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Miss. Baptists hear pastors tell of Hurricane Katrina’s impact

JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–Special times of testimony were provided for pastors of churches devastated by Hurricane Katrina in late August during the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s Nov. 1-2 annual meeting at First Baptist Church in Jackson.

Among those who spoke during the “Surviving the Storms” segments were:

— Chuck Register of First Baptist Church in Gulfport.

— Rex Yancey of First Baptist Church in Pascagoula.

— Al Green Jr. of First Baptist Church in Bay St. Louis.

— LaRue Stephens of First Baptist Church in Long Beach.

Jim Futral, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, presented a tribute to the tens of thousands of volunteers who have worked on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Katrina.

New officers were elected by acclamation.

The new president, Clarence Cooper, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Grenada, was nominated by Matt Buckles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Vicksburg. Cooper is a well-known figure in Mississippi Baptist and Southern Baptist circles. He is immediate past president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. He also has served on a number of Mississippi Baptist and Southern Baptist committees. Cooper succeeds Gene Henderson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Brandon, who is completing his second term as president and is not eligible for re-election.

Joel Medina, pastor of Iglesia Internacional Los Americas in Carthage, made Mississippi Baptist history twice during the annual meeting when, as first vice president, he became the first Hispanic to preside over a convention session on Nov. 1 and then was elected by acclamation to his first full term in the post.

Medina, who also pastors a number of Hispanic church plants in central Mississippi, became the convention’s first-ever Hispanic officer when he was elected second vice president in 2004. He moved up to first vice president later in the year when Thad Moore resigned his pastorate in Meridian to pastor a church in Arkansas.

Gayle Alexander, pastor of First Baptist Church in Baldwyn, is the convention’s new second vice president, while recording secretary Gus Merritt, retired pastor of Clarke Venable Baptist Church in Decatur, was re-elected by acclamation.

International Mission Board worker Carrie McDonnall, who addressed the convention the evening of Nov. 1, recounted being ambushed by insurgents near Mosul, Iraq, while she, her husband, and three IMB coworkers were searching for locations for water wells. Her husband and co-workers were killed, and McDonnall suffered severe and lasting wounds that have required many surgeries. No one has ever been charged in the murders and assault.

McDonnall expressed surprise that some people seem not to understand that she would readily return to the work that nearly took her life, because of all the lost souls in Iraq still in need of the Gospel. “We must run into the darkness as Christ ran to us [when we were in darkness]. May our churches rise up and run into the darkness,” she said.

Tommy Hamill, a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Macon, recounted his capture by Iraqi insurgents during the Iraq War after a running gun battle involving his fuel convoy. As time dragged on during his captivity, he said he always felt the hand of the Lord on him and was sure of his safe return to his wife and family.

Ross Holleyman, a member of Trinity Baptist Church in Carthage, also gave a testimony describing how he has coped spiritually with the loss of his son, a member of the U.S. Special Forces, during combat in Iraq.

The convention sermon was preached by Mickey Dalrymple, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Columbus. Other keynote speakers included Jim Henry, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., and former two-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Thom Rainer, president-elect of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The 1,110 messengers to the 2005 MBC annual meeting adopted a 2006 Cooperative Program budget of $31,314,491, the same as the current year.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 31–Nov. 1 at First Baptist Church in Jackson. Chuck Register will deliver the convention sermon.
Adapted from reporting by William H. Perkins Jr., editor of The Baptist Record, newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

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