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WRAP-UP: Calif. increases percentage

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–Messengers to the California Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting adopted an $11.6 million budget that increases giving to national and international missions and ministries.

Messengers also turned down a constitutional amendment related to the Baptist Faith and Message during their Nov. 13-14 sessions.

“Connecting to Accomplish the Work” was the theme of the 67th annual meeting at Russian Baptist Church in West Sacramento where 518 messengers and 270 guests registered.

Messengers approved a 2008 budget of $11,647,222, a decrease of $358,823 from the 2007 budget primarily due to the adjustment of the California Mission Offering goal from $1.34 million to $525,000. There is no change for 2008 in the CSBC $8,316,472 Cooperative Program objective.

Several changes were reflected in the 2008 spending plan over 2007, primarily percentages allocated for the CSBC, the Southern Baptist Convention, California Baptist University and the California Baptist Foundation.

The amount going to the SBC for national and international missions and ministries increased from 28 to 29 percent. Milton Steck, chairman of the CSBC executive board, explained the intent is to increase the percentage another point in the 2009 budget. The amount budgeted for the SBC is $2,411,777.

Under the spending plan, CBU will receive 13 percent, or $1,081,141, a decrease of 3.438 percent. The decrease resulted from a resolution from CBU trustees asking that the university’s Cooperative Program allocation be reduced to 10 percent over a two-year period.

California Baptist Foundation will receive 1 percent, or $83,165, of the CP objective. The remaining 57 percent, or $4,740,388, of CP gifts is allocated for California Baptist ministries to support churches throughout the state in reaching people for Christ. The proposed budget calls for receipts received over the basic objective to be distributed equally between the SBC and the CSBC.

Messengers approved a resolution affirming the Cooperative Program as the vehicle which, since 1925, has “united Southern Baptist churches in mission causes and blessed the cooperative efforts of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

The resolution also mentioned the direct support of state, national and international missionaries supported by the Cooperative Program and said the “Cooperative Program has been the delivery system to help reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s redemptive love.”

Messengers turned away a constitutional amendment requiring the Baptist Faith and Message “most recently” adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention as the one to qualify churches for membership in the state convention.

Sid Peterson, a messenger from Westchester Baptist Church in Bakersfield, introduced the proposed change in 2006.

Dewey Squyres, a messenger from Fellowship of San Martin, opposed the amendment, saying that “it would turn our Baptist polity upside down.”

All churches, associations and state and national conventions retain self-authority, he said. “However, if we adopt this, we will be allowing another organization [the SBC] to determine what our membership will be,” he said. “The Southern Baptist Convention does not apply this standard to its own messengers.”

Dan Nelson, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Camarillo, spoke in favor of the change, saying, “We need to be specific about the Baptist Faith and Message. It represents a consensus of belief. We need some type of definitive parameters in determining what is a Southern Baptist church.”

The most recent Baptist Faith and Message was adopted by the SBC in 2000. Two other statements of faith were adopted by the SBC — one in 1925, the other in 1963.

Paul Wilkerson, a retired director of missions and current interim pastor at Desert Springs Church in Hesperia, was re-elected by acclamation to a second term as president of the convention.

Don Conley, pastor of Encanto Baptist Church in San Diego, was elected first vice president in a vote that also included Rick Bennett, pastor of Central Coast Baptist Church in Grover Beach.

Alton Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in San Diego, was elected second vice president. Jeff McCulty, pastor of The Church on Pearl in Santa Monica, also was nominated.

Paul Plunk, minister of music at Del Cerro Baptist Church in La Mesa, was elected music director by acclamation.

Emphasizing cooperative partnerships, Ken Hemphill, national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, outlined how one church can impact eternity using the example of the church at Antioch.

That early church gave, supported and cooperated with each other out of a genuine concern for one another, a Kingdom mindset and a strategic plan, Hemphill said. Likewise, today’s churches have a responsibility to work together so God’s Kingdom might increase throughout the world, he said.

“Cooperative ministry meets the needs of the saints, produces thanksgiving to God, leads others to glorify God and creates mutual prayer and yearning for the Kingdom,” Hemphill declared. “When we cooperate, God’s Kingdom is increasingly diverse and reflective of His creativity.”

Messengers re-affirmed the time and place for the 2008 and 2009 conventions: Nov. 11-12, 2008, at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon and Nov. 10-11, 2009 at California Baptist University in Riverside. Also approved were the dates of Oct. 26-27 for the 2010 meeting at Clovis Hills Community Church in Clovis.

Wayne Stacks, chairman of the CSBC committee on convention operations, explained the October date proposal by noting that many state conventions have their annual meetings on the same days in November, which makes it difficult to enlist speakers. He further explained that both California Baptist University and the California Baptist Foundation would like to have a presence at other state conventions but usually can’t because of the conflicting schedules.

Stacks also mentioned that the committee believes that a move away from the Thanksgiving holiday season may improve attendance.

The October date would require a constitutional change in Article 3, Section 2, to define the time period for Cooperative Program giving by churches to qualify messengers. The amendment, which calls for CP contributions during the “12 months previous to the month of the annual meeting,” will be debated and voted on at the 2008 annual meeting.

Another constitutional amendment to change the CSBC name to the “Network of California Baptist Churches” was introduced by Tom Stringfellow, a messenger from First Baptist Church of Beverly Hills in West Hollywood. The amendment also will be brought to messengers at the 2008 annual meeting.

During miscellaneous business, Ron Wilson, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Thousand Oaks, introduced three motions, each of which later was defeated. Two of the motions dealt with salaries and financial packages for convention entity executives while the third dealt with including Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in the CSBC budget.

Wilson’s first motion asked the convention to request the trustees of CBU to reconsider some of the financial packages paid at the university, asking them to consider the problems they are causing in some local churches in the areas of direct support and estate planning.

The second motion asked the president to appoint a committee for the purpose of comparing the salary structure of the three CSBC entities (convention, foundation and university) with “all like entities in our sister state conventions” and report their findings when complete in the California Southern Baptist newsjournal.

Wilson’s third motion called for the CSBC executive board to “consider including a percentage” of the state convention budget to go to Golden Gate Seminary.

CSBC executive board chairman Steck reported on the motion referral from 2006 asking the board to “examine the beneficial effects that sole membership may provide to this convention under California non-profit corporation law.”

Steck reported that the CSBC executive committee and the leadership of CBF and CBU had met with the state convention’s legal counsel and determined that “the term sole membership would not provide any significant benefit to the CSBC under California law.”

“We do not recommend any changes to the existing articles or bylaws of the university or the foundation,” Steck said. “As far as the state of California is concerned, we are in a very secure situation and have a great relationship with all of our entities. Under California law we’re tightly connected, and we are also connected as brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Wilson of Thousand Oaks asked: “Are we saying what we said back in early ’90s, that there’s no way the school could be stolen from this convention?” Steck replied, “The attorneys are saying to us that is correct.”

In other business, Chris Clark, a messenger from East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church in San Diego, took a point of personal privilege and asked California Southern Baptists to become involved in efforts to amend the California Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Terry Barone is editor of the California Southern Baptist, newsjournal of the California Southern Baptist Convention.

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