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Mich. Baptists affirm 2000 BF&M ‘in word and spirit’

JACKSON, Mich. (BP)–Messengers to the 46th annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan affirmed “in word and spirit” the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message in a resolution regarding guidelines for requesting assistance from the state convention.

The resolution, passed by a large majority on a voice vote, recognized that “all individuals or churches receiving assistance must approve the Baptist Faith and Message as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention.” The SBC adopted the BF&M 2000 in June of that year.

In addition, the resolution noted that a “re-clarification of biblical truth and teaching is needed to respond to the current cultural controversies concerning same-sex marriage, the role of women, the nature of the family, and other issues of gender and sexuality.”

Messengers gathered at Grace Church in Jackson, Mich., Nov. 4-6 approved a budget of $3,534,427, not counting a separate $391,000 budget for the convention’s Bambi Lake Conference Center. The convention budget includes anticipated Cooperative Program giving by Michigan churches of $1,833,686, with 30 percent of that amount continuing to be given to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries.

The 265 messengers re-elected Robert Coverson, pastor of Second Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, as convention president. Also re-elected were Ron Emmerling, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Flint, first vice president, and Ken Render, pastor of Lakeside Community Church in St. Clair Shores, second vice president. August Peters, pastor of Frontier Baptist Chapel in Hillsdale, was elected recording secretary. All were elected by acclamation.

Under the theme “Michigan Southern Baptists Commit … Spread the Light!” messengers heard reports from Executive Director Michael Collins about his recent trips to Mumbai, India (formerly Bombay), and Costa Rica. Michigan Baptists will begin partnerships with the two countries in January.

In other news, messengers heard reports from four ministry areas within the convention. The evangelism ministry reported a projected fourth straight year of increased baptisms, the cooperative missions branch continued their “Light Up the Great Lakes” state emphasis, the church growth representatives announced a full slate of training events for the coming year, and the Bambi Lake Conference Center reported record attendance for the second consecutive year.

Among the other resolutions passed by messengers:

— A resolution on the family acknowledged the family as the “foundational unit of human society, established by the creational intent of God” and “rooted in God’s good gift of marriage, which the Creator defines as the lifelong union of one man and one woman.” Messengers noted that the Bible “affirms that such a family unit is God’s design for the nurturing of children” and “the neglect of God’s purposes for the family robs us of the joy and fulfillment that He intends for us.”

Understanding that the biblical model of the family is increasingly undermined by divorce, marital infidelity and “current attempts to redefine the family itself and to marginalize the importance of the nuclear family,” messengers committed to “building Kingdom Families by the recovery of the biblical understanding of the family and acknowledgement of the permanence and responsibilities of the marriage covenant.”

The resolution further stated that messengers call on Southern Baptist parents “to assume their responsibility as the primary protectors and instructors of their children and to devote themselves to instill godly disciplines in their own lives and in the lives of their children.”

Messengers also encouraged Southern Baptist churches to be “intentionally involved in strengthening marriages and families through faithful preaching and teaching, biblical premarital and family counseling, and restorative church discipline.”

— Regarding same-sex “marriage,” messengers proclaimed that “legal and biblical marriage can only occur between one man and one woman,” and they “oppose steadfastly all efforts by any court or state legislature to validate or legalize same-sex marriage or other equivalent unions.” Messengers committed to “pray for and support legislative and legal efforts to oppose the legalization of same-sex unions,” and they opposed “all efforts by media and entertainment outlets and public schools to mainstream homosexual unions in the eyes of our children.”

The resolution called on Southern Baptist churches in Michigan to “commit to guard our religious liberty to recognize and perform marriages as defined by the Bible” and called on Southern Baptists in Michigan “not only to stand against same-sex unions but also to demonstrate our love for those practicing homosexuality by sharing with them the forgiving and transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Three constitutional changes were addressed during the convention and will be voted on at the 2004 annual meeting involving 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, determining membership in the convention and eligibility of convention officers.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 2-4 at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Marquette, marking the first meeting in the upper peninsula in nearly two decades.
Adapted from an article by Julie Scheving.

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