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SBTC affirms Texas Heartbeat Act, condemns sexual violence

By TEXAN Staff

FLINT, Texas (BP) – The 2021 annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention met Nov. 8-9 at Flint Baptist Church, south of Tyler, to celebrate the many “But God” moments (referencing Ephesians 2:4-7) experienced by churches and individuals who have weathered challenging circumstances by the strength of God’s faithfulness over the past couple of years.

Messengers approved a 2022 total budget of $26,555,573, reflecting a 1.51 percent increase from the preceding year. The SBTC will continue its practice of forwarding 55 percent ($14,385,565) of all Cooperative Program funds to the Southern Baptist Convention, while retaining 45 percent for in-state ministries.

The 10 resolutions approved by messengers included ones encouraging the promotion of the Annual Church Profile, affirming the Baptist Faith and Message 2000’s definition of pastor as a position for men, and urging prayer and aid for refugees.

Resolution 8 condemned all forms of sexual violence and called upon church leaders to take proactive measures to prevent sexual violence in their churches and communities and to support victims.

Also approved was a motion by messenger Michael Criner, pastor of Rock Hill Baptist Church in Brownsboro, calling for newly elected SBTC President Todd Kaunitz to form a team to work alongside convention leadership regarding sexual abuse prevention and response. Criner was careful to point out he was not asking for an investigation or formation of a task force, but rather, studying how the convention can “better serve and be steadfast in equipping our churches to righteously” handle any allegation or instance of abuse and prevent “to the best of our ability” any future instances of abuse.

Criner said his desire would be that messengers “speak with a loud and unanimous voice that the Gospel demands we do everything in our power to care for those who have been sexually abused.”

An effort by several messengers to replace Resolution 9 “On the Texas Heartbeat Act” failed after a lengthy and lively discussion.

SBTC messengers also approved resolutions of appreciation for host Flint Baptist Church, outgoing SBTC President Kie Bowman, Executive Director Emeritus Jim Richards and his wife, June.

The 2021 meeting marked the formal passing of the mantle from Richards to Nathan Lorick, who assumed his new role this summer.

Monday evening, Richards, the convention’s founding director, delivered his “valedictory” address, and Lorick gave his inaugural message on the transition from the leadership of Moses to that of Joshua. Lorick urged messengers both to remember God’s past faithfulness and, as a new generation, to “rise up and advance” with the “mission that God has always had us on.”

Messengers also heard sermons from Bowman, pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin; Joe Lightner, president of Jacksonville College; Lakan Mariano, pastor of College Hills Baptist Church in San Angelo, and Ed Johnson III, pastor of Harvest Fellowship Baptist Church in DeSoto. Lorick and Matt Boswell – musician, composer and pastor of The Trails Church in Prosper – closed the annual meeting with a time of corporate prayer and worship Tues. evening, Nov. 9.

Also on Nov. 9, four panels discussed areas of concern to messengers and churches: the persecution of the church (see Persecution); evangelism and prayer (see Prayer); rebuilding the pastor and church after COVID (see COVID); and the church and worship for the Young Pastors Network (see Worship).

All told, the annual meeting registered 807 messengers and 219 guests for a total of 1,026 attendees representing 345 total churches. The 2022 SBTC annual meeting will be held Nov. 14-15 at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.

Reporting by Jayson Larson, Gary Ledbetter, Jane Rodgers

SBCV celebrates 25 years, record giving

By SBCV Staff

HAMPTON, Va. (BP) – More than 1,200 people gathered at the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia’s Annual Homecoming to celebrate 25 years of ministry. Messengers came together Nov. 7-9, 2021 at Libertylive.Church.

“We always look forward to the SBC of Virginia Annual Homecoming because we are family,” said Grant Ethridge, senior pastor of Libertylive.Church. “This year, we celebrated 25 years, remembering all that God has done, those who came before us, and our unwavering commitment to the authority of Scripture. We recommitted our lives believing our greatest days of Gospel opportunities are ahead.”

Attendees enjoyed highlights and interviews about the 1996 founding of the SBC of Virginia. One of the special presentations included looking back at God’s faithfulness among the last 25 years of church planting. Those in attendance also heard from Brian Autry, SBCV executive director, and Kevin Ezell, North American Mission Board president, about the new partnership between NAMB and SBCV called Send Network Virginia, which will increase support and resources for existing and new church plants.

“Our 25th anniversary theme was Keep Pressing on Together,” Autry said. “And Ephesians 3:20-21 became a Scripture quoted over and over, so as the Lord tarries in His return, may we keep pressing on together with the Gospel because God is able!”

During Autry’s sermon and report on Monday evening, he called for a heightened focus on prayer for revival and spiritual awakening. Chuck Lawless, vice president for spiritual formation and ministry centers at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, also helped lead a “concert of prayer.”

Compelling keynote messages were shared by Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Bryan Carter, senior pastor of Concord Church in Dallas, Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, Steven Rummage, senior pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, and Allen McFarland, president of the SBCV and senior pastor of Calvary Evangelical Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Va.

Gifts given in 2020 by SBCV churches through the Cooperative Program broke the all-time record at $9,621,846. The record was also broken for the most given through the 2020 Vision Virginia missions offering to equal $387,955.

Upon recommendation, messengers approved the proposed Ministry Investment Plan of $10.1 million for the 2022 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, the same allocation as last year.

Newly elected SBCV officers received unanimous approval by messengers: Stan Parris, pastor of Franklin Heights BC in Rocky Mount, president; Joey Anthony, pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, first vice-president; Felix Sermon, pastor of Grace International Christian Church in Springfield, vice-president; Jason Taylor, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Kents Store, secretary.

SBCV messengers will meet at First Baptist Church in Roanoke Nov. 13-15 for the 2022 annual homecoming. Invited speakers include H.B. Charles, Johnny Hunt, Clint Pressley, and Bruce Frank.

Read the full story here.

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