News Articles



At 199th annual meeting, Alabama Baptists praise God’s work — past, present, future

By Carrie Brown McWhorter/The Alabama Baptist

Celebrating what God has done, is doing and can do through them, Alabama Baptists gathered for their 199th annual meeting Nov. 15–16 at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Messengers to the Alabama Baptist State Convention approved a $37 million Cooperative Program budget for 2023, maintaining the same budgeted amounts as in 2022 and continuing the 50/50 allocation of funds between Alabama Baptist ministries and national efforts through the Southern Baptist Convention. Funds also were allocated to help retired pastors and wives through Mission:Dignity.

Alabama Baptists’ Sexual Abuse Task Force reported the results of its year-long review of policies and practices of Cooperative Program-funded state convention entities and auxiliaries, including the State Board of Missions, related to sex abuse.

Task force chair Craig Carlisle, director of missions for the Etowah Baptist Association, delivered a favorable report but said the real challenge will be for churches going forward.

“While our task was to audit the policies of our entities and auxiliaries … ultimately our church leaders will be on the frontlines of seeking to prevent sexual abuse in our churches and families,” Carlisle said. (Download the full report here.)

The 685 registered messengers, plus more than 100 registered guests and others, also heard plans to celebrate 200 years of cooperative ministry work. The Alabama Baptist State Convention first gathered Oct. 28–29, 1823, at Salem Baptist Church near Greensboro in West Central Alabama. (See full story here.) The bicentennial celebration will culminate at next year’s annual meeting at First Baptist Church Montgomery, scheduled for Nov. 14–15, 2023, focusing on the theme “Unfinished.”

In his report, Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, spotlighted an initiative called “The Gospel to Everyone,” a statewide effort to reach every home in Alabama with the gospel and help churches better connect with their communities. 

Lance, who celebrated his 25th annual meeting in the role of SBOM executive director, also spoke of state efforts focused on raising the next generation of ministry leaders and encouraged churches to participate in a March 10–11 Send Relief Serve Tour project in Montgomery.

Other business

Messengers approved the following special offering goals for 2023:

  • Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, $12 million.
  • Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, $6 million.
  • Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, $3 million.
  • Myers-Mallory State Missions Offering, $1.2 million.
  • Hunger Offering, $800,000.

Messengers passed seven resolutions, including a call for repeal of a state law legalizing medical marijuana and an appeal to legislators to continue to protect minor children from transgender treatments. 

2022–23 officers

Officers for the Alabama Baptist State Convention for 2022–23 were elected without opposition Nov. 16.

Messengers reelected Buddy Champion, pastor of First Baptist Church Trussville, to serve a second term as president of the convention.

Morgan Bailey, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Ranburne, will serve a second term as first vice president.

Jarman Leatherwood, founding pastor of House of Hope and Restoration Church in Huntsville, will serve a second term as second vice president. Leatherwood also was announced as the convention preacher for 2023.

Leatherwood was part of a historic moment during the final session of the annual meeting. He became the first African American to gavel in and lead proceedings during an ABSC annual meeting.

Next year’s Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting will be held Nov. 14–15, 2023, at First Baptist Church Montgomery.

Read the full story here.

Find more coverage of the Alabama Baptist annual meeting at thealabamabaptist.org/.

BGCT celebrates unwavering commitment to sharing Christ, showing love

By Bonnie Shaw/BGCT

More than 1,800 messengers and guests gathered in Waco, Texas, Nov. 13-15 to take part in the 137th Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT). Drawing from Galatians 6:9, the theme of the three-day event was “Unwavering.” Attendees participated in worship celebrations, business sessions, rallies and workshops.

David Hardage gives his last address as BGCT executive director to messengers at the group’s annual meeting.

Worship celebrations and Convention leadership focus on unwavering faith, unity

In his final annual meeting executive director’s report, David Hardage spoke from his heart to attendees, celebrating milestones and encouraging steadfastness. Hardage shared his hope that Texas Baptists protect the unity and harmony the Convention enjoys. Calling it rare and a treasure, Hardage passionately urged churches to take up the responsibility to guard that unity.

“It has to be the Gospel above all else, and around that we build our harmony, around that we build our unity, around that we stay together, and around that our best days are yet to come,” Hardage said.

Hardage will retire at the end of this year.

Officers elected, increased budget and other business approved

Julio Guarneri, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, was elected president; Nebiye Kelile, pastor of Pathway Church in Dallas, was elected first vice president; and Ronny Marriott, pastor of First Baptist Church of Burleson, was elected second vice president. All officers ran unopposed.

Newly-elected officers (from left): Second Vice President Ronny Marriott, President Julio Guarneri, First Vice President Nebiye Kelile

The 2023 budget was introduced by Ward Hayes, treasurer and CFO for Texas Baptists. He explained how the money given to the Cooperative Program was being used to help the pastors and churches of the Convention. Hayes highlighted the Inflation Relief Grants and Pastor Sabbatical Grants, which helped a combined total of 272 pastors. He also highlighted the Hispanic Education Initiative, which has provided more than $700,000 in scholarships since its inception 20 years ago.

“God has been good to us. He remains faithful, our churches have remained faithful and I want to make sure the glory goes to Him during this report,” Hayes said.

Messengers approved the proposed 2023 Texas Baptists missions and ministry $35.46 million budget. This is the second consecutive year the budget has increased. The percentage allotment of the adopted budget was approved to continue at 79 percent for BGCT causes and 21 percent for national and international (“Worldwide”) causes, with each church selecting the recipient(s) of the Worldwide portion. The recommendation for the 2022 Texas World Missions Initiatives and Partnership Allocation was $1 million.

Read the full stories here and here.

Find more coverage of the BGCT meeting at texasbaptists.org.

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