Michigan celebrates diversity, increases CP percentage
By Karen L. Willoughby
HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (BP) – Messengers to the 65th annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan voted to increase their Cooperative Program giving by 2.5 percentage points in 2023, to 35 percent, with a desire to raise it to 50 percent by 2025.
The 2022 BSCM annual meeting took place Nov. 4 at Chapel Pointe, a church in Hudsonville, a Grand Rapids suburb, with the theme: “Accelerate Gospel Movement.”
Around 150 were present, including 41 guests and 104 messengers from 50 of Michigan’s 306 churches.
“Our annual meeting reflected a great sense of unity and a focused mission,” Executive Director Tim Patterson told Baptist Press. “It was more of an extended worship experience than a business meeting.”
Discussions among attendees followed talks on multiplying leaders and on the state’s diversity of people, languages and cultures, which came after Wayne Parker, Send Detroit Missionary spoke, and Maki Umakoshi of Hikari City Church in Plymouth was introduced as Michigan’s first Japanese church planter.
Prayer for Umakoshi, his family and the Japanese church plant were spoken in Tagalog, national language of the Philippines, and in Arabic.
“This year, 12 new churches launched, and one new church affiliated with us for a total of 13 new congregations in Michigan,” reported State Director of Missions Tony Lynn. “Diversity rose high this year among our newest churches. We added two excellent consultants to strengthen our multiplying ministry among those who speak Spanish and Arabic.
“Spanish Consultant Pastor Jorge Altieri offered cohorts in evangelism and discipleship this year and he will offer another cohort early in 2023 for on the topic of leadership,” Lynn continued. “We welcomed Pastor Amgad Beshai of Evangel Baptist Church in Troy as an Arabic consultant. His origin from Egypt and his interaction with Arabic speaking people from around the world has tremendously increased the effectiveness of our team. The value added by these two men cannot be overstated. We are grateful for their generous service.”
Messengers approved a $2,380,203 budget for 2023, up from $2,279,500 in 2021, a $100,703 increase. This includes an anticipated $1,335,600 from churches’ Cooperative Program giving, up $89,807 from their $1,245,793 giving in 2021. The total budget also includes up to $126,808 from the North American Mission Board reimbursements for evangelism and church planting, and $358,215 from the state convention’s Bambi Lake Retreat Center.
“The Cooperative Program has been like a great river, flowing into the state of Michigan to help quench their thirst for the Gospel,” Patterson told Baptist Press. “Because of the generosity of millions of Southern Baptists, Michigan has the opportunity to share Jesus to many lost souls thirsty for water of life. The Cooperative Program also lets the churches of Michigan do the same all around the world.”
Newly elected convention officers include: President Ed Emmerling, pastor of Westside Church in Flushing; First Vice President Ray Ruffin, pastor of New Found Hope Community Church in Redford; Second Vice President Josh Tovey, pastor of Redemption Church in Grandville; Recording Secretary Jerome Taylor, pastor of Eastgate Church in Burton; and Assistant Recording Secretary Michele White, member at Middlebelt Church in Inkster.
In his report, Send Detroit Missionary Wayne Parker told messengers, “At our 2014 state convention meeting, I asked you to join us in praying to the Lord of the harvest for the laborers He would send into the harvest. Since that time, we have witnessed His faithfulness in more than 50 new churches planted.”
In the closing words of his report, Executive Director Tim Patterson wrote, “Every pastor is called to lead and feed his flock. It is a high and holy calling but at times it can be difficult and solitary.
“It is imperative that our leaders have a strong sense of a singular call to lead well but it is almost impossible for anyone to lead alone! We need each other. That is why the Baptist State Convention of Michigan is focusing to Accelerate Gospel Movement in every aspect of what is done in ministry and seeking to ensure every church and their leaders have the resources and ability to do the same.”
Michigan’s next annual meeting is set for Nov. 3, 2023, at Mile City Church in Plymouth.
