Florida Baptists continue forwarding 51%, approve name change for The Baptist College Of Florida
By Margaret Colson/Florida Baptist Convention
LUTZ, Fla. (BP) – With the theme, “Manifest: Kingdom Clarity Amidst Cultural Chaos,” Florida Baptists gathered for the 161st annual meeting at Idlewild Baptist Church near Tampa to celebrate God’s work throughout the Sunshine State.
In his final sermon as Florida Baptist State Convention president, Paul Purvis presented a “one-point challenge” to his fellow Florida Baptists: “Determine to live your life surrendered to the rule of the King right where you are every day.”
Purvis, pastor of Mission Hill Church in Temple Terrace, focused on Acts 28:17-31, explaining that even as Paul manifested God’s kingdom, tracing how the entire Bible points to Jesus as the Messiah, believers today are God’s messengers. “God uses us to get His message out. He always has.”
The meeting drew 1,484 in attendance, including 955 messengers, representing 491 churches, along with 529 guests.
Budget adoption/name change for The Baptist College of Florida
Messengers approved a 2024 Cooperative Program goal of $29.5 million to be distributed 51 percent to Southern Baptist Convention causes and 49 percent 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 2024 budget goal is unchanged from the 2023 budget goal.
A recommendation to change the name of The Baptist College of Florida to Baptist University of Florida was approved by messengers. Approval of this recommendation required two votes in subsequent years, and this year’s vote was the second of the two votes.
Four Florida Baptist leaders were elected to serve as 2023-24 officers of the Florida Baptist State Convention. Mike Orr, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Chipley, was elected to serve his first term as FBSC president. David Perez, pastor of Iglesia Casa de Bendicion in St. Cloud, was elected to his first term as FBSC first vice president. Layperson Jeffery Crick, a family physician at Mayo Clinic and member of Fruit Cove Baptist Church in St. Johns, was elected to serve in his first term as FBSC second vice president. Janey Frost, who serves at The Point Church in Pensacola, was elected to a second term as FBSC recording secretary.
Messengers also gave final approval to a recommendation to codify the process used with the cancellation of the 2020 annual meeting during the COVID pandemic if a catastrophic event or other widespread emergency prevents the annual meeting of the FBSC from occurring in person in the future. Approval of this recommendation required two votes in subsequent years, and this year’s vote was the second of the two votes.
A recommendation to change the name of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, Inc. to One More Child was approved by messengers. This name change requires two votes in subsequent years, and this year’s vote was the first of the two votes.
Messengers approved a revised annual meeting schedule for 2024–2026. For those three years, the annual meeting will be held at First Baptist Church, Orlando.
Messengers also approved resolutions of appreciation for Craig Culbreth, who retired March 31, 2023, after serving the Florida Baptist Convention in various roles since 1998; and Gary Townsend, who retired June 30, 2023, after serving the Convention in numerous roles since 2004.
In other business messengers approved a report on new Florida Baptist churches and affiliations as well as recommendations to amend the FBSC Constitution to remove references to the Florida Baptist Retirement Center, Inc., and various FBSC Bylaw revisions.
The 2024 FBSC annual meeting is set for Nov. 11-12 at First Baptist Church Orlando.
For more information from the Florida Baptist meeting, visit flbaptist.org.
Georgia Baptists pass increased budget, call out the called
Compiled from Christian Index reports
SNELLVILLE, Ga. (BP) – More than 1,000 Georgia Baptists gathered at the Church on Main in Snellville for the Georgia Baptist Convention’s annual meeting Nov. 13-14 under the theme “Calling Out the Called.”
Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow, pastor of Flat Creek Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga., selected the theme in hopes of helping churches identify the next generation of church leaders whom God is calling to share the Gospel in the state, nation and world.
“Whether they would be deacons, whether they would be Sunday school teachers, whether they would be missionaries, whether they would be pastors, I believe they’re in our pews right now,” Saefkow told the Christian Index prior to the meeting.
To help prepare those church leaders, Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. committed an additional $150,000 for each of the state’s three Baptist colleges — Brewton-Parker College, Shorter University and Truett McConnell University — for scholarships for students who have been called to ministry and an additional $150,000 for scholarships for students preparing for ministry at any of the six Southern Baptist seminaries across the nation.
Saefkow will serve a second one-year term as president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, the state’s largest religious group with some 1.4 million members. Messengers also elected Stephen Dervan, pastor of Oak Hill Church in Williamson, as first vice president and Javier Lopez, Hispanic pastor at First Baptist Church in Douglasville, as second vice president.
Messengers voted to change the Georgia Baptist Convention’s governing documents before the election, a move that reduced the number of vice presidents from four to two. (See related story.)
The annual budget affirmed by messengers totaled $60,908,500. Of that, more than half — $33,344,000 — will be from the Cooperative Program.
That total represents a projected 4.2 percent increase in Cooperative Program giving, a needed shot in the arm for what been described as the greatest evangelistic initiative of the modern church age.
Of the CP giving total, $13.3 million (40 percent) will be forwarded to national Southern Baptist missions and ministry. This percentage is unchanged from previous years.
“Giving through the Cooperative Program has been trending down in Georgia over the past three decades, so this projected increase in funding is an encouraging sign that the tide is turning,” said David Melber, chief operating officer for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. “The 4.2% is the largest projected increase in the Georgia budget in over 25 years.”
The overall total also includes financial gifts from Georgia churches to the Lottie Moon offering for international missions and the Annie Armstrong offering for North American missions. Those special offerings are expected to generate more than $16.8 million and nearly $9.5 million, respectively.
For more information about the Georgia Baptist meeting, visit christianindex.org.