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Penn-Jersey Baptists report baptisms up 11.5 percent

MONROEVILLE, Pa. (BP)–The Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania-South Jersey reported at its annual meeting in early November that baptisms are up 11.5 percent over the past year, amounting to an increase of just over 3,000 people. In addition, Sunday School attendance is up 7 percent, church attendance is up 6 percent, membership is up 4.6 percent and missions giving has increased across the convention for the 13th consecutive year.

A total of 177 messengers and 100 guests from 62 churches heard the report at the convention’s 34th annual meeting Nov. 4-5 at the Radisson Hotel in Monroeville, Pa., with Monroeville Community Church hosting. The Penn-Jersey convention includes 366 churches with 50,000 members.

Messengers approved a 2004-05 budget of $3,226,858, which is a 1.89 percent increase over the current year. Penn-Jersey sends 24.7 percent of its receipts through the Cooperative Program for national and international missions and ministries while using 75.3 percent for needs within Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Jerry Dixon, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Gettysburg, Pa., was elected president. Domingo Guevarra, pastor of South Jersey Bible Church International in Pitman, N.J., was elected first vice president, and John Doerfler, a member of Dallas Baptist Church in Dallas, Pa., was elected second vice president. Melba Boudreaux, a member of Dallas Baptist Church, was elected recording secretary.

The convention theme was “Exceedingly, Abundantly More,” and Terry Douglas, pastor of Wrightsville Baptist Church in Peach Bottom, Pa., delivered the president’s address.

“Sometimes we are afraid to allow God to do more,” Douglas said. “But He wants to do exceedingly more.”

Trusting God to do exceedingly more often requires risk-taking, but faith demands risks, he said.

David Waltz, executive director of the Penn-Jersey convention, said in addition to the increases in baptism, church attendance and giving, he has observed pastors who want to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. But to make a difference, he said, church leaders must be willing to be broken, which means laying down pride and seeking reconciliation with God — like David demonstrated in Psalm 32 and 51.

Penn-Jersey messengers recognized Robert and Sue Walker for 35 years of service to the convention. During 10 of those years, Robert Walker has served as a volunteer accountant, a contribution that has saved the convention more than $300,000.

Next year’s meeting will be held Nov. 3-4 in Harrisburg, Pa., and will be hosted by the Harrisburg area Pastors Fellowship.
Based on reporting by Ervin L. McWilson.

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