NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Widespread calls for spiritual awakening were voiced in resolutions and sermons at many Southern Baptist state convention meetings this fall. The urgency of prayer and repentance was repeated, from a testimony by Scott Brewer, president of the Northwest Baptist Convention, to an appeal by Baptist Convention of New York Executive Director Terry Robertson for churches to set aside a specific time to pray every week for God to send revival.
Ohio and Mississippi Baptists affirmed plans in their states to focus on prayer for spiritual awakening during the month of January, while Nevada Baptists endorsed the priority as part of task force recommendations. Kentucky Baptists were called to prayer and dependence upon God for spiritual awakening, while Arkansas, New Mexico and Ohio Baptists pledged to penetrate the lostness of their states. Illinois Baptists renewed their focus on evangelism and missions.
Several annual meetings were preceded by evangelistic outreach in the host region, including Tampa, Fla., where 689 professions of faith were reported, and an outreach effort in Albany, Ga., where food and Bibles were distributed and 27 people professed faith in Christ.
Crossover Central Nebraska resulted in 38 professions of faith, and the Valley Reach campaign of the Baptist General Convention of Texas featured 48 projects and 82 congregations with 766 professions of faith reported. Crossover Corpus Christi, hosted by Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, reported 696 professions of faith at a single outreach event.
Messengers at several state convention meetings endorsed proposals to apply the concepts of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force recommendations adopted by Southern Baptist Convention messengers in Orlando this past June. Florida, Kentucky, Nevada and Tennessee Baptists called for moving to a 50/50 distribution of Cooperative Program funds so resources for ministry could be increased worldwide.
Similar studies will get underway in Alabama, California, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee next year as these state conventions evaluate how to prioritize their own mission strategies. Alabama Baptists will rely on their executive board to study “how to focus resources and conduct Great Commission ministries through the coming decade.” California’s 12-member Focus 21 task force will study how best to focus efforts on fulfilling the Great Commission.
Arizona, Minnesota-Wisconsin, South Carolina and New England Baptists approved the creation of task forces or committees for developing plans to respond to the SBC-endorsed Great Commission Resurgence Task Force recommendations, particularly in light of anticipated funding changes. Arizona Baptists also heard from a 10-member team that affirmed their current structure while proposing churches be “rewarded” for strategic planning. Oklahoma Baptists endorsed forming a 23-member Mission Advance Team to analyze the work of the convention and recommend strategic priorities. Tennessee Baptists approved a Vision 2021 strategic planning team to evaluate their effectiveness.
Ohio and Northwest Baptists appealed for prayer for new leaders Kevin Ezell at the North American Mission Board and Frank Page at the SBC Executive Committee at a time of change, while Ohio and New England Baptists specifically referred to the need for prayer as changes are implemented as part of the Great Commission Resurgence.
Colorado Baptists will have a chance to provide input in 2011 to a task force that has been examining the strategy and structure of their state convention during the past year. Utah-Idaho messengers affirmed that their churches are “on mission with the Great Commission.”
Nevada Southern Baptists endorsed a proposal to merge their state convention and four associations into one entity, affirmed the value of churches starting churches and encouraged new pastor/church partnerships. Baptist General Association of Virginia messengers affirmed a proposal to expand their local, national and international relationships based on a two-year review of the growing number of congregations from outside Virginia joining BGAV.
Expressions of support and encouragement of the Cooperative Program as a means of mission partnership and disciple-making were passed by Southern Baptists in New Mexico, the Northwest, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Southern Baptists Conservatives of Virginia and West Virginia, with Illinois Baptists resolving to strengthen cooperation. Illinois, Northwest, Oklahoma and South Carolina Baptists addressed the need for biblical stewardship.
As Kentucky Baptists move toward an equal division of Cooperative Program receipts for in-state and global use, churches were asked to increase their CP allocations incrementally by 3 percent over the next 12 years. Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia encouraged churches to give at least 10 percent to CP and further challenged them to increase giving by a quarter-percent annually until 2020.
FAMILY, SANCTITY OF LIFE
Louisiana and Oklahoma Baptists expressed support for the institution of marriage, while Louisianans also encouraged family worship in a separate resolution. Northwest Baptists pledged prayer and ministry to orphans worldwide, while Southern Baptists of Texas Convention messengers encouraged pastors and church leaders to continue emphasizing God’s concern for orphans and attention to ministries that provide financial resources to families desiring to adopt. Oklahoma Baptists also affirmed the ministry of foster care and adoption.
New Mexico Baptists voiced support for legislation that would prohibit late-term abortions in the state, while West Virginia Baptists expressed concern that the newly crafted health care bill “will mandate federal funding of abortion.” Southern Baptists of Texas Convention messengers encouraged elected officials to promote adult stem cell research and defund embryo-destructive research.
