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Penn./Jersey convention increases CP giving for 10th consecutive year

CLARION, Pa. (BP)–For the 10th year in a row, the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey has increased its percent-of-budget giving to Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program missions and ministries.

Messengers to the Nov. 1-2 annual meeting in Clarion, Pa., approved an overall budget of $3,118,024 for 2002, up 2.55 percent over the current year.

The budget includes an anticipated $855,962 in Cooperative Program giving from Penn./Jersey churches, with 24.35 percent allocated for Southern Baptist Convention causes, up from last year’s 24.25 percent, marking the 10th consecutive percent-of-budget increase in CP Missions giving for national and international missions and ministries.

Also during the meeting, held at Clarion’s Zion Baptist Church, messengers unanimously approved a resolution adopted by the executive board in May describing the “most recent Baptist Faith and Message as a resource for better understanding and teaching of Southern Baptist beliefs and practices.” The latest BF&M statement of beliefs was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in June 2000.

The Penn./Jersey resolution also described the Bible as “God’s totally true and trustworthy Word, as our sole authority for faith and practice.”

The convention’s executive board additionally noted that “Board-elected staff be asked to affirm the current Baptist Faith and Message statement and to explain any points of disagreement and if elected to work within the parameters of the current Baptist Faith and Message.”

Messengers re-elected Leon Runner, pastor of Paoli (Pa.) Baptist Church, as convention president and Tom Schenk, pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church, McMurray, Pa., as first vice president. Christopher Wells, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Tyrone, Pa., was elected second vice president.

Claretta Nash, in behalf of her late husband, Henry, received a “Lifetime Achievement Award for Meritorious Christian Service.” Henry Nash died Dec. 1, 2000, and was the convention’s president at the time and founding pastor of Grace Community Baptist Church in Philadelphia.

Among convention speakers:

— Runner challenged messengers not to put God on hold. “How often have we told God that he needs to wait until we are ready to respond to his call?” Runner asked. “We need to answer immediately.”

— David Waltz, the convention’s executive director, underscored the need for evangelism, reminding, “Many people under 21 years of age have very little or no knowledge of Christianity.”

— William Scott, pastor of Faith Canaan Baptist Church in Philadelphia and local coordinator of the Strategic Focus Cities initiative, in the convention sermon likewise underscored the urgency of sharing the gospel.

— David Rasmussen, pastor of Greencastle (Pa.) Baptist Church, in leading a Bible study on Acts 16, noted, “Those who don’t hold the same religious beliefs [as Baptists] are not our enemies. They are our mission field.”

— Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist Convention, noted the opportunity Christians have in insecure times to help people find the security of Christ.

— Wanda Lee, executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union, exhorted messengers to “answer the call” at times when God’s call is not always easy and when they might not understand why they are called to a specific task.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 7-8 at Nazarene Baptist Church, Philadelphia.

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