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Miss. Baptists, on the mend from Katrina, adopt record budget


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JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–A record Cooperative Program budget of $33,188,934 -– a 5.99 percent increase over the current year -– was approved without opposition during the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s Oct. 31-Nov. 1 annual meeting at First Baptist Church in Jackson.

Last fall, messengers voted to freeze the 2006 CP budget at the same level as 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation across the southern half of the state in August 2005. But, with recovery and rebuilding efforts underway, messengers signaled a new giving goal.

The 2007 CP budget will continue to forward 35 percent of Cooperative Program receipts from the convention’s 2,114 churches to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries.

Messengers also voted to permanently close the convention’s multi-million-dollar Gulfshore Baptist Assembly near Pass Christian and sell the property, after it was completely destroyed by a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina.

Larry Otis, chairman of the Conference Ministry Study Committee charged with making a recommendation for the facility’s future, told messengers that rebuilding estimates of more than $46,000,000, strict new building codes and post-Katrina insurance rates of over $1 million per year were among the factors that convinced the committee that restoring Gulfshore was unfeasible.


“After prayerful deliberation and analysis of conference ministry needs in Mississippi and the existing conditions at the Gulfshore Baptist Assembly site, replacement cost factors, governmental building codes and regulations, insurance costs and availability, the Conference Ministry Study Committee offers the following recommendation:

“That the Mississippi Baptist Convention relocate our primary conference facilities and offer the coastal property for sale, with proceeds made available for acquisition of a new site, design of facilities, and/or construction of conference facilities. Furthermore, we recommend that the implementation of this recommendation be entrusted to the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board,” Otis said.

Messengers voted 587-29 to accept the committee’s recommendation.

In other business, messengers elected Clarence Cooper, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Grenada, to a second term as convention president. Joel Medina, pastor of Iglesia Internacional Las Americas in Carthage, also was elected to a second term as first vice president. David Hamilton, pastor of West Heights Baptist Church in Pontotoc, was elected to a first term as second vice president. Retired pastor Gus Merritt of Newton was re-elected as recording secretary. All officers were elected without opposition.

Messengers also approved five resolutions, including support for the Mississippi Baptist Memorial to the Missing in Jackson, designed to draw attention to the 50 million babies that have been killed since abortion was legalized by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision; commendation for Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., for producing the Christian movie “Facing the Giants”; appreciation for the Conference Ministries Study Committee for their report on the future of MBC conference ministries and Gulfshore; and appreciation to First Baptist Church in Jackson for hosting the annual meeting.

Chuck Register, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gulfport, delivered the convention sermon. Also preaching were MBC President Clarence Cooper, Mississippi Baptist Convention Board Executive Director-Treasurer Jim Futral, and Fred Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.

A total of 1,126 messengers registered for the 2006 annual meeting, up slightly from the 1,110 who registered for the 2005 meeting. The 2007 annual meeting of the Mississippi Baptist Convention will be October 30-31 at First Baptist Church in Jackson.