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STATE MEETINGS: New Mexico elects executive director; New England prepares for revitalization

New Mexico Baptists elect executive director, pass reduced budget

By Daniel Porter

ALBUQUERQUE (BP) – During an abbreviated one-day annual meeting Oct. 20, the Baptist Convention of New Mexico messengers elected a new executive director and a new slate of convention officers, passed a reduced budget, and approved three resolutions.

John Hinze (right), chairman of the BCNM’s executive director search committee, introduces Steve Ballew as the committee’s candidate for the position. A few moments later, Ballew was unanimously elected in a voice vote.

Two hundred and forty-eight messengers and 44 guests from 89 of the BCNM’s 342 cooperating churches attended the Oct. 20 meeting hosted by Hoffmantown Church. The 2020 theme was “Faith Over Fear.” Social distancing, masks, hand sanitizer and temperature checks allowed the meeting to align with New Mexico Public Health Order guidelines. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s annual meeting drew six more messengers than the 2019 meeting.

Following the recommendation of the BCNM Executive Director Search Team, messengers unanimously elected Steve Ballew as the convention’s next executive director. Ballew currently pastors Emanuel Baptist Church in Farmington, N.M. Ballew will begin his role on Jan. 1, 2021. The BCNM’s outgoing executive director, Joseph Bunce, will assist Ballew during a planned transitional overlap before retiring on Feb. 1, 2021.

Messengers also elected a new slate of officers: President Ronny Cooksey, pastor of Sandia Baptist Church, Albuquerque; First Vice President Matt Henslee, pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church; Second Vice President Monty Mullenix, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bloomfield.

Messengers approved a 2021 budget of $3,716,783, a decrease of 18.58 percent over the 2020 budget. BCNM officials said the budget decrease reflects income changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the cessation of funds provided by the North American Mission Board and Lifeway Christian Resources.

The convention will forward 29 percent of contributions to national Cooperative Program causes (notwithstanding $153,000 in CP exempt items). The BCNM’s 71-29 split is unchanged from the 2020 budget.

Messengers approved three resolutions: encouraging New Mexico Baptists to utilize their right to vote; thanking Hoffmantown Church for hosting the annual meeting; and expressing gratitude for Joseph and Sharon Bunce’s 15 years of service to the BCNM.

Hayden Smith, long-time pastor of First Baptist Church in Carrizozo, delivered the convention’s annual sermon, preaching from 1 Kings 13. Joseph Bunce delivered his final executive director’s address as he prepares to retire in February 2021.

Outgoing BCNM President Jared Bridge delivered the president’s address, preaching from John 16:25-33 and focusing on the convention’s theme “Faith over Fear.”

Mike Napier, pastor of First Baptist Church, Aztec, shared a testimony regarding his church’s ongoing growth. Since Napier became the church’s pastor two years ago, First Baptist has baptized 136 people, with more baptism scheduled through the end of this year. The church has also seen significant attendance growth in Sunday school and worship services. Napier concluded his testimony by sharing the reasons for First Baptist’s growth, saying, “It is so simple. It’s prayer and evangelism. That’s all that it is. All that it is is the power of the Holy Spirit moving in our midst.”

The 2021 BCNM annual meeting is scheduled for Oct. 19-20, 2021, at First Baptist Church in Roswell.

New England Baptists pray, plan for revitalization

By Kimber Huff

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. (BP) – In the opening remarks of the Baptist Convention of New England’s 38th annual meeting, executive director Terry Dorsett shared the story of a church that has affiliated with the BCNE from another denomination this year and is experiencing a time of revitalization.

The Baptist Convention of New England held its 2020 annual meeting virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pastor told me recently that they have felt so encouraged in the last six months – in the middle of a pandemic, they have felt encouraged! – because of the help they have received from the Baptist Convention of New England,” Dorsett said.

The Nov. 5 online meeting, which was livestreamed on YouTube, included worship, testimonies and reports, as New England Baptists celebrated what God is doing in the region and focused on the theme of “Church Revitalization: Helping Churches Thrive.”

After the celebratory reports concluded, church representatives were invited to join a business meeting via Zoom.

Representatives approved a 2021 budget of just under $2.5 million, as well as the recommendation that Cooperative Program giving be frozen at the 2015 levels until the negative financial effects of the pandemic have passed.

The following officers were elected for the coming year: President Dong Rondina, pastor of Word of God Christian Fellowship in Framingham, Mass.; and Vice President Stephen Woodard, pastor of Nashua Baptist Church in Nashua, N.H.

Messengers passed “A Resolution on the Importance of Cooperative Missions.” Citing the denomination’s history of joint efforts to fulfill the Great Commission, the resolution states that this mission “is best accomplished when national SBC entities, churches, associations and state/regional conventions work cooperatively.”

Gary Moritz, BCNE director of revitalization and lead pastor of City United Church in Lunenburg, Mass., preached the annual sermon, “Trading the Moments to Embrace the Mission.” Using the text of Acts 4, Moritz shared seven traits of a revitalized church and called on New England Baptists to demonstrate revitalized prayer.

“If we’re going to see churches revitalized in New England, we need to have powerful prayer meetings,” Moritz said. “We need to stand together and raise our voices to the Almighty Living God and ask Him to move in our churches and in our lives.”

Staff members shared digital messages reporting baptisms, exciting ministry opportunities during the pandemic and new plans for church planting and revitalization.

Pastor Chris Goeppner accepted the Raymond C. Allen Award for Excellence in Evangelism and Missions on behalf of Riverbank Church in White River Junction, Vt., and Claremont, N.H. The church’s two campuses reported 341 salvations and 121 baptisms in 2019.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 5-6, 2021, at South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham, Mass. Adam Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, will deliver the annual sermon, and South Shore Baptist’s worship team will lead worship.

Daniel Porter is a staff writer for the Baptist New Mexican. Kimber Huff is the communications coordinator at the Baptist Convention of New England.

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