Georgia Baptists move forward with sexual abuse hotline, other initiatives
By Christian Index Staff
AUGUSTA, Ga. (BP) – Georgia Baptists met Nov. 14-15 under the theme “Forward. We’re not done yet.” The meeting was attended by around 1,250 people, 978 of which were messengers.
Messengers heard plans for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board to set up a telephone hotline by early next year for people to report cases of sexual abuse.
That was one of several steps developed by a Special Committee on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse, a six-member panel that has been meeting for the past year to find ways to stop sexual abuse.
The Georgia Baptist Executive Committee approved the steps, and the Mission Board has already begun implementing them.
“It became clear to the committee that the initial work to be done should concentrate on education and training,” said Special Committee Chairman Micah Hamrick, administrative pastor at First Baptist Church in Villa Rica and retired deputy director of the Georgia Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. “It was determined that the main goal and objective was to provide resources to reduce opportunities for sexual abuse in our churches and to support survivors of such abuse.”
Messengers also approved a $41.2 million Cooperative Program budget as presented by the Mission Board’s chief financial officer, David Melber. This is unchanged from last year. The budget includes nearly $10 million for colleges and seminaries, including $3.2 million for Georgia’s Brewton-Parker College, Shorter University and Truett McConnell University. More than $6.1 million will be used for community and compassion ministries. And $3.7 million will be used for Baptist Collegiate Ministries.
Messengers came together at Warren Baptist Church in Augusta on Sunday for the three-day gathering that included a send-off for the newest crop of international missionaries, a pastor’s preaching conference, and a general business meeting at which the Cooperative Program budget was presented.
For the Georgia Baptist causes, Melber said the budget divvies $19.2 million in Cooperative Program funding among more than 100 line items, including more than $4.2 million for church strengthening, $2 million for pastor wellness, $1 million for Woman’s Missionary Union initiatives, $360,000 for Disaster Relief, $430,000 for Baptist Mobile Health, and $335,000 for church planting.
Another $12.8 million in Cooperative Program will be passed on to the Southern Baptist Convention to help fund national and international ministries. This allocation was unchanged from last year.
Next year’s meeting will be at Church on Main in Snellville, Ga., Nov. 13-14.
NWBC messengers set 2023 ministry agenda
By Cameron Crabtree/Northwest Baptist Witness
CENTRALIA, Wash. (BP) – Messengers attending the Northwest Baptist Convention’s 75th annual meeting welcomed 14 churches into the three-state network, adopted a $3,900,000 budget for 2023, approved a $150,000 goal for next year’s Northwest Impact Mission Offering and adopted revisions to the NWBC constitution and bylaws.
Convening Nov. 14-16 at the Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia, Wash., 297 registered messengers also re-elected its current slate of officers to additional one-year terms: Dan Panter of McKenzie Road Baptist Church, Olympia, Wash., president; Bryan Bernard of Redemption Church, Corvallis, Ore., first vice president; and Chad Harms of Creekside Bible Church, second vice president.
The president chairs the NWBC Executive Board and serves alongside fellow officers on the board’s executive committee.
In addition to registered messengers – the term used for those eligible to vote on convention business items by virtue of being elected by NWBC churches – 114 adults registered as visitors participated in the three-day gathering. Together, participants represented 168 of the NWBC’s 500-plus partnering churches across Washington, Oregon and north Idaho.
Speaking to this year’s meeting theme “Promise,” Panter preached from 2 Peter 1:3-4 to emphasize the importance of remembering God as the ultimate promise keeper.
“He is always ever faithful,” Panter said. “What we have to look forward to in the future helps us be faithful in the present. By God’s power, he makes our promises alive. Every beat of our heart, every way we serve God is fulfilling his promises in ongoing ways in and through our lives.”
The $3.9 million total spending plan for next year is down slightly from the 2022 budget of $3,980,000. It reflects a $110,000 reduction in Cooperative Program gifts anticipated from NWBC churches, but an addition of $200,000 in anticipated Missions Northwest funding. Missions Northwest is a new revenue stream because of churches specifying their missions giving for work in the Northwest.
