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Mississippi Baptists approve record-breaking CP budget

JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–A total of 1,558 messengers from the 2,073 Mississippi Baptist churches met in the 165th session of the Mississippi Baptist Convention (MBC) October 31-November 1 at First Church, Jackson, and ratified without opposition a record Cooperative Program (CP) budget of $30,047,997 for 2001.

Messengers also reelected Kermit McGregor, pastor of First Church, Mendenhall, to a second one-year term as president.

In his president’s sermon that followed the election, McGregor appealed to Mississippi Baptists to avoid the infighting and name calling that has engulfed other Southern Baptist groups.

“We are priests, in the pulpit and in the pews. Lest we forget, his name is Jesus,” declared McGregor.

William “Bill” Smith III, director of missions for Lee Association in Tupelo, will serve a second term as first vice-president after defeating Randy Turner, pastor of First Church, Laurel, in this year’s only contested race for convention office. Smith outpolled Turner 398-337.

Dale Holloway, pastor of Hickory Ridge Church, Florence, was reelected by acclamation to a second term as second-vice president.

Gus Merritt, retired pastor of Clarke Venable Church, Decatur, was reelected by acclamation to another term as recording secretary, and Michael Weeks, pastor of Pleasant Hill Church, Olive Branch, was reelected by acclamation to another term as assistant recording secretary.

Several messengers had proposed resolutions endorsing the 1963 version of the Baptist Faith and Message or the 2000 revision of that document, but the resolutions committee pointed out that the Mississippi Baptist Convention had never officially adopted any version of the confessional statement.

Messengers approved nine other resolutions, including:

— appreciation for the life and ministry of E. Harold Fisher and his wife Martha. Harold Fisher has announced his retirement after 35 years as president of Baptist-affiliated Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain.

— encouraging Christians to vote in the national elections on November 7 and declaring November 6 a day of fasting and prayer “as we seek God’s blessings and leadership … .”

It was the only resolution that garnered opposition. Jimmy Pittman, a messenger from Temple Church, Hattiesburg, told messengers he objected to the portions of the resolutions encouraging pastors and churches to become educated and informed on “the critical issues of this most important election.”

“I do not feel we should place this burden on our pastors,” Pittman said.

Pittman proposed amending the resolution to omit that part, but Jimmy Walker, pastor of Tiplersville Church, Tiplersville, rose to oppose the amendment.

Messengers voted down Pittman’s amendment and passed the resolution as originally worded.

— opposition to the legalization of the teaching of gambling courses in Mississippi’s universities and community colleges.

— acknowledgement of the Bible as “our final authority for faith and practice.”

— criticism for the negative influence of the entertainment media on children.

— appreciation for the Cooperative Program on its 75th anniversary.

— concern for peace in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

— encouragement for organ donation. “[C]omplete resurrection of the body does not depend on bodily wholeness at death,” the resolution states.

— appreciation to First Church, Jackson, for hosting the 2000 Mississippi Baptist Convention annual meeting.

The 2001 MBC annual meeting is scheduled for October 30-31 at First Church, Jackson.

    About the Author

  • William H. Perkins Jr.