SAN ANTONIO, Texas (BP)–With a crowd twice the size of last year’s meeting, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention doubled its budget, adopted the Baptist Faith and Message statement of beliefs and elected a Hispanic as president during its Nov. 14 meeting in San Antonio.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s newest state convention became the first to budget more of its Cooperative Program receipts to SBC causes around the world than it keeps within the state. Messengers unanimously approved sending 51 percent of the undesignated gifts that churches send to the Cooperative Program to the SBC. By 2009 the SBC portion will reach 55 percent.
“We have expressed ourselves well as a state convention in missions and evangelism commitments by adopting this budget,” said Jim Richards, executive director of the SBTC. “We are the first state convention to send more to the Cooperative Program than we keep at home. By this, we are saying it is Jesus first and not Texas first.”
The 2001 budget of $4.3 million was unanimously approved, marking the third year of doubling the budget, said Joe Davis, chief financial officer for SBTC. “This year we will increase the budget by 118 percent,” he stated.
Messengers also embraced the Baptist Faith and Message as adopted at the SBC’s annual meeting in June, replacing a previous reference to the 1963 statement of faith. “The adoption of the BFM 2000 says unequivocally that churches that cooperate must have some theological agreements,” Richards said, “and these agreements are expressed well in the BFM 2000.”
The BFM serves as the SBTC’s incorporated constitutional document to clarify doctrinal convictions. The 430 affiliated churches of the SBTC agree to the doctrinal position of the SBTC and actively cooperate through regular participation and financial support.
Meeting for the third time since its founding in 1998, the SBTC registered 624 messengers, 631 visitors, with another 500 unregistered guests — attracting three times the number attending last year’s meeting.
Elected by acclamation as convention officers were evangelist Rudy Hernandez of Grand Prairie, as president; Randy Davis, pastor of Olsen Park Baptist Church, Amarillo, as first vice president; Roy Baxley, a layman from First Baptist Church, Dallas, second vice president. Gerald Smith, executive pastor of MacArthur Blvd. Baptist Church in Irving, was re-elected recording secretary.
In his report to the convention, Richards spoke of plans to send an additional 50 percent of excess funds to help those Southern Baptist entities that the Baptist General Convention of Texas voted to defund. The six Southern Baptist seminaries, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and SBC Executive Committee stand to lose $5.3 million next year. A Partners in the Harvest campaign will be launched at the SBTC evangelism conference next February to challenge churches to increase Cooperative Program giving.
Unanimously approved resolutions affirmed the sanctity of life, the Cooperative Program and SBC seminaries and agencies.
Messengers also expressed gratitude to SBTC President Stan Coffey, pastor of San Jacinto Baptist Church, Amarillo; the host church, Castle Hills First Baptist Church, San Antonio, and its pastor, George Harris; and “leaders of vision” who “exhibited the boldness to act at that critical time in Baptist life by establishing a convention where churches of like faith and purpose could express unity in the work of God.”
With the theme of “Pressing Toward the Mark,” speakers at the SBTC meeting heard from SBC President James Merritt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church of Snellville, as well as Coffey and Harris. More than 50 mission pastors supported by the SBTC gave testimonies.
Hernandez said he expects a continued surge in the SBTC’s growth because of what it offers. “This is something our churches have been wanting for a long time — a place of fellowship where our people would not have to be concerned about what others might say about us. Unashamedly, we believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, Spirit-breathed Word of God, written by men who were divinely inspired, who believed in the literal revelation of the Word of God.”
“I never realized that a convention could have such a genuine spirit,” stated Gerald Smith following the meeting. “We were all there unified because we believed the same thing about the truthfulness of God’s Word. It is inspired, inerrant and infallible.”