The “shared ministries” portion of the 2023 budget anticipates $2,790,000 in Cooperative Program gifts from Northwest Baptist churches. Twenty percent of that amount – about $566,000 – will be forwarded the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee for disbursement to SBC global mission and education causes in North America and around the world. An additional $100,000 in the budget is designated for Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention to support work of the school’s Pacific Northwest Campus.
Funding support from the North American Mission Board next year is $100,000. That amount is for grants the NWBC requests for evangelism projects at local Northwest Baptist churches. The grants are subject to NAMB approval based on criteria established by the two entities.
The 2023 budget includes $109,000 from General Fund reserves to balance the budget. The current budget included $450,000 of General Fund reserves to balance the budget, but through September the convention had used less than $250,000 from the amount of reserve funds allocated.
Besides the NAMB evangelism grants, Missions Northwest funds and reserves, revenue sources for next year include $150,000 from the Northwest Impact Missions Offering, more than $135,400 in restricted funds and about $415,500 from sources such as endowment earnings, investments and fees.
Next year’s annual meeting is Nov. 13-15 at the same location.
SBCV declares ‘The Lord is with you’
By Proclaimer Staff
ROANOKE, Va. (BP) – The Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia (SBCV) churches had the privilege to give $50,000 in donations to local pregnancy centers. This was one of many highlights during the SBCV Annual Homecoming at First Baptist Church of Roanoke.
“In a post-Roe world, it’s more important than ever for the local church to care for women facing unplanned pregnancies in our communities,” said Ryan Holloway, executive director of Care Net Peninsula. “It’s an honor to partner with the SBCV to build a permanent place to care for local moms in Newport News.”
Care Net Peninsula in Newport News accepted $25,000 that will go to building ultrasound rooms as they move to a larger facility. Also, another $25,000 was given to Warrenton Pregnancy Center in Warrenton for an ultrasound machine. This was made in partnership with Psalm 139 Ministries through the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
The Lord is with you
More than 1,000 messengers and guests attended the three-day SBCV Annual Homecoming on Nov. 13-15, 2022. Almost 1,300 people were in attendance on Sunday and Monday nights.
“The Lord is with you!” was the theme as those in attendance testified that the presence of God was experienced through worship and special times of prayer.
“Our prayer is that we lead from our knees as pastors, church leaders, and state convention,” said Brian Autry, executive director of the SBCV. “We need more than the blessings of God; we need the God who blesses.”
Autry said in his executive report that there will be an emphasis on prayer in 2023. He promoted a pastors’ prayer retreat on Jan. 23-24 as well as vision tours for church planting in Hampton Roads on Feb 6-8 and the metro Richmond area on April 17-19.
“The focus on prayer, praise, and the preaching of God’s Word allowed all of us to focus on the great truth that the Lord is with us,” said Stan Parris, SBCV president. “This brought us one step closer to a much-needed spiritual awakening.”
2022 was a record financial year with $9,825,827 given through the Cooperative Program. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering was $4,059,314, and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering was $1,245,362.
Upon recommendation, messengers approved the proposed Ministry Investment Plan of $10.1 million for the 2023 fiscal year. Of the total adopted Ministry Investment Plan amount, $9.8 million comes from SBC of Virginia churches giving related to Cooperative Program contributions. The adopted plan will be distributed with 51 percent going to national Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program ministries and 49 percent distributed to state level SBC of Virginia Cooperative Program ministries. This is the same percentage of allocation as last year.
Sixteen churches requested affiliation with the SBCV and were approved by the messengers of the Annual Homecoming. This brings the total number of affiliated churches to 824.
Current SBCV officers received unanimous approval by messengers for a second term. Stan Parris, pastor of Franklin Heights Church in Rocky Mount, Va., was named president. Joey Anthony, pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, Va., was named first vice-president. Felix Sermon, pastor of Grace International Christian Church in Springfield, Va., was named as second vice-president. Jason Taylor, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Kents Store, Va., was named secretary.
Read the full story here.