LAKELAND, Fla. (BP)–The pastor of one of Florida’s leading churches in Cooperative Program missions giving was elected without opposition as president of the state convention during its Nov. 12-13 annual meeting in Lakeland.
The 1,475 messengers attending the 140th annual meeting of the Florida Baptist State Convention elected Orlando-area pastor Dwayne Mercer of the 4,500-member First Baptist Church of Oviedo to a one-year term as president.
Mercer, 47, has guided the church during his eight-year tenure to become a CP Missions leader in the state and association, where it is second only to the First Baptist Church of Orlando in missions giving.
Mercer was nominated to the position by a former convention president, Ed Johnson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ocala.
Mercer served as president of the Pastor’s Conference in year 2000. In February, he began serving on the state board of missions, filling a mid-term vacancy.
In the only contested election of convention officers, for first vice president, Maxie Miller, pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Plant City, defeated Eddie Bevill, pastor of the Parkridge Baptist Church in Coral Springs. Miller received 65 percent of the vote.
Joe Bowles, pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Plant City, nominated Miller, an African American. He has served his present church for 14 years. John Cross, pastor of South Biscayne in North Port, nominated Bevill.
Dan Maudlin, a layman from Westside Baptist Church in Gainesville, was elected second vice president. The only nominee for the post, the retiree who had served with the Army Corps of Engineers was nominated by his pastor, Gary Crawford.
Ron Hobbs, minister of music at College Road Baptist Church in Ocala, was elected recording secretary.
Twenty-three recommendations considered by messengers of the Florida Baptist State Convention were approved with expediency — very little discussion, no objections and no balloting. No miscellaneous business was presented from the floor for consideration.
Messengers began the two-day meeting “Impact Christianity”-themed by unanimously endorsing a resolution of prayer and remembrance in response to the tragedy of Sept. 11 and subsequent events. The resolution set the tone for the opening session of the meeting, which included a video that saluted sacrifices made by U.S. veterans.
Approval was given to a constitutional revision that would allow the Florida Baptist State Convention president to seek another consecutive year of service in that post. State board president Tommy Green, pastor of First Baptist Church, Brandon, presented the recommendation saying it would give a president more of an opportunity to place his or her mark on the convention meetings. He noted that most state conventions allowed the president a second consecutive term.
Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola and a former convention president, asked if the president elected at this year’s meeting would be eligible for reelection at next year’s convention.
No, Green explained, because constitutional amendments require approval during two consecutive meetings before being enacted, thus the president for 2001-2002 would be ineligible for reelection next year. This year’s elected president could, however, be reelected after a year had lapsed, as stated in the original wording.
An overwhelming number of messengers voted in favor of the amendment revision with only a small show of hands voting in opposition.
The only other recommendation to spark discussion was a bylaw revision requiring that Cooperative Program overages received above the basic budget to be disbursed in the same percentage as designated in the basic budget. The recommendation also stipulated that the board may “for just cause, modify the distribution of the advance section.”
Tony Clubb, a messenger from First Baptist Church of Williston, spoke in favor of the recommendation, saying it was his impression that the proposed distribution was being practiced. He also asked for some clarification as to what would constitute “a just cause.”
Green responded by saying a catastrophic disaster such as Hurricane Andrew may cause the board to reconsider the percentage distribution.
Clubb said he would vote for the measure but urged that the board not take lightly such action.
A $32.9 million Cooperative Program budget for year 2002 was adopted by messengers. The distribution will continue to be 51.75 percent for Florida Baptist Convention causes; 40 percent for Southern Baptist Convention causes; 5 percent for pastoral aid; and 3.25 percent for the church annuity program.
A three-year partnership between Florida Baptist churches and Baptists in Indiana also was authorized. Following the vote, a cooperative agreement between the two state conventions was signed by their executive directors, John Sullivan of Florida and Charles Sullivan of Indiana. The two are not related.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 11-12 in Pensacola.