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New England Baptists celebrate 20 years, emphasize local church

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. (BP)–Messengers to the Baptist Convention of New England celebrated the convention’s 20th anniversary as they met at Rice Memorial Baptist Church in Northborough, Mass., Nov. 7-8.

“There is no more important work in the world than the work of the local church,” Jim Wideman, executive director of the convention said in his address. Observing the Empowering Kingdom Growth theme, the convention’s 162 registered messengers elected Mark Ballard, pastor of Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in Londonderry, N.H., president. Ballard had acted as convention president since Jan. 1 after the previous president accepted a new ministry position outside New England. Ballard was unopposed.

D.J. Omarkhail, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Carver, Mass., was elected first vice president by acclamation.

Messengers approved a $2,741,304 budget, which was about a $25,000 decrease from the previous budget. Twenty-one percent of the Cooperative Program income budget — $136,508 — will be forwarded to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries, matching last year’s amount.

Amendments to the Baptist Convention of New England Constitution and Bylaws were approved. The inclusion of two new committees on the board of directors and other minor changes were included in the vote that passed without opposition.

The BCNE staff presented their report in the form of a theme interpretation, championing the ways they have seen God at work during the last year. The staff recognized Roberto de Souza, who joined the BCNE staff this year as ethnic church planting director.

Four resolutions were affirmed by the messengers: support for the covenant marriage movement, gratitude to the host church, affirmation of the convention’s president as a prayer committee is formed, and appreciation to all persons, congregations and agencies that offered generous support to the BCNE in 2000 during the financial crisis.

Jack Schneider, pastor of Baptist Fellowship in Columbia, Conn., for 35 years, delivered a message called “Three Things God Wants You to Know” based on Ephesians 1:15-23. He said God wants people to know that in Christ they always have hope that will never fade, they have much value to God, and supernatural power belongs to each child of God.

Waylan Owens, associate professor of pastoral ministry and vice president for institutional effectiveness at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., shared a message from Acts 3:1-10. Owens challenged those attending to see people as Jesus does and give them the name of Jesus today.

The 2003 annual meeting will be Nov. 7-8 at Faith Baptist Church in Warwick, R.I.

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  • Allyson Clark