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Mission statement, Mississippi partnership approved by Maryland/Delaware Baptists

OCEAN CITY, Md. (BP)–Messengers to the 163rd session of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware approved a new mission statement and established a new partnership with the Mississippi Baptist Convention during their Nov. 9-10 meeting in Ocean City.
Messengers meeting at the Sheraton Convention Center in Ocean City, Md., also passed a $4,901,888 budget for 1999 and spoke on a number of moral issues, including gambling, fetal tissue research, homosexuality and euthanasia.
The new BCM/D mission statement was developed through a “futuring” process the convention has undergone over the last year. Charles Barnes, BCM/D executive director, initiated the process in order to prepare the convention to the meet the needs of churches in the next century. The general mission board previously had ratified the changes.
The new mission statement is a constitutional change that must be approved during two consecutive annual meetings to take effect. It reads: “The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware will intentionally assist in starting and strengthening congregations so that they can fulfill Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19-20.”
In later reports, Barnes, and David Lee, BCM/D director of strategic planning, explained the convention now has one priority: disciplemaking. The five strategies to accomplish disciplemaking are church planting, congregational development, missions involvement, leadership development and support, and resource development.
The newly established missions partnership with the Mississippi Baptist Convention will span three years and emphasize church-to-church relationships. Paul Harrell, the coordinator on the Mississippi side, said BCM/D priorities match those of the Mississippi convention. Otis Doherty, retired pastor of Ogletown Baptist Church, Newark, and a Mississippi native, will handle the partnership on the BCM/D side.
In a runoff ballot for president after three candidates failed to produce a majority, James McBride, director of missions for Delaware Baptist Association, won 206 to 82 over Mike Trammell, pastor of Mount Airy Baptist Church in Central Baptist Association. McBride was described as “apolitical” by Waltor Agnor, retired director of missions for Eastern Baptist Association, who nominated him. Agnor also credited McBride with the doubling of Southern Baptist churches in Delaware because of the innovative ministries he has spearheaded there.
James Dixon, pastor of El Bethel Baptist Church, Fort Washington, who was the third presidential candidate, was tapped as first vice president 133 to 86 over Steve Hokuf, pastor of First Baptist Church, North East. Ken Cademartori, pastor of Mason Dixon Baptist Church, New Freedom, Pa., was elected as second vice president without opposition.
Messengers approved a 1999 budget of $4,901,888, an increase of 3.9 percent over 1998. It projects $3,325,000 in Cooperative Program receipts. Fifty-nine percent of CP funds support ministries in the BCM/D, while the remainder, 41 percent, is sent to the SBC executive committee for distribution to SBC entities. The local/national CP split takes place after the expanded annuity preferred item is subtracted. The formula remains the same as the previous year.
In other business, convention membership was addressed. A new qualification in the constitution will allow churches that have joined and financially support the BCM/D to send messengers in the same year as the annual meeting. Previously, membership was based on giving during the preceding fiscal year. When the new provision takes effect, a church that becomes a part of the convention from October through September will be able to send messengers to the November annual meeting rather than having to wait until the following year.
Another constitutional change defines convention agencies. The new section states that “the convention may establish agencies for the purpose of performing collateral Christian services. An agency will be a separate corporation independent of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware in its day-to-day operations but will work in cooperation with the convention in order to avoid costly duplication.” The section also requires that working agreements between the agency and the GMB must be reached.
In revisions to the bylaws, the communication/public relations committee was deleted. The Baptist Life committee was renamed the “communications and Baptist Life committee,” and will be responsible for overseeing the new communication center.
Another change authorizes the administrative committee to alter the constitution and bylaws in non-substantive ways such as grammatical corrections and changes to names or titles. Any change would simply be reported to the GMB.
Introducing the resolutions, Bob Lilly, pastor of Catonsville Baptist Church and chairman of the committee that drafted the 11 statements, said that many will ask why the convention was being asked to consider another resolution on abortion. Because “the world has a short memory,” he said. The convention has to set a standard and “as long as we have sin in our land, then we need to stand against it.”
This year’s abortion resolution condemned “harvesting fetal tissue for research” and called on Maryland/Delaware Baptists to vote for political leaders who support the sanctity of life.
Messengers also spoke against pornography, gambling, euthanasia and homosexuality. They also called on religious and political leaders to live morally and encouraged Christians not to be apathetic.
In other resolutions, messengers celebrated the life of Roy Gresham, former BCM/D executive director who died this year, celebrated seniors, affirmed marriage and decried the persecution of Christians.
This year’s meeting drew 423 messengers and 56 visitors, an increase over last year’s attendance. Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 8-9 at the Sheraton North in Towson, Md.

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  • Ron Chaney