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Mo. Baptists pare budget; re-elect officers

RAYTOWN, Mo. (BP)–Messengers approved a reduced budget and, in a departure from tradition dating back beyond three decades, re-elected an incumbent president during the 175th Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting, Oct. 26-28 at First Baptist Church in Raytown.

A $15.05 million budget with an alternative giving plan was approved for 2010, down 9.2 percent from the 2009 budget of $16.3 million but consistent with the gifts received from Missouri churches to date this year.

Bruce McCoy, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in St. Louis, was re-elected president Oct. 27, topping Jody Shelenhamer, a layman from First Baptist Church in Bolivar, 654-205. McCoy is the first MBC president to be re-elected since Hugh Wamble was returned to the MBC’s then-moderator post at the 1975 annual meeting in Cape Girardeau.

Messenger registration totaled 1,200, with 222 visitors. Most notably, the number of participating churches rose 11.6 percent from 436 to 505.

“Beginning with the listening sessions earlier this year, and through promotional materials coming from our MBC communications office, we have been encouraging Missouri Baptists to come the convention, voice their concerns and vote their convictions,” said MBC Executive Director David Tolliver. “I am thrilled that they did. I continue to pray for the day when those who participate in our annual meetings and do the business of our convention are a true representative cross-section of who we are as Missouri Baptists.”

A special installation service for Tolliver as executive director on Oct. 26 preceded his address that evening. Tolliver became executive director Feb. 3 after serving nearly 22 months in an interim capacity. The installation concluded with his pastor, Monte Shinkle of Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City, praying over him.

“Father, may he be a Missourian in whom there is no guile,” Shinkle prayed.

Tolliver preached his vision statement for Missouri Baptists, that they would be a people who are spiritually healthy Christians, coming together in healthy churches, going to an unhealthy world with the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Missions partnerships will send Missourians to carry the Gospel to West Africa; El Salvador; northern Ontario, Canada; and northern Illinois. Three of the four partnerships are new, to start in January; only El Salvador is a renewal.

Messengers approved a three-year partnership with the International Mission Board’s Western Gateway Cluster of the Sub-Saharan African Affinity Group (Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cape Verde) with an option to add two more years as the partnership progresses. The partnership with the Canadian National Baptist Convention will span five years, while the partnership with Baptist associations in northern Illinois will span three years, with an option for two more years. Also, messengers reaffirmed their partnership with El Salvador through Dec. 31, 2011.

A special offering Oct. 27 for partnership missions yielded $4,402.

The MBC, in keeping with recent tradition, increased the budget amount designated for Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministry, from 36.5 percent in 2009 to 36.75 percent for 2010. In addition, messengers approved spending the first three-fourths of 1 percent of the 2010 budget for Cooperative Program missions education and promotion.

Messengers also reaffirmed their commitment to pursue recovery of five breakaway entities (see earlier Baptist Press story).

The budget contains two giving plans. Plan A would direct 3 percent of budgeted funds toward the MBC’s Agency Restoration Fund to cover legal fees involved in the recovery of the breakaway entities (Windermere Baptist Conference Center, Missouri Baptist College, Word & Way newsjournal, The Baptist Home retirement center and the Missouri Baptist Foundation). Plan B would allow churches to direct those same funds to the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (1 percent) and Christian higher education (2 percent) instead.

“The alternative giving plan guarantees that their dollars will not go to the lawsuits,” Tolliver said.

In addition to McCoy’s re-election, another convention distinctive was recorded, with all four officers being re-elected: John Marshall, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Springfield, as first vice president, topping Jesse Cass, pastor of Jamesport Baptist Church in Coffey, 324-202; Mitch Jackson, pastor of Miner Baptist Church in Sikeston, as second vice president over Danny Decker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Warsaw, 281-226; and Jamie Hitt, a member of First Baptist Church in Winfield, unopposed as recording secretary.

The number of candidates running for office was down considerably from the 13 who ran last year in St. Louis; only seven ran at Raytown.

Marshall is on record saying he plans to run for president the next two years, while Jackson and Hitt have said they will not run again. McCoy has reached the two-term limit.

In his president’s address, McCoy preached that learning how to convince, rebuke and exhort at the proper time is the difference between a life of regret and a life of reward.

Featured speakers at the convention included Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; and Rick Hedger, MBC partnership missions specialist.

Micah Fries, pastor of Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church in St. Joseph, delivered the convention sermon. Randy Johnson, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Republic, was selected to preach the 2010 convention sermon.

Only two resolutions were submitted and recommended for adoption by the Resolutions Committee; both passed: a pledge of prayer support for the work of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force in the SBC, submitted by Paul Purvis, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Forsyth, and the customary courtesy resolution expressing appreciation to local officials and others who helped make the convention possible.

For the third consecutive year, the MBC meeting was preceded by a solemn assembly in which people could pray and focus on repentance and unity. A total of 50 participated Oct. 25 at First Baptist Church in Raytown.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 25-27 at the University Plaza Convention Center in Springfield.
Allen Palmeri is associate editor of The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

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