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N.M. reduces budget, emphasizes prayer

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ROSWELL, N.M. (BP)–Prayer was the priority when Baptists from across the Land of Enchantment gathered Oct. 26-27 at First Baptist Church in Roswell for the annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

Messengers approved a 2011 Cooperative Program budget of $4.01 million, a reduction of $463,307, or 10.36 percent, from 2010. The budget includes a 2 percent increase in salaries for BCNM employees, who received no increase in 2010.

After the exception of $224,157 for shared ministries (church-retirement plan, Baptist New Mexican, annual meeting and missions promotion expenses) is applied, 30.5 percent of the Cooperative Program receipts, an estimated $1,154,703, will continue to be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions and ministry.

The remaining 69.5 percent, $2,631,208, along with additional income of $1,939,635 from various sources — including BCNM camps, BCNM children and student conferences, 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 $4,795,000 for mission work in New Mexico.

PRAYER PROMOTED

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The theme verse for the 98-year-old convention’s annual meeting was “The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful” (James 5:16 HCSB), and times of prayer were scheduled during each of the convention’s three sessions.

Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, urged New Mexico Baptists to possess “an unshakeable confidence in the power of God” and “an overwhelming sense that God’s intervention is necessary” in his first of two Bible studies during the convention.

New Mexico native Daniel Henderson, pastor of prayer and renewal at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and a professor at Liberty University, encouraged messengers to pray from God’s “creative Word,” by his “creative Spirit” and “in a creative way.”

Convention President Bruce Kirby, pastor of Parkland Baptist Church in Clovis, used stories about his family to illustrate the necessity of prayer. Recalling how he and his family were driven to their knees when doctors expected his newborn grandson to die a few years ago, Kirby said New Mexico Baptists also should be driven to their knees by the fact that in New Mexico, nine out of every 10 people in the state are lost.

“If we have no power in prayer, it is because we have no righteousness in our walk with the Lord,” said Gary Wolfe, bivocational pastor of First Baptist Church in Otis.

Sharing “Three ‘P’s’ of Effective Praying,” Wolfe emphasized the importance of “position,” “power” and “patience.”

“Whom we pray to matters more than how or what we pray,” Wolfe said, emphasizing that prayer’s primary purpose is “to get to know God.”

Prayer boxes were placed throughout the building for people to submit prayer requests, which were prayed for by those who utilized the prayer room that was made available during the convention.

REACHING N.M.

Many of the public prayers during the convention were for New Mexico Baptists’ efforts to impact the state with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

It is imperative that New Mexico Baptists do whatever the Lord tells them to do and trust Him to provide the necessary resources, Kirby said during his message, referring to the fear of some that the BCNM could receive less financial assistance from the North American Mission Board in the future stemming from the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, which was adopted at the SBC annual meeting in Orlando in June.

Joseph Bunce, executive director of the convention, encouraged each of the state’s churches to focus on “hoeing the row” that God has assigned them.

Emphasizing that God does not value any of the “rows” he assigns churches above any others, Bunce said members of churches of various sizes — from the largest mega-churches to the smallest congregations — should not engage in belittling or bad-mouthing each other.

“We need to value every row,” Bunce said, demonstrating with several statistics that the Southern Baptist Convention is primarily made up of smaller churches.

AUXILIARY ACTIVITIES

The convention and related activities — the WMU Missions Celebration, the Pastor’s/Laymen’s Conference and the annual missions celebration banquet — were preceded by a Crossover event the weekend prior to the annual meeting.

More than 120 volunteers participated in a “Family Fun Day” at a local park on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 24.

The block party featured inflatables, games, door prizes, food and several volunteers who circulated through the crowd, striking up conversations and sharing the Gospel with those in attendance.

Seventy minutes after the two-hour event began, everyone was invited to gather around to hear a former professional basketball player share his testimony.

Palming a basketball, David Shivers, who now serves as pastor of men and evangelism at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, told the crowd how he had made his love for the game an idol in his life. He said he did not find the life he longed for until he accepted God’s free gift of eternal life.

By the end of the day, 38 of the estimated 800 to 1,000 people who attended registered decisions for Jesus Christ.

Opening the Tuesday evening session with an impressive concert was the 50-member choir and orchestra of Roswell’s First Baptist Church, which was joined half-way through their presentation by more than 20 members of the New Mexico Singing Churchmen.

OTHER BUSINESS

Registering for the convention were 290 messengers from 109 churches and 71 guests. Approximately 330 congregations, with nearly 59,000 resident members, are affiliated with the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

Messengers quickly moved through each of the convention’s business sessions, passing every recommendation, including amendments to the articles of incorporation of the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home regarding the composition of its board of directors.

They approved six resolutions, in which they expressed appreciation for the churches that hosted convention and pre-convention activities and for the state convention’s staff; encouraged each other to bathe the upcoming general election in prayer, to exercise their right to vote and to urge leaders to walk in the wisdom of God; called for “an end to the expansion of gambling in the state …”; encouraged prayer and support of the Cooperative Program and the spreading of the Gospel across the state; and voiced support for legislation that would prohibit late-term abortions in the state.

Messengers also elected new officers for the coming year, all by acclamation: president, R. Maurice Hollingsworth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Las Cruces; first vice president, Gary Wolfe, pastor of First Baptist Church in Otis; and second vice president, Kevin Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Aztec.

Next year’s annual meeting is scheduled for Oct. 25-26 at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Farmington.
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John Loudat is editor of the Baptist New Mexican (www.bcnm.com), newsjournal of congregations in the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

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