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Pastors baptize 6 people at Penn/Jersey convention

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (BP)–Six people were baptized by local pastors during the 35th annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey at West Shore Evangelical Free Church in Mechanicsburg, Pa.

The baptisms, on Friday evening, began with a father baptizing his own son. Peter Yanes, pastor of International Bible Fellowship in Philadelphia, baptized his son, Christian, calling him a son and brother in Christ.

Two other Philadelphia pastors also participated, with Rafael Torres of Mission Bautista Olney, baptizing Gladys Menchacca, Darwin Menchacca, Cesar Menchacca and Abram Arellano, and Rafeael Rivera of Divina Gracia Baptist Church baptizing Monaica Posso.

A record of more than 500 messengers representing 375 churches with 58,296 total members registered for the Nov. 3-4 sessions, which kicked off with a processional of flags representing the Acts 1:8 call to reach “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world” with the Gospel.

Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, delivered a message emphasizing that Christians should pray to be in God’s will rather than for safety -– and be willing to lose their lives for Christ.

David Waltz, the convention’s executive director-treasurer, was honored for 15 years of service and shared memories of attending the first meeting of the two-state convention, where his father presided as executive director. At the time, just 59 churches and 9,578 members were part of the Penn/Jersey body.

“We celebrate good things that God has been doing, but we should be looking to the future,” Waltz said. “That’s the important thing now.”

Messengers heard a North American Mission Board report about disaster relief accomplishments in the Gulf Coast region, where more than 10 million meals have been served since Hurricane Katrina hit. A video presentation illustrated the devastation as well as the work done by hundreds of Southern Baptist volunteers.

Jerry Dixon, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Gettysburg, Pa., was re-elected president. Jimmie Knox, pastor of Chambersburg Baptist Church in Chambersburg, Pa., was elected first vice president and Roger Manao, pastor of Philadelphia International Bible Church in Philadelphia, second vice president. Melba Boudreaux, a member of Dallas (Pa.) Baptist Church, was re-elected recording secretary.

A 2006 budget of $3,313,446 was passed unanimously, representing a 2.69 percent increase over the current year. Anticipated Cooperative Program giving from churches for the coming year is $942,057, which is a 6.54 percent increase. Penn/Jersey Baptists will forward 24.8 percent for national and international missions and ministries, up .1 percent, marking the 13th year the amount has increased.

Messengers and guests took part in a missions extravaganza, which featured food samples prepared by members of the convention’s ethnic churches; interactive games for adults and children alike, representing various ministries within the convention; and a meal provided by Pennsylvania/South Jersey disaster relief volunteers, who set up the trailers that had just returned from the Gulf Coast region for messengers to view. The volunteers recounted testimonies from their hurricane relief ministry and explained various facets of the disaster relief operation.

“It was a very worshipful time with excellent fellowship,” Jerry Schmoyer, pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Doylestown, Pa., said of the annual meeting. “Most of all, I sensed God’s presence. God spoke to me more in those two days than at any other event I’ve attended.”

The 2006 annual meeting will be Nov. 2-3 in the Lancaster area, hosted by Wrightsville Baptist Church in Peach Bottom, Pa.
Based on a report by Fanny Grote.

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