SBTC meeting highlights prayer, Holy Spirit
By Jane Rodgers/Southern Baptist TEXAN
AUSTIN, Texas (BP) – The 23rd annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, held Nov. 9-10 at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin with the theme “Together for the Unfinished Task,” focused on prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit in tumultuous times.
Kie Bowman, SBTC president and Hyde Park pastor, gaveled the meeting to order Monday evening. Danny Forshee, pastor of Austin’s Great Hills Baptist Church and chair of the SBTC Executive Committee, introduced the business portion, including the Vision 2021 plan for restructuring convention staff. Forshee called on SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards to elaborate.
Prompted by the pandemic, the “readjustment” of SBTC ministries in Vision 2021 was to better serve the convention’s churches, Richards said, adding that the process involved input from staff and surveys of churches. He said research revealed the need for increased support in such areas as church health and leadership, digital communications, engaging young pastors and providing resources.
“Everything was on the table,” Richards said, even the idea of leveraging the SBTC’s building and combining major events like the Equip and Empower conferences.
Not subject to change, however, was the convention’s commitment to biblical inerrancy as confirmed by confessional agreement among SBTC churches with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
“One constant was to keep the DNA of the SBTC the same,” said Richards, who also announced his 2021 retirement  at the meeting.
Some 415 messengers and 213 guests attended the annual meeting.
Messengers approved a 2021 budget of $26,159,798, a 9.42 percent decrease from last year. The new budget continues the SBTC’s practice of forwarding 55 percent of undesignated Cooperative Program receipts to the national SBC while retaining 45 percent for ministry in Texas.
Messengers also passed resolutions expressing appreciation to Hyde Park Baptist, affirming life, confirming the importance of adherence to civil authority, affirming the biblical structure of the family, endorsing religious liberty and worship as essential, advocating civility in social media and encouraging racial harmony.
Bowman was reelected president by acclamation. Other 2021 officers elected by acclamation were Vice President Richard S. Lewis Jr., pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Copperas Cove, and Secretary Frances Garcia of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Odessa.
In other business, a motion made by Thomas McCarty of Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, that the convention adopt the name Great Commission Baptists was referred to the SBTC Executive Board.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 8-9 at Flint Baptist Church, south of Tyler.
Louisiana Baptists show resolve in face of adversity
By Brian Blackwell/Baptist Message
PINEVILLE, La. (BP) – Amid a year of COVID-19, multiple hurricanes and political turmoil, hope and resolve were consistent themes shared at the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Louisiana Baptist Executive Director Steve Horn praised messengers to the 2020 LBC Annual meeting of churches for their resiliency amid a difficult year.
“COVID, political division exacerbated by racial division, devastating hurricanes and the accompanying economic disruptions have tested us,” Horn said during his executive director’s report Nov. 10. “As one social media meme put it, ‘In Louisiana, we are tough, but we are tired.’
“But, if 2020 has proven anything, this year has proven that we, in Louisiana, are a resilient bunch. And, I am thankful.”
Horn said Louisiana Baptists were faithful in giving, gathering and sharing the Gospel despite COVID-19 and multiple hurricanes.
Though most events sponsored by the state missions services team were canceled during the summer, Horn said efforts to share the Gospel did not wane.
“As one of our staff members likes to say ‘we may have been confined, but we were not contained,’” Horn said. “You cannot quarantine Good News.”
Messengers approved the Cooperative Program allocation budget and amendments to the LBC Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.
The 2021 financial plan is identical to the one approved for 2020 by messengers in 2019 and is based on expected contributions of $18,653,700, following eight consecutive years of annual decreases. The allocation formula for distributing Cooperative Program gifts also remains unchanged with 63.26 percent dedicated to support ministries in the state and 36.74 percent forwarded to fund national entities.
Cooperative Program projections typically are based on actual receipts from August of the previous year through July of the current one. This year, the Business and Finance Committee of the Executive Board chose to recommend suspending the usual conservative budget process due to receipt anomalies resulting from COVID-19 restrictions and interruptions to church operations caused by hurricanes, storms and tornadoes.
The amendments to the convention’s governing documents essentially added provisions for operating the convention during emergencies.
David Cranford, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Ponchatoula, was reelected president. David Jeffreys, associate pastor of Highland Baptist Church in New Iberia, was elected first vice president; and William Smith, pastor of Lakeshore Baptist Church in Monroe, was elected second vice president. All three were elected by acclamation.
The final messenger count was 386 for the abbreviated meeting. The 2021 Annual Meeting is scheduled for Nov. 16 at North Monroe Baptist Church in Monroe.