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N.M. Baptist sessions capped with ‘Experiencing God’ musical

HOBBS, N.M. (BP)–Baptists from across the Land of Enchantment focused on experiencing God during the 89th annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico Oct. 30-31 in Hobbs.

Noticeably absent was any hint of disunity as 289 messengers from 100 of the BCNM’s 301 churches and 211 guests gathered at First Baptist Church in the southeastern New Mexico community. Perhaps most amazing of all, the convention’s highest attendance was recorded during the final session Wednesday evening, when 565 people poured into the church’s auditorium for a dynamic presentation of “Experiencing God-The Musical,” based on the best-selling study by Henry Blackaby and Claude King.

The theme, “Experiencing God,” was emphasized in each of the convention’s four sessions, and the musical finale was performed by a choir of nearly 100 people from Southeastern Baptist Association churches, the New Mexico Singing Churchmen and others from across the state. It was led by the BCNM’s director of music ministries, David Red.

Presiding during the meeting were the BCNM’s president, Robert Butler, pastor of Sandia Baptist Church, Albuquerque; first vice president, Keeney Dickenson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Eunice; and second vice president, Fred MacDonald, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, Alamogordo. All three were elected unanimously to a second one-year term to their respective posts, as no other names were placed in nomination.

On Wednesday afternoon, more than two dozen New Mexico Baptists gathered at Belvue Baptist Church for a “Crossover” evangelistic event. During the Crossover, participants spread out across the community sharing the message of God’s love and inviting people to the concert that evening. Also that evening, a youth rally was held at Northside Baptist Church. The speaker was Wes Hamilton from Fort Worth, Texas, and the music was led by the Paradigm Praise Band from Lubbock, Texas. The Crossover yielded 23 professions of faith.

The convention highlighted new doors God has opened for the BCNM, specifically the recent sale of the Baptist Building and the move to a new location, as well as the new three-year partnership with Baptists in Thailand, Cambodia and other countries of Southeast Asia, which began Sept. 1.

Southern Baptist representatives who serve in one of the restricted access countries in the region spoke during the annual meeting and during the mission meetings held prior to the convention.

BCNM messengers approved a change to the BCNM bylaws that defines a “cooperating Baptist church.”

The amended bylaws state that the $250 churches must give to the convention to be considered “cooperating” may be given during the “12 months immediately prior to the call to order of the annual or special meeting of the Convention.” The amendment was necessary for clarification, explained the BCNM executive board’s chairman, Bruce Kirby, in presenting the motion, which was approved with no opposition.

Messengers also unanimously approved a BCNM budget for 2002, the largest in the state convention’s history.

The budget will require $3,366,026 in Cooperative Program receipts from the churches next year, an increase of $103,024, or 3.16 percent, over the 2001 budget.

After the exception of $88,330 in preferred items (ministers’ retirement and retirees’ insurance) is applied, 30.5 percent of the CP receipts, an estimated $999,697, will continue to be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions and ministry.

The remaining 69.5 percent, $2,277,999, along with additional income of $1,222,852 from various sources — Baptist New Mexican subscriptions and advertising, Baptist building rental income, and NAMB and LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBC — will be used to support a total operating budget of $3,500,851 for mission work in New Mexico.

Raises for convention personnel of 3 percent are included in the proposal. The convention also will increase by 1 percent matching annuity contributions for employees who wish to make additional voluntary contributions to their retirement plan, not to exceed 5 percent of their salary.

The four resolutions approved by messengers expressed commitment to intensify their prayers for “President Bush, our national leaders and military personnel through the duration of this crisis,” which began with the tragic events of Sept. 11; determination to pray for “continued unity in our state convention as well as our sister conventions who are experiencing turmoil”; support for the BCNM’s new partnership with Baptists in Southeast Asia; and New Mexico Baptists’ appreciation to the host church and association for their hospitality.

The resolutions committee’s proposed resolution of support for the nation’s leaders and military was the only item of business during the convention that resulted in floor action. Carl Lee, who is retired from the military and a member of Celebration Baptist Church, Rio Rancho, moved to change the resolution from resolving “that we pray” for the nation’s leaders to “that we intensify our prayer” for them. Messengers enthusiastically approved his amendment.

Each of the convention sessions included Bible studies, which were all led by New Mexico Baptists — Jack Allen, pastor of Cottonwood Church, Albuquerque; Ed Meyers, pastor of First Baptist Church, Farmington; Garland Moore, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, Milan; and John Hinze, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church, Carlsbad.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 29-30 at Eastern Hills Baptist Church, Albuquerque.

Albuquerque was chosen so New Mexico Baptists could come tour their new Baptist Building, the BCNM’s president, Bob Butler, told messengers.

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  • John Loudat