Historic election of officers, missionary commissioning highlight Arizona meeting
By Elizabeth Young/Arizona Southern Baptists
AVONDALE, Ariz. (BP) – Arizona Southern Baptists adopted an amended report from the Sexual Abuse Response Team, revisited last year’s state convention name change to Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network, commissioned three missionaries from Arizona and voted to increase Cooperative Program giving to Southern Baptist Convention causes during their 94th annual meeting.
“Next” was the theme of the meeting – a single afternoon worship and business session – held at Avondale Baptist Church Nov. 11. It was attended by 244 messengers and 46 registered guests representing 131 churches.
Messengers made history with the election of officers, selecting the first Hispanic president and first Black first vice president.
Elected by acclamation were President Fernando Amaro, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Resurrección in Scottsdale and recently retired North American Mission Board church planting strategist; First Vice President Shawn Buckhanan, pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Sierra Vista, who had previously served one term as second vice president; and Second Vice President Paul Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church in Chandler and professor at Gateway Seminary – Arizona Campus.
Sexual Abuse Task Force report
Ashley Evans, senior pastor of 22nd Street Baptist Church in Tucson and chairman of the state’s Sexual Abuse Response Team, presented the team’s report, which included three observations and two recommendations. The recommendations proposed a Churches that Care initiative with 12 standards for churches.
After more than 50 minutes of discussion, with a show of lifted ballots, messengers approved a substitute motion by Andrew Marquez, pastor of North Swan Baptist Church in Tucson, to remove the recommendations from the report and refer them to the Executive Team, with no action taken to be taken until the 2023 annual meeting. Messengers then voted to receive the amended report.
“The Sexual Abuse Response Team gave you excellent information to work with,” Marslender said. “Do everything that you can to make sure that the children and families who come to your church are safe.”
After the meeting, David Johnson, Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network executive director, said the 12 standards proposed by the Sexual Abuse Response Team will still be offered as a resource of “recommended practices” for churches to use as they choose.
The vote to change the name of the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network to “Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists” was the third time in three years that messengers considered the “doing business as” name of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention.
The new name is a “doing business as” name change and will not change the constitution or corporate filings.
Messengers adopted a 2023 budget that increases Arizona Southern Baptists’ giving to the Southern Baptist Convention through the Cooperative Program for the ninth consecutive year, reaching a 40-60 split between the SBC and Arizona, respectively.
Arizona Southern Baptists’ Centennial Vision goal is to give 50 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to SBC national and international missions and ministries outside the state by 2028. With a 1 percentage point increase to the SBC in 2023, the total rise in giving to the SBC since the launch of the Centennial Vision is 14 percentage points.
The $4,156,670 operating budget for 2023 includes $3,647,000 in anticipated Cooperative Program giving from churches, an increase of $2,787 from 2022. The operating budget also includes an additional $128,000 in designated giving from churches. The operating budget is a $114,902, or 2.8 percent, increase from the 2022 budget.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 3 at First Baptist Church in Chandler in conjunction with two IMB events. IMB will hold a Reaching the Nations Summit for lead pastors, missions pastors and church leaders on Nov. 2, and REV7:9 for 18- to 25-year-olds will follow on Nov. 4.
Florida Baptists approve budget, sexual abuse committee report
By Margaret Colson/Florida Baptist Convention
PENSACOLA (BP) – Florida Baptists celebrated churches working together to expand God’s kingdom during the 2022 Florida Baptist State Convention held Nov. 14-15 at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola.
The theme, “For the Kingdom,” and Scripture found in Matthew 6:33 were the focus of the President’s Message given by Paul Purvis, lead pastor of Mission Hill Church in Temple Terrace.
When God’s kingdom comes, Purvis said, it will come in truth, grace, power and glory. Purvis urged Florida Baptists to “make sure our vision is aligned with God’s vision.
“We must maintain our focus; we must keep the main thing the main thing. We must stay on mission. As individuals, as churches, as a convention, we must start living and leading for the kingdom.”
Florida Baptists’ 160th annual meeting drew 1,225 in attendance, including 822 messengers representing 412 churches, along with 403 guests.
Special committee report
Messengers adopted a report brought by a special committee tasked with examining policies and procedures governing sexual abuse allegation reporting, survivor care and prevention within the FBSC. The nine-person committee, chaired by JJ Johnson, pastor of South Tampa Fellowship, selected Telios Law, PLLC, based in Monument, Colorado, to conduct an independent review of such policies and procedures. Five cooperating ministries were included in the review: Florida Baptist State Board of Missions, Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center, The Baptist College of Florida, and Florida Baptist Financial Services.
The committee reported that Telios Law noted there were no overwhelming flaws in the policies and procedures of the state’s cooperating ministries. The committee’s report then highlighted seven “areas of critical importance moving forward” and requested that the cooperating ministries provide updates at the 2023 FBSC annual meeting on the progress made in addressing these “opportunities for improvement.”
Messengers approved a 2023 Cooperative Program goal of $29.5 million to be distributed 51 percent to Southern Baptist Convention causes and 49 perent to Florida Baptist Convention causes. The 51/49 split is the same distribution Florida Baptists have approved since 2016, the first budget recommendation after Tommy Green became executive director-treasurer in 2015. The approved 2023 budget is a $350,000 increase over the 2022 goal of $29.15 million.
Four 2022-23 FBSC officers were elected by messengers, including three officers who will serve second terms. Purvis was reelected by acclimation to serve as FBSC president. Dwight Woods, senior pastor of Family of God Baptist Church in Panama City, was reelected by acclimation to a second term as first vice president. Healthcare professional John Bozard, a member of First Orlando, was reelected by acclimation to his second term as second vice president. Rounding out the slate of officers to be elected to serve Florida Baptists in 2022-23 was Janey Frost, minister of music and women at West Pensacola Baptist Church, elected by a ballot vote to serve as FBSC recording secretary
RISE for Life
In partnership with One More Child, Florida Baptists announced the launch of the RISE for Life initiative, which outlines the group’s mission through the acronym RISE:
- Reach every child
- Involve every church
- Strengthen every community
- Empower every family.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the partnership calls on every Florida Baptist church to stand in the gap for the most vulnerable in society by partnering with pregnancy care centers, mentoring single mothers, becoming involved in foster care ministry, conducting resource drives to meet the practical needs of mothers and their children and taking other actions.
The 2023 FBSC annual meeting is set for Nov. 13-14 at Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa.