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Messianic Fellowship to revise governing documents

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – The Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship determined at its annual meeting Sunday, June 12, at The Disciple Center in Anaheim, to revise its organizational documents to tighten its relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The group had gathered in conjunction with the SBC’s 2022 annual meeting at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“We’re rebuilding our fellowship,” Ric Worshill told Baptist Press. Worshill is the volunteer executive director of the Messianic Fellowship and a NAMB-endorsed Chaplain Ambassador who coordinates with Southern Baptist chaplains in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia.

“We want to make it [the Messianic Fellowship] more directly Southern Baptist and more protective of sexual and spiritual [abuse] victims because of what’s going on in the world,” Worshill said, referring to an increase in antisemitism and in legal challenges related to sexual abuse.

The Fellowship’s meeting was conducted live and on Zoom and was recorded so members unable to get to southern California – most who attended paid more than $1,200 in airfare – could watch the discussion at their convenience.

“We are refocusing and revisioning the content of our constitution, bylaws and personal documents to comply to the new SBC plan based on the motions from today,” Worshill said Tuesday evening. “Due to the motions passed today we would like to be one mind and one body and one spirit with the SBC’s new processes.”

Over the next year, the Messianic Fellowship’s constitution, bylaws and personnel code will be rewritten and updated.

“We’re refocusing,” Worshill said. “We plan to evaluate our values, our mission and our function as a Southern Baptist affiliate.

“We’re not doing this on our own,” the executive director continued, mentioning the help of the ERLC, Alliance Defending Freedom and the SBC Executive Committee’s Code of Ethics. “We want it to be 100 percent legal and 100 percent protective to the group. We want to have authority over bad conduct.”

The Fellowship’s name will remain unchanged. The seven main leaders and regional directors will continue this year as previously elected. All serve as volunteers and pay their own way to the annual meeting.

According to the Messianic Fellowship’s website – sbmf.net – “A Messianic Congregation is a fellowship of Jews and Gentiles who believe that Yeshua is the true Jewish Messiah promised by God through the writings of the Hebrew Scriptures, and who worship within the framework of traditional Jewish patterns.”

Messianic congregations are scattered across the nation, Worshill said, though often they meet for weekly worship in homes, called Chavarims, a Hebrew word that means “gathering” or “friendships.” Some groups meet on the Sabbath (Saturdays); some on the Lord’s Day (Sundays).

“We’re Judeo-Christians,” Worshill explained with a grin that grew serious. “We view spiritual things from the Jewish side of the mountain, and Gentiles view the same things from their side of the mountain. Then we talk it out, and in the end, we both have a three-dimensional – or more exact – view.”

Worshill used the first two verses of Genesis 1 as an example. “In the beginning, Elohim ….” Elohim is a masculine plural word, referring to the triune God, he said. “As a Jewish person, I thought Christians prayed to three gods. Now I understand.”

The Messianic Fellowship’s officers, elected in 2018, will continue for another year as they work together to revise and update the governing documents.

President is Bruce Stokes of California; vice president and director of missions is Mike Saffle of Alaska; missions development manager is Mike Herts of New York; ministry development manager is Randall Clark of Texas; ministry training manager is Trevor Embry of California; acting treasurer is Hal Garrett of Arkansas; and secretary is Connie Saffle of Alaska.