CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (BP)–Messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting re-elected Odessa pastor Byron McWilliams as president, approved a $25.4 million budget and passed five resolutions on issues ranging from sex trafficking to racial reconciliation.
But for messengers and guests at the closing session, the commissioning of 36 North American Mission Board missionaries headed for ministry in places such as Vancouver, British Columbia, and Madison, Wis., was a stirring addition to this year’s proceedings.
The meeting, at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi Nov. 15-16, drew 820 messengers and 403 registered guests for business sessions, preaching, a prayer focus tied to this year’s theme and the commissioning service that featured a charge to missionaries from new NAMB President Kevin Ezell.
Following Ezell’s sermon — an exhortation from Mark 2 to get people to Jesus with the same determination shown by the four men who overcame the crowd to get a paralytic to Jesus — those in the auditorium gathered in groups and prayed audibly over the missionaries. The commissioning was the second of Ezell’s tenure.
In closing the commissioning service, Richard Harris, NAMB vice president for missions advancement, prayed that the missionaries would “change the population of heaven,” adding, “Father, they can’t do everything in reaching the 258 million lost people in North America, but they can do something.”
The convention officers were elected without opposition. McWilliams, pastor of First Baptist Church in Odessa, will serve a customary second term as president.
Messengers elected to a first term as vice president Loui Canchola, pastor of Cornerstone Church in McAllen, a seven-year-old congregation planted partly by the SBTC. Messengers also re-elected recording secretary Pat Anderson, a retired schoolteacher and member of Keeler Baptist Church in Borger.
The 2011 budget of $25,469,987 is a 2.55 percent increase over 2010. “God is our supply; we simply walk by faith,” SBTC Executive Board chairman John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, told messengers in presenting the budget.
A motion from Aaron Meraz, pastor of Bridgeway Baptist Church in McKinney, to use $1 million in surplus funds to supplement the $1.4 million budgeted for church planting was voted down after SBTC missions director Terry Coy told messengers the added funds would be more useful “when the [church planter] pipeline increases…. Right now we are in great shape.”
Coy told messengers the church planting process has been retooled over several years. “We believe we have the highest quality process in Southern Baptist life,” Coy said.
Of the 45 percent of undesignated receipts retained for in-state ministry, about 36 percent is earmarked for missions and evangelism. The SBTC forwards 55 percent of Cooperative Program funds to the Southern Baptists Convention’s CP allocation budget for national and international missions, seminary education and related ministries.
Messengers approved without dissent or discussion five resolutions on racial reconciliation, life-affirming stem cell research, gambling, sex trafficking, and adoption and orphan care.
The racial reconciliation resolution acknowledged the “nearly 400 ethno-linguistic groups” in Texas and commended “continuing efforts to make the representative diversity of our convention” reflected in leadership.
Also of note was the stem-cell research resolution, which referred to the research of “Dr. Shinya Yamanaka [who] while at Kyoto University in 2007 discovered a method of transforming somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells — thus making embryo-destructive research unnecessary….”
The sex-trafficking resolution decried the 293,000 minors exploited annually in the United States and encouraged churches to “support victim rescue and restoration ministries.” The resolution comes on the heels of the Texas attorney general’s office announcing its intention to aid law enforcement agencies in combating sex trafficking during Super Bowl week next February, when the game comes to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Retired Judge H. Paul Pressler of Houston presented the award named for him to David Galvan, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in Garland. The recipient is voted on annually by the SBTC board. Pressler praised Galvan, a former SBTC first vice president, Southwestern Seminary trustee chairman and current Criswell College trustee, for exemplifying leadership in every organization he serves.
“He did not start out a Southern Baptist. His father was a Methodist pastor,” Pressler said. “But by conviction he became a Southern Baptist.”
Richard Land, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, presented the ERLC Distinguished Service Award for 2010 to Jim Richards, SBTC executive director.
Land said ERLC trustees voted to honor Richards “for his exemplary service to the Kingdom of God as a prophetic reformer at a critical time to call the Southern Baptist Convention away from the decay of liberalism and to help lead its conservative theological resurgence.”
Richards served the Christian Life Commission, which became the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, from 1988-95, including as chairman in 1993-94.
“It honors our award to have given it to Dr. Jim Richards,” Land said.
The 2011 SBTC meeting is scheduled Nov. 14-15 at the Irving Convention Center in Irving.
Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN (www.texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention