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STATE CONVENTION ROUNDUP: Annual meetings harmonious; EKG expands in national focus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Even in states where prolonged debate had occurred in recent years, Southern Baptists experienced harmonious state convention annual meetings this year, most of which were held in October and November.

About a fourth of the state or regional conventions adopted a resolution or embraced as a convention theme the Southern Baptist Convention-wide emphasis on Empowering Kingdom Growth and its call for Baptists to place priority on the Kingdom of God in their lives and churches. Several states like South Carolina — where the concept was pioneered — will utilize the principles of EKG to seek spiritual awakening.

Two state conventions — Arkansas and Louisiana — accepted the Baptist Faith and Message statement adopted by SBC messengers in 2000 as a means of providing doctrinal guidelines for their work. In California, an effort to remove the previously accepted BF&M was strongly defeated. Messengers to the Baptist General Convention of Texas once again rejected a member’s attempt to make the BF&M 2000 a guiding theological statement with some opponents describing the document as heretical.

Most conventions adopted budgets that are larger than the current year’s receipts, with the portion of church contributions forwarded to the SBC for worldwide missions and ministry ranging from 14 to 52 percent, depending on the state or region. Following is a brief summary of actions in each state or regional convention or fellowship. Baptist Press is awaiting reports from the remaining conventions.


Messengers to the Alabama convention adopted a base budget of $40,427,480 and challenge budget of $41,427,480, both reflecting a 3 percent increase from 2002. Cooperative Program receipts for 2003 will continue to be distributed 57.7 percent to Alabama convention causes and 42.3 percent to Southern Baptist Convention causes. Joe Godfrey, pastor of Taylor Road Baptist Church in Montgomery, was elected convention president. Among 11 resolutions were appreciation for the life of the late W.A. Criswell and the Alabama legislature’s passage of the Woman’s Right To Know Act; opposition to gambling, especially state-run lotteries; and a call for removing “language demeaning to racial minorities” from Alabama’s laws and public documents.


The Alaska Baptist Convention passed a $1.9 million budget, forwarding 33 percent of CP gifts to SBC missions and ministries; approved a resolution supporting Empowering Kingdom Growth; and elected Leon May of Anchorage as president. Executive Director David Baldwin outlined a “Light Up Alaska” vision focusing on missions, prayer, church development and evangelism, countering a decline in membership and baptisms in the state.


Messengers to the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention elected John Elder of Green Valley as president and referred to committee a motion seeking more time for consideration of candidates. Messengers adopted a flat $3,261,130 budget, sending 25 percent to SBC causes. Among eight resolutions were praise for entities assisting in renovation of facilities used by ASBC and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and a commitment to pray for the country and unity within ABSC. Constitutional revisions were adopted to address changes made in a recent reorganization.


Messengers overwhelmingly approved a second reading of a change to the convention’s articles of incorporation, making the BF&M the doctrinal guideline for Arkansas Baptists. The measure passed by 75.77 percent, up from the 69.5 percent last year. Re-elected convention President Jim Lagrone of Bryant assured the 283 messengers opposing the BF&M measure of their “seat at the Baptist table in Arkansas.” A $19.5 million budget was approved, forwarding 41.77 percent to SBC causes, and a partnership with Sao Paulo, Brazil, was extended for three more years. Resolutions opposed gambling, encouraged programs and services to children at risk and called for unity.


Messengers to the California Southern Baptist Convention declined an effort to remove “Southern” from their name. An estimated 80 percent defeated a motion to remove the BF&M from the convention’s statement of cooperation. Wayne Stockstill of Heispera was elected president. A $17.1 million budget was approved, forwarding 30 percent to SBC missions and ministries.


Messengers to the Colorado Baptist General Convention approved a 2003 budget of more than $3.6 million dollars, forwarding 29 percent of CP receipts to SBC causes. Jim Sheets of Byers was re-elected president and a two-year partnership with Belarus was approved. Resolutions congratulated the Montana Baptist Fellowship on its vote to seek convention status and thanked the International Mission Board and Hungarian Baptist Union for a recent partnership.



The District of Columbia Baptist Convention elected Charles Updike of Gaithersburg as president. Next year’s budget will be approved next spring as the convention completes a re-visioning process. Of Cooperative Program gifts received from churches, BCMD forwards 35 percent for distribution worldwide. Bylaw changes eliminated one committee and added flexibility to scheduling the annual meeting.


Messengers to the Florida Baptist State Convention delivered a strong pro-family statement and elected Tommy Green of Tampa as president. A $35.2 million budget was approved, forwarding 40 percent to SBC missions and ministries. Messengers also approved a constitutional amendment to allow the convention president a second one-year term.


The Georgia Baptist Convention adopted a $50 million budget, forwarding 43.75 percent to SBC causes, and honored J. Robert White on his 10th anniversary as the convention’s executive director. Wayne Robertson of Valdosta was re-elected president. The ongoing dispute between the convention and Shorter College trustees over the method for selecting college trustees was referred to the convention’s executive committee. Messengers voted to extend the convention’s partnership with Utah-Idaho Baptist Convention. Resolutions included an endorsement of Empowering Kingdom Growth and opposition to partial-birth abortion.


Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention messengers adopted a $2 million-plus budget, forwarding 31.5 percent of CP receipts to SBC causes, and approved a five-year partnership with the Japan Baptist Mission of the IMB. Dan Van Alstine of Mililani was elected president and Executive Director O.W. Efurd brought his last report to the messengers, having announced his retirement for March.


Messengers to the Illinois Baptist State Association approved a flat budget of $5.9 million, forwarding 42 percent of CP receipts to SBC causes. Cut from the budget was funding for a newly created position of associate executive director, while agreeing to further study. Larry Richmond of O’Fallon was re-elected president.


Messengers to the Iowa Baptist Convention re-elected David Miller of Cedar Rapids as president and approved a $1.69 million budget, forwarding 20 percent of CP receipts to SBC causes. A state convention emphasis similar to Empowering Kingdom Growth was endorsed and resolutions included an expression of appreciation to state staff.


Honored for 12 years of service as executive director, retiring Charles W. Sullivan praised the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana for emphasizing evangelism, church planting and missions involvement. Messengers approved a $4.56 million budget, sending 32.5 percent of CP receipts to SBC missions and ministries, and approved a new three-year partnership with eastern Ukraine. Jim Hamilton of Sellersburg was elected president and resolutions included support for EKG and opposition to taxation of church property.


Messengers re-elected Glenn Davis of Salina as president and thanked R. Rex “Peck” Lindsay for his 25 years of service as executive director of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. Messengers approved a $5.74 million budget, sending 31.75 percent of CP receipts to SBC causes, and a resolution affirming the Covenant Marriage Movement.


Paul Badgett of Pikeville was elected president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention — the first unopposed nominee in more than a decade. A flat $24.5 million budget was approved, forwarding 36 percent to SBC missions and ministries. Messengers passed resolutions praising Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union; volunteerism in eastern Kentucky missions; churches as houses of prayer; Kentucky Baptist colleges; and unity and cooperation among Kentucky Baptists. Messengers also voted to reaffirm a 1996 resolution condemning partial-birth abortion.


Louisiana Baptists voted 819-370 to approve inclusion of the BF&M in convention bylaws, affirming inerrancy of Scripture in the state convention and agreeing the convention will work in accordance with that principle. Messengers defined a cooperating church as one that gives through the state Cooperative Program and clarified the system of employing and administering associational directors of missions. Messengers were assured that Louisiana College, the Louisiana Baptist Messenger, Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and the Baptist Retirement Center remain tied to the convention. A flat $23.9 million budget was approved, continuing to send 35 percent to the SBC. Steve James of Lake Charles was re-elected president. Resolutions addressed pornography, human cloning, abortion, gambling and homosexuality, while also affirming the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the war on terrorism and the nation of Israel.



Mississippi Baptists re-elected Frank Pollard of Jackson as president and approved a $31.59 million budget, sending 35 percent to SBC causes. A motion to amend the constitution to prohibit CBF supporters from serving in MBC roles passed, but was later ruled out of order and referred for further study. A resolution passed affirming the historical role of male pastors and encouragement to women serving in churches and worldwide ministries, commitment to obey the Great Commission and ministry to the mentally retarded.


Missouri Baptists installed their new executive director, David Clippard, who supported the refusal of messengers to drop legal action against five breakaway convention entities. Messengers also approved releasing $2.1 million in escrow for the entities that became self-perpetuating, now forwarding the funds to the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, Southwest Baptist University, Hannibal-LaGrange College and William Jewell University, each receiving $100,000, with $200,000 allocated to church planting and $750,000 for next year’s state missions offering. Springfield pastor Kenny Qualls was elected president and a new partnership with Romanian Baptists was approved. Bylaw references to the Word & Way as the official newsjournal were removed and messengers approved a $17.5 million budget, forwarding 35.75 to SBC causes. Resolutions addressed Internet pornography and the responsibility of citizens to vote.


The Montana Southern Baptist Fellowship celebrated 50 years of organized work in the state by voting to move from fellowship status to full convention status with the Southern Baptist Convention. Messengers approved a $1.43 million budget, sending 22 percent of CP receipts to SBC causes. B.G. Stumberg of East Helena was elected president. Messengers approved a resolution commending Yellowstone Baptist College president Bill Phillips and others contributing to record enrollment and expansion.


Messengers elected Eddie Hancock of Winnemucca as president and passed a $2.5 million budget, reporting that the convention’s building indebtedness had been paid, freeing up more funds for ministry. Nevada Baptists raised the portion of CP receipts forwarded to SBC missions and ministries by .25 percent.


Baptist Convention of New England messengers elected Mark Ballard of Londonderry, N.H., as president and endorsed his recommendation to plan an intentional prayer strategy for the five-state convention. Constitutional changes creating two new board committees were approved and resolutions commended disaster relief teams assisting New York City following Sept. 11, President Bush’s call for prayer and the BCNE staff for bringing the convention through a financial crisis of two years earlier. Messengers approved a flat budget of $2.73 million, forwarding 21 percent of CP receipts to SBC causes.


New Mexico Baptists dedicated a new state convention building and approved a $3.5 million budget, forwarding 30.5 percent to SBC causes. Larry Haslam of Santa Fe, a former director of the SBC Glorieta conference center, was elected convention president. A resolution commended the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s executive director, Claude Cone, and the president of the New Mexico Baptist Foundation, Lee Black, for their leadership in avoiding controversy and making sound investments. Among resolutions was a pledge to pray for missionaries.


North Carolina Baptist Convention messengers adopted a $37.55 million budget and voted to study whether one of four giving plans is in violation of the constitution since it provides no funds for SBC causes. Jerry Pereira of Swannonoa was re-elected as convention president. A current partnership with Alaska Baptists was extended two more years. Messengers also voted to set in place a biannual budgeting process and approved resolutions to study how North Carolina Baptists might respond to the recent dismissal of chaplains by the North Carolina Baptist Department of Corrections. Messengers also voiced gratitude to North Carolina legislators for rejecting a lottery referendum.


The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma adopted resolutions addressing covenant marriage, a state lottery, Internet pornography, evangelistic prayer and biblical repentance. Messengers elected Wade Burleson of Enid as president and passed a $22.4 million budget, forwarding 40 percent to SBC missions and ministries. An update on improvements to Falls Creek Baptist Assembly reported $11 million in pledges received. Sustained involvement in partnerships with Arizona, Mexico, Rome and China was encouraged.


Messengers elected Terry Douglas of Peachbottom, Pa., as president of the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania-South Jersey. A flat budget of $3.16 million was approved, forwarding 15 percent of CP receipts to SBC causes. Messengers expressed appreciation to retiring associational missionary Bob Tallent.


The South Carolina Baptist Convention celebrated the 10-year Empowering Kingdom Growth emphasis and elected Hal Lane of Greenwood as president. A $32.15 million budget was approved, forwarding 40 percent to SBC missions and ministries. The budget committee chairman observed that EKG had provided South Carolina Baptists with a focus larger than issues that might separate the convention, enabling eight years of exceeding the budget goals. Messengers also heard a report of the reorganization of state convention staff and passed resolutions urging support of EKG as the five-year strategy for spiritual awakening in South Carolina; evangelistic outreach and ministry to homosexuals; ministry to crime victims; prayer regarding Iraq; urging churches to denounce domestic violence; praising the state’s General Assembly for approving a license plate bearing the words “In God We Trust”; and affirming the biblical image of marriage and belief in the biblical doctrine of creation while opposing teaching on evolution.


