ALTOONA, Pa. (BP)–The 38th annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey, hosted by the Conemaugh Valley Baptist Association, convened with 126 messengers from 74 churches and a total attendance of 254 at the Ramada Inn & Conference Center in Altoona, Pa., Nov. 6-7.
The opening session began with worship led by Jerry Martin, director of music at Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia. John Richardson, youth evangelism associate for the Penn-Jersey convention, presented the theme, “Certainty in Uncertainty,” in song.
Fred Wolfe of Mobile, Ala., presented a Bible study, admonishing those attending to “never lose confidence in the Word of God” and to rely on His Word for answers.
“There is no time like now to be in God’s Word,” Wolfe said.
Steve Stroebel, manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in York, Pa., presented a leather Baptist Hymnal to K. Marshall Williams Sr., president of the Penn-Jersey convention.
The mass choirs of Nazarene Baptist Church presented the special music before Williams, their pastor, gave the president’s address. He preached from 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, asking “Who is the man of God?” He encouraged messengers to pray for their pastors.
Music during the Thursday evening session was led by Chad Winder, minister of music at Winfield (Pa.) Baptist Church. The welcome was given by Gordon Douglas, a comedian from Glen Mills, Pa., and a member of The Foundry in Wallingford, Pa.
Three representatives from the Penn-Jersey disaster relief ministry gave testimonies and then invited messengers to view the new feeding unit parked outside.
David Waltz, executive director-treasurer of the Penn-Jersey convention, expressed gratitude for those on his staff who have picked up the slack during a time of financial uncertainty when additional workers cannot be hired.
Waltz, who has served in the position for 18 years, emphasized four “things that count:” integrity more than image, truth more than techniques, cause more than career, and the final lap more than the first lap.
“People are what really matters,” he said, adding, “You don’t go wrong in honoring your pastor.”
Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., presented a Bible study during the Friday morning session.
The Cooperative Program budget approved for 2009 reflects a decrease of 5.45 percent, calling for $946,266 from the two states’ churches. The convention continues to increase CP giving to national and international missions and ministries from 25 percent of CP gifts in 2008 to 25.1 in 2009. Counting funding from the North American Mission Board and other sources, an overall 2009 budget of $3,456,828 was approved. Also in 2009, Keystone Baptist Association has voted to begin phasing in full support of their associational missionary.
Peter Yanes, pastor of International Bible Church in Upper Darby, Pa., was elected president of the convention; Kim Grueser, pastor of Pittsburgh Baptist Church, was elected first vice president; and Bob Lindsay, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Windber, Pa., was elected second vice president.
Doug Lesher, a member of Thompsontown (Pa.) Baptist Church, was elected recording secretary; Emma Tentarelli, a member of Fellowship at the Voorhees in New Jersey, was elected assistant recording secretary; Fred Boehlke, a member of Trinity Baptist Church in Philadelphia, was elected historian; and Garret Rain, a member of Valley Baptist Church in Middletown, Pa., was elected parliamentarian.
Messengers passed a resolution of appreciation for the 437 trained Penn-Jersey disaster relief volunteers and their director. The resolution stated that “on this, the occasion of the unveiling of our new feeding unit, we recognize the six years of dedicated, tireless, volunteer leadership and service of our State Disaster Relief Director, Karlene Campbell, and of her husband Craig Campbell for his years of painstaking labor in the engineering, design, testing, and oversight of the construction” of the feeding unit.
Discussion regarding a constitutional amendment to provide for messengers based on CP giving as well as number of members was minimal as messengers voted overwhelmingly to adopt it as presented by the constitution and bylaws committee.
After more praise and worship, Larry Hutcherson, pastor of Inner City Ministries in Pittsburgh and an African American church planter for the Baptist Association of Southwest Pennsylvania, brought the convention sermon from Luke 5:36-39, reminding messengers not to put new wine in old wineskins.
Moises Rosario, a church planter for the Western region of Pennsylvania, and a choir from Doylestown, Pa., began the Friday afternoon session with a mix of English and Spanish songs. Iorg of Golden Gate again brought the Bible study.
Geoff Hammond, president of the North American Mission Board, gave a charge to the Penn-Jersey convention’s new officers and then prayed for them during his presentation on end times ministry from 1 Peter 4:7-11. He encouraged the convention to stand in prayer, show love, share hospitality and serve in God’s strength.
The Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey includes more than 400 churches with more than 55,000 members.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 5-6 in the central region of the Penn-Jersey convention.
Based on reporting by Fanny Grote of the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey.