JACKSON, Miss. (BP) — Messengers to the 177th annual meeting of the Mississippi Baptist Convention reelected without opposition David Hamilton, pastor of West Heights Baptist Church in Pontotoc, to a second term as convention president and unanimously approved a Cooperative Program budget of $32,329,059 for the 2013 fiscal year.
The Oct.30-31 sessions at First Baptist Church in Jackson were attended by 920 messengers representing 457 churches.
Joe Pate, pastor of First Baptist Church in Greenwood, was elected without opposition to a first term as the convention’s first vice president. Donnie Stuart, pastor of Rock Bluff Baptist Church in Pelahatchie, was elected over Gary Wyatt, pastor of North Morton Baptist Church in Morton, for a first term as second vice president. Michael Weeks, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Olive Branch, and Jerry Bingham, missions director for Benton-Tippah Baptist Association in Ripley, were reelected without opposition as recording secretary and associate recording secretary, respectively.
For the first time since 2009, the Cooperative Program budget for next year does not reflect a decrease. While the budget is the same amount as the current year, convention leaders have been heartened by the halt in year-over-year declining budgets.
Funding for Southern Baptist causes remains steady in the new budget at $11,719,284 (36.25 percent). Likewise, funding for Mississippi Baptist entities is the same at $8,103,903 (25.06 percent) and for Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) ministries at $11,635,872 (36 percent). The church retirement and protection category rounds out the budget at $870,000 (2.69 percent) and is the same amount as the current budget.
Messengers approved a resolution commending the use of a Sinner’s Prayer as “a biblically sound and spiritually significant component of the evangelistic task of the church.” Two other resolutions commended Edward L. McMillan, longtime professor at Baptist-affiliated Mississippi College in Clinton, upon his retirement after 20 years as executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Historical Commission, and Ruthie Courtney upon her retirement after 26 years as secretary to the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s Board of Ministerial Education.
Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and the first African American to serve as leader of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, received a standing ovation during his keynote message that closed out the annual meeting on the morning of Oct. 31. Luter also spoke at a post-meeting luncheon for Mississippi Baptist African American pastors hosted by the MBCB Mission Strategy Division.
Also preaching at the annual meeting were Hamilton, who delivered the president’s address; Jim Phillips, senior pastor of North Greenwood Baptist Church in Greenwood, who delivered the convention sermon; and Jim Futral, MBCB executive director, who presented the 2013 MBCB theme interpretation, “Lordship.” Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and former executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention in Vancouver, Wash., presented devotional messages during each the annual meeting’s four sessions.
Praise and Worship were provided by the praise team and sanctuary choir from West Heights Baptist Church; Mississippi Singing Churchmen; sanctuary choir of North Greenwood Baptist Church; Mississippi Baptist Combined Choirs and Music Worship Leaders; and Forgiven Quartet of First Baptist Church in Ridgeland. Congregational worship leaders included James Francis, minister of music at West Heights Baptist Church; Keith Stevens, minister of music at North Greenwood Baptist Church; Slater Murphy, MBCB director of church music; and Derrick Cowan, minister of arts and discipleship at First Baptist Church in Ridgeland.
Frank Gunn, chairman of the Time, Place, and Preacher Committee and retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Biloxi, reported that the 2013 annual meeting of the Mississippi Baptist Convention will be Oct. 29-30 at First Baptist Church in Jackson. Chip Stevens, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Starkville, will preach the convention sermon. Rickey Blythe, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Albany, was chosen as alternate preacher.
William H. Perkins Jr. is editor of The Baptist Record of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.