SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (BP) — Missouri Baptists elected a more ethnically diverse slate of convention officers and approved a resolution encouraging racial reconciliation during their 184th annual meeting at Crossway Baptist Church in Springfield.
Although this year’s meeting was shortened to only two days, Oct. 22-23, attendance rose slightly compared to the previous two years, totaling 1,042 messengers and 184 visitors from 451 churches.
Jon Nelson, elected as MBC first vice president, is believed to be the convention’s first black officer. Nelson is an MBC church planter and pastor of Soma Community Church near the campus of historically black Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
Other new officers include: president, Jeremy Muniz, pastor of First Baptist in De Soto, who previously served as first vice president; second vice president, Jeff Anderson, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Hannibal; and recording secretary, Chad Hodges, pastor of First Baptist Church in Wright City.
Messengers overwhelmingly approved a resolution encouraging racial reconciliation and urging “the Missouri Legislature to formally denounce” the Missouri Supreme Court’s 1852 Dred Scott decision, which denied legal personhood to Dred Scott because of his race.
During his presidential address, Ken Parker called Missouri Baptists to take the lead in racial reconciliation both in the state and across the nation.
“If racial reconciliation is going to happen, do you know who is going to have to lead the charge? Christians. The world is not going to fix that,” Parker said. “We’ve got to break down barriers and listen to one another and love one another…. Do you know who is going to make a difference about race in Missouri? Missouri Christians. How about Missouri Baptists?”
Addressing the annual meeting’s theme, “Steady,” Parker said conflict certainly will arise as churches labor to make disciples and multiply churches across the state and around the globe.
“Obstacles and attacks will come,” he said, “even when we’re fulfilling our God-given destiny.”
Indeed, obstacles came to God’s people in Exodus 17:8-16 when they were attacked by the Amalekites. But, as God so often does, he used “people to fight the battles,” Parker said. In this case, God commanded Moses to stand on a hill overlooking the battle and raise his arms, with his staff in his hand. As long as his hands were lifted, the Israelites would succeed in battle. But, as is common with men and women of God, he couldn’t fulfill the task alone. After some time, Moses grew weary, and two men — Aaron and Hur — came to his aid. They stood on each side of him, holding his hands “steady until the sun went down” (v. 12).
“Sometimes we just need a little help to remain steady,” Parker said. “Having others help is not a sign of weakness, but of humanity.”
Likewise, MBC Executive Director John Yeats reminded messengers of the Gospel foundation that would allow them to remain steady in ministry.
“If you find yourself in a place of ministry where you sense you are stuck in the muddy clay, then consider afresh that the Lord is your solid rock,” Yeats said. “Let’s agree that it is the Gospel that changes lives, not all the popular propositions that want to attach themselves to the church.”
Budget, business, resolutions & speakers
During the meeting’s business session, messengers approved a 2019 Cooperative Program goal of $15 million, continuing to allocate 40 percent to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries and 60 percent to Missouri Baptist causes.
Messengers also approved the Executive Board’s recommendation that, in 2019, the Rheubin L. South Missouri Missions Offering goal be set at $715,000, that Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal be set at $4 million, that Annie Armstrong Easter Offering goal be set at $2 million, and the Global Hunger Relief offering be set at $200,000.
And messengers approved a special offering taken on the second day of the convention for Freeway Ministries, a ministry founded in 2011 by Crossway Baptist Church members John Stroup, Mike Aye and Rick Lechner to help Baptist churches reach out to ex-cons, drug addicts and the homeless. Since its founding, Freeway Ministries has partnered with churches across Missouri; in Omaha, Neb.; and in Cape Town, South Africa.
At the recommendation of the MBC Executive Board, messengers approved an amended version of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home’s (MBCH) Articles of Incorporation and received the MBCH’s amended bylaws. These approved amendments brought the MBCH’s governing documents into line with the MBC’s revised governing documents, which messengers approved during their annual meeting in 2017.
Messengers approved nine resolutions, including the resolution encouraging racial reconciliation. In one resolution, messengers called Christian leaders in both church and state to live in “holiness and integrity,” and in another they celebrated “normative sized churches” — that is, the 89 percent of Missouri Baptist churches with 200 or less in attendance each Sunday.
They also addressed such issues as the “public health crisis” of pornography; legalizing sports gambling; the potential legalization of marijuana through state ballot measures; and the problem of gun violence.
In a final resolution, messengers rebuffed the message of the “Revoice Conference” held in St. Louis this summer which “taught that believers can have both a Christian identity and a ‘LGBT’ or ‘gay’ identity.” In response, the resolution called Missouri Baptists to “deny the validity of a ‘gay Christian’ identity.'”
Missouri Baptists welcomed a variety of guest speakers during their sessions, including Darryl Gaddy, pastor of Victory Fellowship Community Church in Detroit, Mich.; Herb Reavis Jr., pastor of North Jacksonville (Fla.) Baptist Church; Ken Graves, founding pastor of Calvary Chapel Bangor in central Maine; and Ken Sande, president of RW360 and founder of Peacemaker Ministries. To listen to the various addresses at the MBC annual meeting, visit https://mobaptist.org/annual-meeting/videos.
The convention’s 2019 annual meeting is scheduled for Oct. 28-30 at the Branson Convention Center.