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Mich. Baptists hear ‘unchanging message for a changing world’

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LUDINGTON, Mich. (BP)–God uses dedicated lives to reach people, Executive Director Michael Collins told messengers to the Baptist State Convention of Michigan’s annual meeting, under the theme “An Unchanging Message for a Changing World.”

Highlighting God’s work in Michigan, Collins identified some “hot spots” in the state where new congregations are needed, urging Michigan Baptists to “a dedicated life” in which they step up to the challenge and, where needed, “do things in a different way.”

Roy Fish, interim president of the North American Mission Board, delivered Bible studies during each session of the meeting, and R. Philip Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., gave the closing message focusing on the Apostle Paul’s motives in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.

Missionary Sharon Hessling relayed information on Michigan’s partnership with Niger, now in its second year, noting how Michigan Baptists have been involved through mission trips and special giving that directly impacts families in the West Africa nation.

Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama State Board of Missions, delivered a message of encouragement as Michigan Baptists enter a partnership with Alabama.

Messengers approved an overall budget of $3.5 million for 2007, which reflects a slight increase of $29,222. Anticipated Cooperative Program giving from Michigan churches for the coming year is $1.7 million, with the percentage to be forwarded for national and international missions and ministries raised from 30 percent to 30.5 percent.

Herb Harbaugh, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Sterling Heights, was elected president by one vote in a race with Ken Render, pastor of Lakeside Community Church in St. Clair Shores.

All other officers were elected by acclimation: Roscoe Belton, pastor of Middlebelt Baptist Church in Inkster, first vice president; Rich Ratts, pastor of The Orchard Church in Traverse City, second vice president; and Art Werry, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Fraser, recording secretary.

Messengers passed one resolution in which they encouraged Baptists to engage public education in order to influence the culture rather than running from it.

Two constitutional amendments were read and will be addressed again in 2007. Both were brought by Jimmy Jones, pastor of First Baptist Church in Trenton. One deals with not seating messengers from churches who endorse or affirm homosexuality, and the other calls for adding a messenger for each $1,000 a church gives through the Cooperative Program.

The Oct. 31-Nov. 2 meeting at a Ramada Inn in the Lake Michigan community of Ludington included 181 messengers and 45 guests from 90 churches and 15 Baptist associations.

Next year’s annual meeting, which will celebrate the 50th year of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan, will be Nov. 6-8 at Sunrise Baptist Church in Midland.

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  • Julie Scheving