Missouri Baptists elect first Black president
By Ben Hawkins/The Pathway
ST. CHARLES, Mo. (BP) – During their 186th annual meeting Oct. 26-27, messengers of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) elected their first ever Black president and approved amendments to Southwest Baptist University’s governing documents.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 842 messengers and 172 visitors from 340 churches gathered at the St. Charles Convention Center. By contrast, the 2019 annual meeting in Branson included 1,277 messengers and 262 visitors from 499 churches.
Amid a standing ovation from messengers, Jon Nelson was elected president. He is an MBC church planter and pastor of SOMA Community Church, located near the campus of the historically Black Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Immediately following the election, Nelson tearfully expressed gratitude to MBC messengers for the opportunity to serve them.
For the past two years, Nelson has served as the MBC’s first vice president. He also serves as chairman for a racial reconciliation task force that was appointed at the MBC Executive Board meeting in March. He will preside over next year’s annual meeting, which will convene Oct. 25-26, 2021, at the Branson Convention Center.
Other new officers elected by MBC messengers include: First Vice President Chris Williams, pastor, Fellowship Church, Greenwood/Raymore; Second Vice President Lane Harrison, lead pastor, Life Point Church, Ozark; and Recording Secretary Jason Marlin, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Kirksville.
Messengers also approved amended articles of incorporation and received amended bylaws from Southwest Baptist University. These approved amendments, which include the affirmation of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as the university’s statement of faith, bring SBU’s governing documents into line with the MBC’s revised governing documents, which messengers approved during their annual meeting in 2017. This also completes the process begun in 2014 of updating the governing documents of the MBC and all of its entities.
2021 budget, offering goals approved
During their business session, messengers approved the MBC’s 2021 spending plan, which is based on a $15 million CP budget. This budget sets aside 5 percent of the total CP giving for “shared expenses,” which are allocated for annuity protections and The Pathway.
From the remaining funds, 35 percent is allocated for Missouri Baptist missions and ministries. Additionally, according to the CP budget, 22 percent is allocated for Missouri Baptist entities, including the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, The Baptist Home, the Missouri Baptist Foundation, Southwest Baptist University, Hannibal-LaGrange University and Missouri Baptist University. Finally, 38 percent of these CP funds are forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention to support its ministries.
Missouri Baptists also approved four resolutions, which called for the abolition of abortion; rejected the “use of any and all products” derived from the fetal tissue of aborted babies; and, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, called upon elected officials to restore and protect the religious liberty rights of residents at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Arkansas Baptists Executive Board meets in lieu of convention
By Sarah Vaughn/Arkansas Baptist News
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP) – On Oct. 20, at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) building, the 167th annual meeting was convened as a special session in accordance with the Articles of Incorporation. The Executive Board, in accordance with the convention bylaws, conducted the required business of the convention in order to carry ministry forward into 2021. Executive Board President Doug Falknor, pastor of First Baptist Church in Fayetteville, presided over the meeting, which was livestreamed.
The Executive Board unanimously approved a flat Cooperative Program budget of $21 million for 2021. The Board also approved the 2021 ABSC team goals and Convention Nominating Committee report.
The Convention officers each serving their first year were re-elected for the upcoming year. President Manley Beasley Jr., senior pastor, Hot Springs Baptist Church; First Vice President Ken Shaddox, senior pastor, Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock; and Second Vice President Jamar Andrews, lead pastor, Word Baptist Church, Jonesboro, will each serve a second term.