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N.M. Baptists celebrate high attendance & record budget

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CLOVIS, N.M. (BP)–More people attended events related to the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s annual meeting Oct. 24-25 in Clovis, estimates indicate, than any year since the state convention was founded 94 years ago.

A state convention-sponsored youth concert featuring award-winning Christian singer Jaci Velasquez drew about 1,300 people to Marshall Auditorium on Wednesday evening, Oct. 25, while hundreds of Baptists and guests gathered at Central Baptist Church for a convention session.

Central’s auditorium was full the previous evening, and another 110 gathered in overflow areas, as Velasquez sang during the convention’s second session and presented a concert to close it. Alan McAlister, Central’s pastor, said nearly 700 people were in the building that night.

Registered attendance of the 411 messengers from 138 churches and 243 guests was the highest since 1995, when the convention was held at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center. The messenger count alone was the highest since 1994, when the convention last met in Clovis — at First Baptist Church, its birthplace in 1912. The BCNM’s 321 churches and 25 missions have approximately 62,000 resident members.

Thirty-eight of the youth who attended the Wednesday evening Velasquez concert indicated they prayed to receive Jesus Christ after Joseph Bunce, the state’s executive director, presented the Gospel during the concert. Another 222 youth restored their commitments to Christ, and 253 made commitments to ministry, Melody Marrow, a BCNM ministry assistant, said.

Thirteen people prayed to receive Christ during Crossover Clovis, an evangelistic outreach effort that preceded the annual meeting, and another 38 families were identified as prospects.

The theme of the annual meeting, “Embracing our Culture,” was emphasized by each of the meeting’s three preachers from New Mexico.

When God looks at individuals from all of the state’s cultures, He sees precious souls, Jay McCollum, the convention’s president, told messengers during the opening session. “Whatever it takes, we need to be people who engage the culture,” McCollum, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gallup, said.

Bunce said the burden on his heart is the lostness of New Mexico. “Folks, if we don’t win them, nobody will,” he said.

Tim Marrow, former president of the BCNM, said during the annual sermon that Jesus does not recognize a boundary when it comes to reaching people for His Kingdom. “You’ve got the [Living] Water. Let it flow,” Marrow, pastor of First Baptist Church in West Albuquerque, said.

Guest preachers during the convention were Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, and Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“It is time for Southern Baptists to decide if we’re willing to let God empower us …,” said Chapman, who served two terms as BCNM president while he was pastor of First Baptist Church in Albuquerque from 1974-79.

Land wrapped up the convention with a message based on 2 Chronicles 7:14.

“God is doing something extraordinary in America … under the radar,” said Land on the day marking his 18th anniversary as president of the ERLC.

For the first time in the convention’s history, members of two of New Mexico’s language groups heard the proceedings in their own language as 20 Spanish speakers and five Navajos heard translations on hand-held receivers.

During the business sessions, messengers elected Rick Sullivan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Artesia, president; David King, a member of Monterey Baptist Church in Albuquerque, first vice president; and Garland Moore, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Milan, second vice president. The only contested position was that of president, in which King lost a show-of-hands vote to Sullivan.

Messengers approved the convention’s first budget exceeding $4 million. The 2007 budget anticipates $4.1 million in Cooperative Program receipts from the state’s churches, an increase of $409,936 — or 11.07 percent — over the current budget. The convention will continue to forward 30.5 percent of Cooperative Program receipts, an estimated $1.1 million, for national and international missions and ministries.

The remainder of Cooperative Program receipts, along with additional income of $1.3 million from Baptist New Mexican newsjournal subscriptions and advertising, Baptist Building rental income and the SBC’s North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources, will be used to support a total operating budget of $4.1 million for mission work in New Mexico.

Messengers approved a recommendation by the BCNM executive board “that any overage in the 2006 budget approved at the 2005 state convention be split on a 50/50 basis with the SBC and the BCNM.”

Resolutions were passed opposing gambling and its expansion in the state; urging prayer “in Jesus’ name”; expressing opposition to embryonic stem cell research and in favor of adult stem cell research; encouraging New Mexico Baptists to seek God’s will in how they vote on Election Day; affirming the biblical view of marriage, supporting the passage of a marriage protection act in the state and opposing “any laws that would undermine marriage”; and commending the New Mexico Baptist disaster relief ministry and encouraging its continued support by the state convention.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 23-24 at Sandia Baptist Church in Albuquerque.

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  • John Loudat