West Virginia Baptists rally around three-year cooperative vision
By Cleve Persinger and Karen L. Willoughby
PRINCETON, W.Va. (BP) – Messengers to the 52nd annual meeting of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists (WVCSB) unanimously approved a new sexual abuse policy, a culmination of a year-long process to examine its policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct requested by messengers at the 2021 annual meeting.
“This policy is a work of love, mercy, and compassion,” said Joey Giles, chair of the WVCSB Sexual Abuse Task Force and pastor of Berkeley Baptist Church in Berkeley Springs. While there have been no reports of sexual abuse in any WVCSB churches to date, Giles said, West Virginia Southern Baptists want to be proactive rather than reactive.
“We do not tolerate sexual abuse and we want to demonstrate to victims, perpetrators, and the general public that we are committed to stomping out this plague in our churches and in society,” Giles said.
At least 50 guests and 196 messengers from 89 of West Virginia’s 210 churches – with each association represented – attended the Nov. 3-4 gathering at Immanuel Baptist Church in Princeton, marking the highest messenger registration in 16 years.
The annual meeting and pastors’ conference shared the theme, “In + Through,” a new three-year vision that emphasizes the WVCSB mission of “strengthening and sending churches to make Jesus known in and through West Virginia.”
Announcing the three-year vision, Executive Director Eric Ramsey told messengers the purpose is “to increase cooperation among our churches, and attempt great things for God as we transition from a mission field to a family on mission.
“Everything we do will be evaluated through the lens of making Jesus known in and through West Virginia while building cooperation and family,” Ramsey added.
IMB President Paul Chitwood affirmed WVCSB’s Great Commission-centered vision. “Urgency should not be lost on the church today,” he said. “Until the bride of Christ is ready, the work of Southern Baptists in and through West Virginia is not completed.”
West Virginia recently added 150 new Disaster Relief volunteers, making it “one of the most active Disaster Relief forces in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Ramsey said in his report to messengers. State DR teams deployed four times – more than 2,000 man-hours total – in West Virginia, to flooding in eastern Kentucky and to Hurricane Ian in Florida.
“For the first time in WVCSB history we are cooperatively being the missionary where there is no missionary in and through Trujillo, Peru,” Ramsey added.
An amendment to the state convention’s constitution and bylaws outlining the process for the search and selection of an executive director was approved. A resolution was adopted to thank the annual meeting host, Immanuel Baptist Church in Princeton.
Messengers approved a 2023 budget totaling $1,454,672, representing a decrease of 9 percent from the 2022 budget. The new budget allocates 42 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program, up from 41.5 percent for the last three years. Anticipated funding sources include $110,000 from NAMB.
“While the Cooperative Program is a powerful tool for financing global missions and leadership development for gospel advancement,” Ramsey said, “it also provides a tangible, biblical means for every WVCSB church member to selflessly, sacrificially and immediately engage in making Jesus known in and through West Virginia.”
Elected officers: President Aaron Sligar, pastor of Living River Chapel in Sutton; First Vice President Jason Spade, pastor of First Baptist Princeton in Princeton; Second Vice President Ryan Navy, pastor of River Valley Church in Huntington; and recording secretary Andrew Gordon, associate pastor of Winfield Baptist Church in Winfield.
“It was deeply encouraging to see our West Virginia pastors and church leaders rally around ‘making Jesus known in and through West Virginia,’” Ramsey said. “The whole room filled with great satisfaction as we celebrated the deployment of our West Virginia Southern Baptist international mission team’s vision trip to Peru, realizing together that this truly was the transition from being a mission field to becoming a family on mission.
“While we conducted much-needed business,” the executive director added, “the room was full of laughter, camaraderie, mutual respect, and a passion-filled commitment to our gospel mission.”
The next annual meeting will be Nov. 2-3, 2023, at Chief Logan State Park Lodge in Logan, W. Va.