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SBTC raises percentage for SBC missions, hears from governor

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AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–Messengers to the ninth Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting voted to increase the percentage of Cooperative Program funding for Southern Baptist Convention mission causes to 54 percent and approved an unprecedented ministry relationship with the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas.

Newly re-elected Republican Gov. Rick Perry addressed the meeting at Austin’s Great Hills Baptist Church during the afternoon session Nov. 14. “I don’t make any bones about it,” Perry told the convention. “I’m a Christian.” Perry said churches offer people something government cannot: redemption.

Miles Seaborn, retired pastor of Fort Worth’s Birchman Baptist Church and a former missionary to the Philippines, received the H. Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award, named in honor of Pressler’s work in the SBC’s conservative resurgence and given annually to a Texan who has demonstrated similar leadership at the state or national level.

Seaborn was instrumental in the 1998 formation of the SBTC, which has grown from about 120 churches to more than 1,820.

Pressler told the convention he initially “threw cold water” on the idea of a new state convention.

“The fact that we’re here today — over 1,820 churches, a budget that is very strong, a great leadership in giving Cooperative Program funds, a leadership in missions, a leadership in soul winning — is due to the vision of Miles Seaborn. And Miles, I’m grateful for you. You saw it, you understood it, I didn’t. And thank you for leading. I’m very grateful to you.”

In addition to the 54 percent of the 2007 budget of $20.079 million going to SBC causes, the remaining 46 percent of CP receipts will fund Texas ministries. The budget is an increase of $778,840, or 4.04 percent, over 2006.

Messengers, who numbered more than 700, elected for a second term as convention president Steve Swofford, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rockwall. They also elected Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Baptist Church in Houston, as first vice president. Lino defeated Gerald Smith, executive pastor of First Baptist Church of Katy, in the convention’s only contested race.

Marcos Ramos, pastor of First Baptist Church of Galena Park, was elected second vice president, and Yolanda McPherson of Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth was re-elected recording secretary.

Messengers also approved an agreement with the Baptist Missionary of Association of Texas to partner in some evangelistic and ministry endeavors. The BMA has historically differed with Southern Baptists over cooperative missions funding, but in recent years the SBTC and BMA of Texas have made strides in cooperation on shared ministry concerns, including Christian higher education.

In 2004, the BMA-owned Jacksonville College affiliated with the SBTC, and in 2005 the Texas Baptist Home for Children in Waxahachie, another BMA of Texas ministry, affiliated as well. Both the college and the children’s home continue to be predominately governed by the BMA of Texas but also receive SBTC budgeted funds.

The convention passed nine resolutions, including statements against unbiblical expressions of the gift of tongues, religious and ethnic persecution in the Sudanese region of Darfur and Wal-Mart’s corporate endorsement of homosexual activist groups.

Other resolutions expressed:

— sufficiency of the Word of God for the Christian life.

— opposition to beverage alcohol based on biblical warnings and social problems stemming from alcohol use.

— support for immigration reforms that “embody biblical justice and mercy” while protecting the security of the borders.

— prayerful hope that the U.S. and other countries would “address decisively” North Korea’s provocative missile testing, and that any negotiations would address human rights and religious freedom.

— a call to greater Cooperative Program support from churches and also affirmation of local church autonomy in deciding how to disburse funds.

The complete text of each resolution is available at www.sbtexas.com.

Perry, a Methodist and fifth-generation Texan from Paint Creek, said his walk of faith began in the small town with one school and no post office 60 miles north of Abilene. Perry has publicly stated that he received Christ at age 9 during the Baptist church’s Vacation Bible School.

“We had a Baptist church on one end of the property and a Methodist church on the other end. So we spent as much time in the Baptist church and Vacation Bible School,” he said.

Stating that his faith journey is the most important journey of his life, Perry said he was happy to address “men and women who are dedicated to building a better Texas and dedicated to the faith.”

The SBTC Pastors’ Conference, which preceded the annual meeting at Great Hills, drew a high attendance of more than 1,800 people to hear opening night sermons from the host pastor, Lewis, Arlington’s Dwight McKissic and former SBC president and Oklahoma pastor Tom Elliff, now vice president for spiritual nurture at the International Mission Board.

The Pastors’ Conference elected as president Don Wills, pastor of First Baptist Church in Fort Worth; Billy Norris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Fate, first vice president; and Lyn Holly, pastor of Boyd Baptist Church in Bonham, secretary-treasurer.

Preceding the annual meeting, six days of “Crossover Austin” evangelism rallies, door-to-door surveys and a first-ever 5k race contributed to Austin-area Southern Baptists leading 85 people to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

The 5k “Race Against Time” raised money for a Baptist AIDS/HIV ministry in South Africa and drew more than 300 runners.

    About the Author

  • Jerry Pierce