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N.M. Baptists emphasize ‘Building the Family’

BLOOMFIELD, N.M. (BP)–Baptists from throughout New Mexico rallied around the theme “Building the Family” during the 94th annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

The convention drew 302 messengers and 97 guests representing 113 of the BCNM’s 315 churches and 31 missions, which have approximately 63,000 resident members.

It was “just like attending an old-fashioned revival meeting,” James Semple, acting executive director, said of the Oct. 25-26 sessions at First Baptist Church in Bloomfield.


Semple, who commutes to Albuquerque each week from his home in Dallas, took over executive director duties March 1 upon the retirement of Claude Cone, who had led the convention the previous 20 years. Semple said “the most blessed part” of the BCNM gathering took place during the afternoon that the convention was not in session, referencing the “Crossover: Hope Is Knocking” evangelistic effort in four communities of New Mexico’s Four Corners area Oct. 26.

More than four dozen New Mexicans took advantage of the opportunity, knocking on 375 doors — 115 of which were answered — and sharing the Gospel with 46 people — four of whom prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

“It went very well,” Aztec pastor Kevin Parker said. “It exceeded my expectations.”


The convention’s theme, “Building the Family,” was emphasized throughout the two-day, four-session meeting.

Just two days after his final Sunday as pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Okla., former Southern Baptist Convention President Tom Elliff kicked off the New Mexico meeting, asking, “How seriously do you take this issue of praying for your family….?”

Reminding them that the greatest single work of a believer is prayer, the International Mission Board’s new senior vice president for spiritual nurture and church relations expounded upon issues believers must face if their prayers for their families are to be effective.

James Eaves, an evangelism professor emeritus from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a former pastor of New Mexico Baptists’ first church — First Baptist in Albuquerque — continued exploring the theme during his Bible studies. Noting the responsibilities of every member of a ministers’ family Tuesday evening, he explained the importance of healthy church families the following morning.

The convention’s final session consisted of a gospel music concert by the Annie Moses Band, which includes members of a Christian family from Nashville, Tenn., and a final challenge by Eaves, who showed from Scripture that the key to the revival and renewal that Christians long for is repentance.


New Mexico’s Baptist family celebrated what God is doing through fellow workers in their disaster relief ministry and partnership missions.

“New Mexico has stood up and is standing today where few states have dared to go,” New Mexico disaster relief’s “white hat” coordinator John Dillender of Loving reported.

“I want to thank you, New Mexico, for your generosity to disaster relief,” which, he said, enabled the relief ministry to purchase and activate a childcare unit.

When the first team of volunteers left the state for the Gulf Coast in response to Hurricane Katrina Aug. 29, the feeding unit had a capacity of 10,000 meals. Dillender said the unit’s capacity had increased to 15,000 during the two months it had been deployed, first in Mississippi and, since mid-September, in Slidell, La., near New Orleans. By Oct. 31, the unit was on its way home after completing its assignment and being deactivated.

As the BCNM wraps up the first year of its three-year mission partnerships with Southern Baptist representatives in the state of Maranhao in Brazil and the city of Birmingham in England, New Mexicans heard reports from each locale.

Matt Sellers, student pastor at First Baptist Church in Rio Rancho, reported that members of the construction and evangelism teams that went to Maranhao recently saw 757 people make professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

The plea from Southern Baptist worker Gary Bishop, who serves in England’s second-largest and second most ethnically diverse city, was “Pray for us. We feel like we are in a fight every day of our ministry.”

In Birmingham, where the vast majority of the people are Muslim, Hindu or Sikh, “this is a real fight,” he said.


Each item of business presented during the two brief business sessions passed with little discussion and no opposition.

Messengers from Church at the Butte in Elephant Butte, Glenwood Baptist Church, Liberty Church in Albuquerque and Mountain Vista Church in Farmington were seated for the first time at a BCNM meeting upon a recommendation from the credentials committee at the beginning of the meeting.

Jay McCollum, president of the convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Gallup, and Randy Aly, first vice president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Jal, were re-elected to second one-year terms. Joining them during the coming year will be Bob Brittain, second vice president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Thoreau. The three were the only nominees for the respective positions.

Messengers approved the largest budget in the convention’s history. The 2006 budget will require $3,772,225 in Cooperative Program receipts from churches, an increase of $108,986, or 2.98 percent, over the amount called for in the current budget.

Most of the increase covers a 2.5 percent increase in salaries for BCNM employees.

After the exception of $64,567 for exempt obligations (post-retirement benefits, church-retirement plan, Baptist Building note and notes payable of $81,000 less additional lease income of $16,433) is applied, 30.5 percent of the Cooperative Program receipts will continue to be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions and ministries.

The remaining 69.5 percent, $2,576,822, along with additional income of $1,351,173 from various sources — Baptist New Mexican 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 $3,927,995 for mission work in New Mexico.

Messengers also approved an amendment to the BCNM bylaws that charges the convention’s policy and personnel committee with the responsibility of proposing a procedure for the election of future executive director search committees.


Five of the six resolutions approved by messengers were statements of appreciation and support.

By approving the recommendation of the convention’s resolutions committee, messengers expressed their gratitude to First Baptist and Calvary Baptist churches in Bloomfield for their hospitality during the pre-convention and convention meetings.

They also expressed their appreciation for and committed themselves to prayerfully support the Americans and their families who are defending freedom around the world; New Mexico Baptists involved in disaster relief ministries; the BCNM’s executive director search team and the next man God wants to lead New Mexico Baptists; and BCNM staff members.

Messengers also approved a resolution committing themselves to personal soul-winning, in obedience to Christ’s command and in response to SBC President Bobby Welch’s “‘Everyone Can’ Kingdom Challenge!” to “Witness, Win and Baptize … One Million” people during the current church year, which began Oct. 1.

Leading worship were Jeff Petillo from First Baptist Church of Farmington, Lamar Morin and the praise team of First Baptist Church in Bloomfield and the New Mexico Singing Churchmen under the direction of BCNM music Ministries Director David Red.

Next year’s annual meeting is scheduled for Oct. 24-25 at Central Baptist Church in Clovis.

    About the Author

  • John Loudat