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STATE MEETINGS: Alabama, Northwest

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Alabama Baptists strive to be ‘ChristCentered’ By The Alabama Baptist Staff HUNSTVILLE, Ala. (BP) – Messengers to the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 16-17 approved the appointment of a Sexual Abuse Task Force, passed a slightly decreased budget of $37 million and heard a variety of messages and reports around the “ChristCentered” theme. The meeting was held at Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville. Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, also introduced seven missional initiatives that express how the SBOM is trying to be “Christ-focused and Christ-centered.” The establishment of a Sexual Abuse Task Force came in the form of a motion by retired attorney Melissa Bowen, messenger from First Baptist Church Prattville, and passed overwhelmingly with no debate. “The purpose of this task force would be to review the policies and practices of our Cooperative Program-funded state convention entities and auxiliaries, including the State Board of Missions, related to sex abuse,” the motion reads. Results are to be reported during the 2022 annual meeting. Also receiving favorable passage with no debate were resolutions on abortion and race. Resolution No. 2, “On Protecting Unborn Children by Prioritizing Legislation,” calls for Alabama legislators to work within their power to end abortion. It passed after an amendment was offered by Jason Hobbs, pastor of and messenger from Community Baptist Church in Maylene, to adapt the original language in one section from “further regulate and limit abortion” to “abolish abortion.” Resolution No. 3, “On Sufficiency of Scripture Concerning Racial and Intercultural Relations,” acknowledges that “the sin of racism continues to exist” and calls for ongoing “engagement with and improvement of” relations with “persons of all racial and cultural backgrounds.” However, “we will not embrace any theory, including Critical Race Theory or any theory of racial supremacy, that is inconsistent with our understanding of Scripture,” the resolution states. Messengers also approved a $37 million Cooperative Program budget, which is $500,000 below the current year’s budget, and will continue to be divided 50/50 between the Southern Baptist and Alabama Baptist missions and ministries. Special offering goals totaling $23 million also were approved. The missional initiatives presented by Lance are spiritual renewal, making disciples, church health, calling out the called, biblical stewardship, sexual abuse and intercultural relations. Sharing the inspirational Tuesday evening message was Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In other business, new convention officers were elected without opposition. They are president, Buddy Champion, pastor of First Baptist Church Trussville; first vice president, Morgan Bailey, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Ranburne; and second vice president, Jarman Leatherwood, founding pastor of House of Hope and Restoration Church in Huntsville. The 2022 annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15-16 at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

Northwest Baptists welcome 15 new churches By Northwest Baptist Witness Staff GRAND MOUND, Wash. (BP) – Messengers attending the Northwest Baptist Convention’s annual meeting welcomed 15 churches into the three-state network, adopted a $3,980,000 budget for 2022, approved a $150,000 goal for next year’s Northwest Impact Mission Offering and elected new members to the NWBC Executive Board and Northwest Baptist Foundation. Convening Nov. 8-10 in Grand Mound, Wash., the 284 messengers also elected three pastors as officers for the new year: Dan Panter of McKenzie Road Baptist Church, Olympia, Wash., president; Bryan Bernard of Grant Avenue Baptist Church, Corvallis, Ore., first vice president; and Chad Harms of Creekside Bible Church, Wilsonville, Ore., second vice president. In addition to 284 registered messengers, 61 adults registered as visitors participated in the three-day gathering. Together, participants represented 129 of the NWBC’s 500-plus partnering churches. The annual fall gathering, under the theme “Prevail,” was livestreamed for online participants. Gary Irby, NWBC director of church planting, brought the recommendation on behalf of the NWBC’s credential committee that messengers welcome 15 churches into the convention during the meeting’s opening session – 11 from Washington, three from Oregon and one from California. While a handful of the churches welcomed into the convention are older churches wanting to partner with the NWBC, most are newer churches started through NWBC’s church-planting ministry. Irby highlighted the NWBC’s emphasis on starting churches. “(Our) commitment to church planting has never been higher,” he said. “This is not only demonstrated by the large number of new congregations, but by the significant NWBC financial resources being committed to the mission.” Almost 30 churches representing five languages and multiple affinity groups “have begun their church planting journey” in the past year, he added. The $3.98 million spending plan for 2022 is reduced from the 2021 budget of $4,680,000. It reflects a significant reduction in partnership funds from North American Mission Board. In the 2021 budget, NAMB channeled more than $1,131,000 through the NWBC, mostly for assistance to church planters serving in the Northwest and to jointly fund NWBC’s church planting staff. The new budget adopted by NWBC messengers includes $100,000 in NAMB grant monies for approved evangelism projects. Going forward, NAMB will direct its financial support for new churches in the Northwest through a network of individual “sending churches” rather than through the NWBC’s business office. Next year’s budget anticipates $2,900,000 in Cooperative Program gifts from Northwest Baptist churches. Eighty percent of the Cooperative Gifts from NWBC churches will support mission efforts across Oregon, Washington and northern Idaho; 20 percent of those gifts will be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention for disbursement to the SBC’s global ministries. Besides the NAMB evangelism grants, other revenue sources in the new budget include $120,000 from the Northwest Impact Missions Offering, more than $46,000 in restricted funds and more than $363,000 from other sources such as endowment earnings, investments and fees. Another $450,000 from general fund reserves is included in anticipated revenues to balance the budget. The NWBC started intentionally building the reserves in recent years, anticipating the reductions in national partnership funds, according to Pamela Brock, NWBC business manager. Messengers adopted one resolution affirming obedience to the Great Commission as essential for all believers, churches and ministries. It also emphasized the important roles “youth and collegiate ministries have in accomplishing the Great Commission in the next generations.” Next year’s NWBC annual meeting is Nov. 14-16 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Wash.

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