A vote on expanding the role of convention officers to include appointive powers failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority need to change the Tennessee Baptist Convention constitution. Ronnie Wilburn of Memphis was elected president and messengers approved a $37,191,907 budget, sending 37.5 percent to SBC missions and ministries. Partnerships with The Baptist Mission of Portugal and the Carioca Baptist Convention in Rio de Janeiro were extended. Resolutions expressed concern to the SBC Annuity Board on major increases in health insurance premiums and requested state legislators allow input on regulatory bodies from Tennesseans who opposed the recently approved lottery.


Messengers approved a $50.8 million budget that increases the amount kept in state to 79 percent, from the previous 72.3 percent of receipts. The budget also allows churches to select the recipient of those funds from among the SBC, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or a BGCT-designed worldwide effort. The BGCT will no longer place restrictions on funds sent to the SBC in order to defund the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission or cap the amount going to SBC seminaries. A new missions network was approved that connects BGCT churches to mission opportunities with other churches, associations, institutions and partnerships. Bob Campbell of Houston was re-elected without opposition to serve as president. Messengers rejected a proposal to embrace the BF&M 2000 as a guiding theological statement for its ministries.


Messengers approved a 56 percent increase in the budget of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, to $14 million, with the amount forwarded to the SBC increased to 52 percent. George Harris of San Antonio was re-elected president and resolutions addressed the centrality of Christ, church and state relations, journalistic integrity and financial assistance of needy annuitants.


Messengers elected Kirk Casey of Idaho Falls, Idaho, as president and approved a slightly lower budget of $2,089,461, forwarding 21 percent to SBC missions and ministries. Messengers approved constitutional changes affecting composition of the executive board for the Utah/Idaho Southern Baptist Convention and heard messages EKG. A resolution endorsed covenant marriage principles.


Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia elected Tim Piland of Suffolk, as convention president. Messengers approved a $6 million budget, representing a 20 percent increase over the pervious year, and forwarding 50 percent to SBC causes. An amendment to the constitution removes the individual affiliation provision and sets the maximum size of the executive board at no more than 30 members. Messengers heard a progress report on the implementation plan for restructuring the convention, setting forth five ministry areas and employing five missionaries to serve in the designated areas as well as a supervisor, Geoff Hammond, who will serve as the state missions team leader.


Messengers overwhelmingly approved a major revamping of the Baptist General Association of Virginia. A leaner $15 million budget was approved with a $500,000 challenge goal to fund new initiatives. Left in place are two giving tracks — one forwarding 34 percent of receipts to the SBC and another forwarding 28 percent of receipts to CBF. Another track was modified to include new funds for the in-state ministries by reducing SBC support by 12.5 percent. Elected as BGAV president was homemaker Beth Fogg of Richmond.


Messengers to the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists adopted a statewide focus on Empowering Kingdom Growth and approved resolutions regarding gambling; pornography; the Covenant Marriage Movement; political involvement; recognition of national, world and mission needs; and appreciation for the state staff. A $2,629,600 budget was approved, forwarding 37.5 percent of CP receipts to SBC missions and ministries, and Richard Carbaugh of Grandview was re-elected as convention president.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MORE THAN A MEETING.

Alabama Baptist State Convention
Alaska Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14131
Arizona Southern Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14694
Arkansas Baptist State Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14552
California Southern Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14714
Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14655 & www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14654
Colorado Baptist General Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14519
Florida Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14663 & www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14664
Baptist Convention of the State of Georgia — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14665
Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14705
Illinois Baptist State Association — http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14695
State Convention of Baptists in Indiana — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14588 & www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14589
Baptist Convention of Iowa — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14587
Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14545
Kentucky Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14667
Louisiana Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14685
Missouri Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14565
Mississippi Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14566
Montana Southern Baptist Fellowship — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14536
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14666
Baptist Convention of New Mexico — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14595
Nevada Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14693
Baptist Convention of New York — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14647
Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14674
South Carolina Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14683
Tennessee Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14675
Southern Baptists of Texas — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14564 & www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14581
Baptist General Convention of Texas — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14653
Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14633
Baptist General Association of Virginia — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14643
Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14684
West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists — www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=14620

    About the Author

  • Tammi Reed Ledbetter