AMARILLO, Texas (BP) — The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, meeting in Amarillo, Texas, embraced a “Look Like Heaven” emphasis to spur cross-cultural worship and cooperation, approved a $27,149,526 Cooperative Program budget — a 3.06 percent increase — and elected a new president, Jimmy Pritchard of Forney, Texas.
Of the budget, 55 percent of undesignated receipts will continue to be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention’s CP allocation budget for worldwide missions and 45 percent retained for Texas ministry.
The meeting, held Oct. 28-29, drew 1,002 registered messengers and guests to the Amarillo Convention Center as the convention marked 15 years of ministry.
Look Like Heaven
Outgoing President Terry Turner, the first African American to hold that post, touted the Look Like Heaven emphasis in his president’s address, quipping: “Now don’t come to the black church and act like you’re black, come to the black church and act like you are…. Let’s everybody be ourselves” while celebrating the unity that exists in Christ.
Taking its lead from Turner, pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church who finished his second term, the Executive Board will encourage churches to exchange preachers and host joint worship services, to set aside each July for special efforts to foster cross-cultural relationships, and to work together in developing greater missional cooperation across cultures year round.
“The good news is God has brought the nations to us,” David Fleming, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, told messengers during the Executive Board report. Fleming is the Look Like Heaven committee chair.
“The diversity of the nations lives within the borders of the state of Texas and our communities. As a convention, we understand we can more effectively reach our communities for Christ when we more intentionally reflect the diversity that is in our communities.”
The convention will continue its 55/45 CP split, forwarding 55 percent of undesignated receipts for SBC missions and retaining 45 percent for in-state ministry. The convention’s first budget, approved at the 1998 annual meeting, reflected a 50/50 split, with incremental increases until 2008 when it reached the 55/45 split. The split includes no “shared” or “preferred” ministry funds.
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) ranks third among state conventions in total Cooperative Program (CP) giving behind Alabama and Georgia, SBTC Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis told messengers. Church planting and evangelism remain the two largest line items of the convention’s in-state budget.
Messengers elected Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney, Texas, by acclamation. In nominating him, Byron McWilliams of First Baptist Church of Odessa pointed to Pritchard’s service in local churches, involvement in denominational work and leadership qualities as the reason he believed Pritchard to be a good choice for president.
Under Pritchard’s leadership, FBC Forney has given more than $6.1 million to missions, gained more than 4,100 new members, baptized more than 2,100 and seen 38 of its congregation surrender to ministry.
McWilliams cited Pritchard’s service on the boards of Criswell College and the International Mission Board as further evidence of his heart to serve and share the gospel.
Pritchard’s leadership prowess would enable him to guide the convention well, McWilliams said.
Messengers also elected James Egan, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gainesville, as vice president and Dante Wright, pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock, as recording secretary. David Wilson, pastor of Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock, nominated Egan. Steve Washburn, pastor of First Baptist Church of Pflugerville, nominated Wright.
Both men ran unopposed and were elected by acclamation.
Messengers approved nine resolutions addressing religious liberty in America; decrying violent and sexual content in video games; supporting immigration reform; commending Texas lawmakers for protecting women via pro-life legislation; urging prayer and action against worldwide Christian persecution; supporting Cooperative Program and missions giving; appreciation for Billy Graham and commitment to evangelism; the “Look Like Heaven” emphasis; and appreciation for Turner, the outgoing president.
A resolution titled “On the Infringement of Religious Liberty in America” calls Christians to “stand for faith” and “pray against the attacks of the enemy” in a society that is increasingly hostile to Christ.
Another, “On Immigration Reform,” outlines six principles advanced by the Evangelical Immigration Table that call for respecting God-given dignity; protecting families; upholding the rule of law; securing borders; ensuring fairness to taxpayers; and establishing a path toward legal residency or citizenship for those who qualify.
The convention presented the H. Paul Pressler Award to GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins. The award is given annually at the SBTC meeting for distinguished service to Southern Baptists. Prior to serving GuideStone, the Fort Worth native served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas (1993-1997), First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., (1978-1993), First Baptist Church of Ada, Okla., (1974-1978) and First Baptist Church of Hobart, Okla., (1972-1974).
In presenting the award, Pressler described Hawkins as a soul winner and a compassionate friend. “I know nobody in the convention who is more sensitive to the needs of others,” Pressler said.
During the Executive Board report, Executive Director Jim Richards spoke of how the convention’s core values — being biblically based, kingdom focused and missionally driven — come into focus through Scripture in a short exposition of Psalm 102:18, the verse for the convention’s theme, “So Others May Live!”
David Wilson, pastor of Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock preached the convention sermon, urging messengers not to continue traditions for tradition’s sake.
“There are a lot of churches that crash every year,” Wilson said, turning to Matthew 9, where Jesus talks about placing new wine in old wineskins. Repeating actions simply because that’s how they’ve always been done often has the same bursting effect of placing new wine in old skins and may be partially responsible for the decline and even death of many Baptist churches, Wilson said.
Bible conference officers
The SBTC Bible Conference elected new officers in meetings preceding the convention.
The new Bible Conference president is Michael Dean, pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, elected by acclamation after being nominated by Jimmy Draper, longtime pastor and president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Scott Maze, pastor of North Richland Hills Baptist Church, was elected unopposed as first vice president, nominated by Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville.
Dongsun Cho, associate pastor of Hanuri Church of Carrollton and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary, was elected unopposed as second vice president, nominated by Jason Duesing, vice president of strategic initiatives and theology professor at Southwestern.
The 2014 annual meeting and Bible Conference will be Nov. 9-11 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
Sharayah Colter is a writer for the Southern Baptist Texan newsjournal, and Jerry Pierce is the managing editor. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).