Both Alabama and Louisiana Baptists expressed concern that proposed legislation for the “Employment Nondiscrimination Act” would add protections for sexual orientation to current anti-discrimination laws, impeding the free speech rights of pastors and ministers opposed to homosexuality. South Carolina Baptists encouraged believers to love and show compassion toward homosexuals, while advising Baptist leaders to deal honestly with the Word of God, teaching the subject of homosexuality in its intended context of sin.
REACHING DIVERSE POPULATIONS
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention messengers acknowledged the “nearly 400 ethno-linguistic groups” in the state and commended efforts to reflect diversity through leadership.
Baptist General Association of Virginia messengers urged the U.S. Congress to resolve the country’s immigration crisis while Oklahoma Baptists called for citizens and immigrants to obey the laws of the land and committed to taking the message and love of Christ to people of all races and nationalities.
Citing statistics on obesity in the state, Alabama Baptists were urged to repent of overeating and become good stewards of their bodies by practicing moderation as they eat. Both Alabama and Louisiana Baptists encouraged non-smoking policy efforts.
ALCOHOL, GAMBLING, HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Baptist General Association of Virginia messengers rejected proposals by their state government to privatize its Alcohol Beverage Control commission. In North Carolina, a motion passed to study the use of alcohol in relation to funding church plants, people in leadership and hiring of personnel. Alabama Baptists condemned all forms of gambling and urged increased enforcement of gambling laws while South Carolina and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention messengers opposed the spread of gambling. New Mexico Baptists prayed for an end to gambling in the state.
Northwest and Oklahoma Baptists condemned human trafficking, seeking ways to address the issue at state and local levels, while Southern Baptists of Texas Convention messengers encouraged churches to support victim rescue and restoration ministries.
West Virginia Baptists affirmed the Baptist Faith & Message as representing a common confession of beliefs, while North Carolina Baptists approved a motion asking their board of directors to adopt the BF&M as the convention’s doctrinal statement. Louisiana Baptists expressed a commitment to the centrality of the Gospel.
CITIZENSHIP, ELECTIONS, MILITARY
New Mexico, Northwest, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina Baptists appealed for prayer for elected leaders, with Arkansas Baptists encouraging expressions of Christian citizenship. Baptist General Association of Virginia messengers warned of efforts that downplay separation of church and state.
Arkansas, Northwest, Ohio and Oklahoma Baptists expressed appreciation to men and women in the military deployed around the world, while Alabama and Louisiana Baptists opposed changing current law regarding homosexuals in the military.
Florida Baptists supported a resolution expressing dissatisfaction with LifeWay Christian Stores for distributing the movie, “The Blind Side,” which was characterized as having “explicit profanity” and taking God’s name in vain. Louisiana Baptists promised to stand with persecuted Christians, while South Carolina Baptists expressed concern about the increase in theft of copper from church HVAC units and urged churches to become involved in prison ministry. Alabama and Louisiana Baptists joined in expressing sympathy regarding the loss of lives from the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
Expressions of appreciation to the host church were offered in nearly every state meeting, with Oklahoma Baptists celebrating the centennial of Oklahoma Baptist University and affirming the work of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. South Carolina Baptists celebrated the centennial of Anderson University, and Florida Baptists honored the 15-year anniversary of the partnership of Florida Baptist Convention and Confraternite Missioniare Baptiste d’Haiti. Illinois Baptists expressed appreciation for the work of state and national Southern Baptist disaster relief workers.
California Baptists witnessed an appointment service of the International Mission Board, while Southern Baptists of Texas Convention messengers observed a commissioning service of North American Mission Board missionaries.
Transitions of leadership at several state Baptist conventions were recognized. Alaska Baptists honored David Baldwin for 10 years as executive director and welcomed successor Mike Procter, formerly the state convention’s director of missions and men’s ministry. Kentucky Baptists honored executive director Bill Mackey, who will retire May 31, 2011, following 13 years of service. Michigan Baptists recognized Michael Collins for 16 years of service to the convention and welcomed his successor, Bobby Gilstrap, director of missions for the Huron and Southeastern Baptist Associations in Michigan.
Utah-Idaho Baptists recognized James Harding for 34 years of ministry there, including five years as executive director of the convention and 10 years as a religious education consultant.
Several state conventions dealt with matters relating to affiliated schools, including the Baptist General Convention of Texas, where messengers rejected a motion to allow Houston Baptist University to elect non-Baptist trustees. Missouri Baptists changed the name of Hannibal La-Grange College to Hannibal-LaGrange University, rejecting the name of University of Hannibal as requested by the school’s trustees. Georgia Baptists redistributed remaining funds for Mercer University among three other affiliated colleges and universities.
Georgia Baptists voted to exclude Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta because a woman is serving as co-pastor. Baptist General Convention of Texas messengers agreed to alter the format of future annual meetings, selecting a summer date every five years and offering multiple locations through simulcasting in 2017; they rejected a call to eliminate resolutions and move business discussion to a breakout session.
Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN (www.texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.