BECKLEY, W.Va. (BP)–Messengers to the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists adopted a slight budget decrease but kept steady the percentage forwarded to the national Cooperative Program.
They also approved several resolutions, including one that opposed same-sex “marriage” but affirmed the need to love and take the Gospel to homosexuals.
Meeting Nov. 7-8 at Memorial Baptist Church in Beckley, with the theme of “Empowering Kingdom Growth: Kingdom First,” messengers adopted a $2,622,568 budget, $501,023 (37.5 percent) of which is expected to go to the national Cooperative Program to support international and national missions and ministries.
The total budget reflects a $7,032 decrease from the 2002 budget with no percentage change in the amount forwarded to the Cooperative Program.
The 2003 budget plan anticipates $1,344,970 income from the congregations in Cooperative Program gifts, with the balance coming from five other sources: the North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, the Florida Baptist Convention, the Ola Cox State Missions Offering and interest income from Baptist Foundation and other accounts.
Cooperative Program receipts have hovered near a 3 percent increase over 2002 levels during the first 10 months of the year while fixed expenses like health insurance have grown at double-digit rates.
By holding staff salaries at 2003 levels, raising deductibles on staff health insurance policies and slightly reducing some program budgets, leaders said the adopted budget appears to be within the reach of West Virginia Baptists. A possible staff reduction will be considered at the January meeting of the convention’s executive board as a means of reducing the expected 2005 needs.
The convention began with the seating of messengers from six new churches and a vote to accept two additional works under watchcare for one year. Final registration for the meeting: 198 messengers and 53 visitors.
Because nearly 20 churches had not completed their Annual Church Profiles by the time of the convention, officials stated that it was too early to report statistical changes in baptisms and membership figures. At the time of the annual meeting, the ACP report showed total membership at 29,738 in the 187 churches and chapels affiliated with the state convention.
Johnny Kelly, pastor of Westview Baptist Church in Martinsburg, was elected president while Charlie Drake, pastor of Burke Memorial Baptist Church in Princeton, was elected first vice president, both the only nominees for the offices.
Ron McCoy, pastor of Cameron Baptist Church was elected second vice president in a runoff with Jack Miller, pastor of West Ripley Baptist in Ripley, Fred Morgan was re-elected to serve as recording secretary. Morgan is a layman, long active in West Virginia Southern Baptist life and a member of Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg.
Phil Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, led a Bible study, while Terry Harper, convention executive director, and Joe Buchanan, pastor of Open Door Baptist Church in Colliers, preached. Joyful Sound of North Greenville College in South Carolina provided special music.
Messengers unanimously adopted a large slate of resolutions that included:
— holding that “legal and biblical marriage can only occur between one man and one woman.” Legalization of same-sex “marriage” would convey “a societal approval of a homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible calls sinful and dangerous.”
But messengers affirmed their “love for the homosexual by reaching out to them” with the Gospel.
— support and appreciation for President Bush, members of the U.S. armed services and their families for their service in the war on terrorism.
— affirmation of the inerrancy of Scripture and the exclusivity of the Gospel. “[W]e reject the eclectic notion that Christianity is just one of many religions and affirm that the very heart of the Christian faith is the exclusive claim of Jesus Christ to be very God and the only Savior (John 14:6) as validated by his historic resurrection from the dead.”
— support for the First Amendment, calling on government to protect citizens “against all forms of religious discrimination and persecution.”
— affirmation of President Bush for nominating “well-qualified candidates” to fill vacancies in the judiciary. The resolution repudiated “partisan obstructionism” by U.S. senators.
— opposition to all forms of gambling within West Virginia.
— support for Bush in signing the partial-birth abortion ban. “[W]e are convinced that all abortion is taking the life of a human being and therefore is tantamount to murder,” the resolution read. “We affirm our love toward women who have aborted children and reach out to them with the redemptive, forgiving grace found in Jesus Christ.”
The 2004 annual meeting will be Nov. 5-6 at the Highlawn Baptist Church in Huntington.