TAOS, N.M. (BP) — Messengers to the Baptist Convention of New Mexico increased the percentage of Cooperative Program receipts they will forward to the Southern Baptist Convention for the second year in a row and adopted the Baptist Faith and Message as their statement of faith.
Gathering Oct. 25-26 at the Sagebrush Inn and Conference Center in Taos, N.M., 288 messengers and 92 visitors represented 99 of the convention’s 335 cooperating churches.
In conjunction with the annual meeting, New Mexico Baptists shared the Gospel with the surrounding community through an initiative called “Embrace Taos.” The initiative included evangelistic training the day preceding the annual meeting as well as low-cost trolley rides around town and to nearby Taos Pueblo.
The 2017 budget of $4,806,921 — down 6.2 percent from 2016 — anticipates $3,754,041 in CP receipts from churches and $1,052,880 from other sources.
The convention will forward 28 percent of CP receipts to SBC national and international missions and ministries, a 2-percentatage point increase from 2016. The BCNM will use 72 percent for in-state missions and ministries.
Approximately 3.3 percent of CP receipts will be designated “CP exempt items,” a category analogous to what have been called shared ministry expenses by some state conventions. The three line items labelled CP exempt in the published BCNM budget are “church retirement plan,” “post-retirement benefits” and “CP promotion.” CP exempt items are down 1 percentage point from their 2016 levels.
The total dollar amount forwarded to SBC causes from the BCNM is up 5.4 percent since 2015, according to the New Mexico convention.
Adoption of the BF&M was included in a series of bylaw amendments that “streamlined the messenger credentialing process,” according to a BCNM news release. Among the new requirements for a church to seat messengers at the BCNM annual meeting, the congregation must contribute “a percentage of their undesignated gifts through the Cooperative Program” and not hold any beliefs or practices that, in the opinion of the convention, “conflict with” the BF&M.
The previous standard for seating messengers included contributions of at least $250 through CP in the 12 months preceding the annual meeting and faith and practices not in conflict with “the Holy Bible, the Old and New Testaments.”
The BCNM’s news release said affirming the BF&M “clarified certain practices and stances that are being challenged in the nation’s current moral and legal climate.”
A major aim of the bylaw amendments was to make it easier for churches to participate in convention life, said BCNM executive director Joseph Bunce, adding, “We don’t want a process that discourages participation.”
Messengers also renamed the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries. The agency’s mission was extended to include family counseling and an adoption program.
Convention officers elected included: president, John Hinze, pastor of First Baptist Church in Tucumcari; first vice president, Jared Bridge, pastor of Anchor Church in Albuquerque; and second vice president, Beau Lamb, pastor of First Baptist Church in Santa Rosa.
The annual meeting theme, “Awaken the Church,” was reflected in messages by Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas; outgoing BCNM president Jonathan Richard, pastor of First Baptist Church in Estancia, N.M.; and Andrew Hebert, pastor of Taylor Memorial Baptist Church in Hobbs.
Next year’s annual meeting is scheduled for Oct. 24-25 at First Baptist Church in Bloomfield.