News Articles

Pageant described as highlight of New England annual meeting

SUDBURY, Mass. (BP)–By all accounts, a stirring pageant, “God With Us: A Worship Experience For All Seasons,” was the highlight of the Baptist Convention of New England’s 16th annual meeting.
More than 200 worshipers packed the auditorium of First Baptist Church, Sudbury, Mass., for the pageant by a 50-voice choir representing 10 BCNE churches who led the audience in a series of contemporary and traditional choruses that included “God Will Make a Way,” “All Hail the Power,” “Give Thanks” and “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.” A procession of colorful banners also proclaimed the glory of God.
Phil Young, associate pastor of Island Pond Baptist Church, Hampstead, N.H., organized the choir and conducted the hour-long musical that called attention to God’s mercy and help through life’s difficult times. Steve Miller, an Island Pond Baptist Church member, recited from memory a poem that demonstrated how Jesus Christ is mentioned in every book of the Bible.
William O. Crews, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, Calif., opened the Nov. 12-13 annual meeting with a message on leadership and vision for 21st century ministry. He asked attendees to consider whether “you are weak enough for God to bless you … (because) God is looking for people who are weak, who know they cannot do it alone.”
From his pastoral experiences, the seminary president said, “Most people want to know the will of God so they can consider it. God is most willing to reveal his will to those who are most willing to do his will.”
Randy Fearon, BCNE president and pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church, Hanover, Mass., identified the twin heartbeats of New England Baptists as “love for the unsaved and love for one another.”
Fearon said, “Praise God we have one another. As Southern Baptists we don’t have to be alone.” He asked those present to “step into one another’s lives with the encouragement of Jesus Christ.”
In the convention sermon, James Bishop, pastor of Welcome Baptist Church, Hartford, Conn., called for a “depth of knowing God beyond just being introduced. … To know God means to know his reliability.”
Immediately before the Thursday evening musical, BCNE Executive Director Ken Lyle challenged attendees to “hold fast” to the biblical core values of servanthood, excellence, leadership, relationships, stewardship, diversity and creativity.
“It’s been a good year in which the kingdom of God has been growing in New England,” Lyle reported.
The question of how a congregation may affiliate and cooperate with the Baptist Convention of New England took center stage during the business sessions.
Messengers approved a revision to the state convention’s constitution and bylaws only after discussing at some length and finally setting aside a proposed Article I of the bylaws that read in part, “A cooperating church does not have to be affiliated with a cooperating Baptist association or the Southern Baptist Convention. A church may seek to affiliate directly with this State Convention by securing Church-at-Large status … .”
Bylaws Article I was referred to the board of directors’ administrative committee for further consideration.
Meanwhile, Article II of the constitution itself was expanded without much discussion. The revision includes the previously approved state convention mission statement about “empowering Great Commission churches in extending God’s Kingdom to all peoples … .”
Also at the annual meeting:
— The 1999 budget of $2.79 million was approved unanimously without discussion. The new budget includes a $72,991 deficit, which is much smaller than the 1998 deficit. As in 1997, 21 percent of New England contributions will be sent to the SBC for convention causes.
— Fearon was re-elected convention president, as was the first vice president, Dale Morell, pastor of Maine Street Baptist Church, Brunswick, Maine. Sandy Coelho, BCNE Christian Education consultant, was elected clerk. A second vice president was not elected this year.
— The Northeastern Baptist School of Ministry held its first alumni meeting. Seventeen people including five alum attended the breakfast gathering. NeBSM Executive Director David Flumbaum reviewed plans for centers, revenue enhancement, and curriculum developments. He called the Baptist educational partnership “a work in progress.”
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 11-12 at Primera Iglesia Bautista, Hartford, Conn.

photos are available upon request from Dan Nicholas at 978-663-1483.