of God and choose wisely, we can ride these waves to victory in Jesus Christ.
“Hold on, my friends. Surf’s up. We may be about to experience the ride of our lives!”
John Faris, BCMD’s director of finance and development, reported that the convention’s Baptist Foundation is celebrating 150 years of service while currently managing $8.5 million and has generated more than $400,000 this year.
Over the past five years the foundation has given nearly $2 million for Baptist causes. Faris said the foundation serves in three areas: stewardship, church financial services and perpetual fund management. He presented Lee a check for $154,900 on behalf of the foundation to be used “for God’s glory and in planting churches in this area.”
Bob Gerstmyer, executive director of the BCMD’s Baptist Family and Children’s Services, said BFCS has experienced a season of unprecedented growth and expansion.
“I’ve never seen such a convergence of forces that have led to such a wide open door to the community,” Gerstmyer said.
Gerstmyer reported that the Good Samaritan 24-hour crisis hotline is now available and more than 200 families have been served in churches from all 11 associations. He also discussed new partnerships, linking suburban and city churches together to minister to needy families.
Wayne Kempson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Waldorf, Md., delivered the annual sermon, telling about a preacher who entered a restaurant the same time as an abortion doctor. The preacher opened the door for the doctor in order to show his goodness and then prayed a loud prayer telling God how much he valued life, Kempson said.
The abortion doctor sat in a corner, hung his head and said, “God have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“I’m not tempted to be a drug dealer, or to be part of the gay lifestyle or to be an abortion doctor, but every day of my life I’m tempted to be religious,” Kempson said.
“The Old Testament sin God hated was idolatry and worshiping other gods. What is that? It’s religion,” Kempson said.
“It doesn’t matter what you tell them — the latest politics, talk show view point — but if you don’t give them the grace of Jesus Christ, you’ve given them nothing,” he added.
“Wouldn’t it be something if a mighty people called Southern Baptists met late into the day on a Tuesday afternoon [at the convention] and one by one they said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner’?”
Next year’s meeting will be Nov. 14-15 at the Sheraton Hotel in Towson, Md.
Based on a report by Sharon Mager.