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Renewal, commitment fuel Colo. convention sessions

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)–Colorado’s Southern Baptists continued a recent tradition of worship and prayer taking precedence over business at their 47th annual meeting Oct. 22-23 at Vista Grande Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. Messengers conducted necessary business swiftly and efficiently and experienced extended sessions of preaching, worship, prayer and testimony.

With Habakkuk 3:2 providing the basis for the theme “Renewed in Our Day,” the Baptist General Convention of Colorado celebrated God’s work in the state and renewed themselves for pursuing aggressive church planting, evangelism and ministry opportunities in the years to come.

“The church has many praying men, but few men of prayer,” said Richard Vera, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Edgewater, in the opening session. “We have a lot of good men but we need godly men.”

He challenged messengers and guests to a deeper sense of desperation for God in the first of many such pleadings from the pulpit during the meeting.

“Lots of men pray for revival in America,” said Tom Elliff, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Okla. “But if you’re not willing to have it in your heart, don’t pray for it to happen in America.”

Referring to Hosea 10:12, Elliff encouraged pastors and church leaders to “break up the fallow ground” in their hearts in order to experience true revival.

“If you refuse to break up the fallow ground of your life, your walk with God will only get worse,” he said.

“What scares me, is that any one of us thinks we’ve made it to a stage in life or an age in life that we can’t make any more big decisions in life,” he said.

In a spirit of renewal and recommitment, the altar was filled as men and women knelt and prayed.

In the annual sermon, Lee Byrum, pastor of Mesa View Baptist Church in Mesa, reiterated to Colorado’s Southern Baptists the task of taking the gospel to every person in the state.

“Is it possible that we can keep this vision and never really know the power of God?” he asked. “Let’s un-resource ourselves and put it all on him.”

Mark Edlund, the convention’s executive director and treasurer, joined by the staff’s ministry division directors, reminded messengers of the CBGC’s 2020 vision of “Penetrating Lostness.”

“We’ve got our vision and we strongly believe this to be God’s vision,” he said of the task of reaching every pocket of lostness in Colorado. He outlined the convention’s core values in order of importance: worship, prayer, evangelism, Scripture, cooperation, church health, relevant church planting, leadership development and fluidity.

“Until all people everywhere worship God, we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Edlund said in pointing out that worship is the end result of the churches’ work. Prayer, he added, tills the ground and prepares it for the seed of evangelism.

The next two core values, Scripture and cooperation, are the ones “that make us Southern Baptist,” he said.

“Scripture is the touchstone and validation of all of our methodology,” he said. And referring to cooperation, he added that “we can do more working together than the total sum of our individual efforts.”

Edlund emphasized the importance of church health and challenged messengers to explore new ways of relevant church planting.

“We must change our church culture to validate all doctrinally sound forms of church planting,” he said.

With an aggressive goal of a tenfold increase in the number of churches by the year 2020, he stressed the need for continued leadership development as a core value.

Finally, he referred to the need for fluidity in the convention and referenced Acts 1:8. “The church planting movement that started there was messy,” Edlund said. “We have to expect it to be messy.”

In the final message of the annual meeting, CBGC President Jim Sheets, pastor of Mount Tabor Baptist Church in Byers, reminded attendees of the commitments made throughout the meeting.

“We have our goals, our vision of penetrating lostness in Colorado,” he said. “We’ve committed, we’ve said ‘yes’ to penetrating lostness. My question is, ‘What now, Colorado?’

“It’s going to take every kind of church to reach this state for Christ,” he said.

Business sessions during the convention took place efficiently and with much unity, as messengers seemed anxious to return to preaching, worship, prayer and fellowship.

Messengers approved a 2003 budget of more than $3.6 million dollars, a 2 percent increase over last year. More than $2 million is expected to be given by Colorado’s Southern Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program. Twenty-nine percent of that will continue to be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee to support international and national missions causes through the Cooperative Program.

Sheets was re-elected for a second term as president. Tobey Williams, minister of administration and evangelism at Vista Grande Baptist Church, Colorado Springs, was re-elected for a second term as first vice president. Charlie Jones, pastor of Fellowship of the Rockies, Pueblo, was elected as second vice president. None of the nominees faced opposition and all were elected by acclamation.

Messengers approved a two-year partnership with Baptists in Belarus and approved a resolution expressing appreciation to the International Mission Board and the Hungarian Baptist Union for their involvement in a recent partnership with that country’s Baptist churches.

Another resolution also congratulated the Montana Baptist Fellowship on its recent vote to become a convention. Both Montana and Colorado were formerly part of the Northern Plains Baptist Convention.

Next year’s annual meeting is scheduled for Oct. 21-22 at the North Metro Church in Thornton.

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  • Allen Spencer