ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (BP)–New Mexico Baptists repeatedly heard the challenge to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ during their 96th annual meeting at Sandia Baptist Church in Albuquerque, Oct. 23-24.
Joseph Bunce, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, asked messengers and guests, “What is God calling you to do?” He then cited the BCNM’s “Saturate’08” evangelism campaign, an effort to hold simultaneous revivals in churches across New Mexico starting in the spring of next year.
Voicing his desire that the state’s Baptists become a “church-planting, soul-winning” convention, Bunce urged every church to “embrace” the Saturate’08 evangelistic emphasis and to partner with each other to start new churches. He also noted the evangelistic opportunities among Hispanics in New Mexico, who comprise 51 percent of the Land of Enchantment’s population.
Joe Lightner, BCNM’s evangelism director, said he prays God will saturate New Mexico Baptists with the urgency of evangelism so they will saturate the state with the message of Christ.
BCNM President Rick Sullivan noted in his presidential address that Christians must pay attention to the adjustments God requires if they are to complete His assignment, while Wayne Barber, pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, stated during the convention’s annual sermon that love for one another is “critical” to New Mexico Baptists’ mission of reaching the world for Christ.
Bobby Welch, strategist for global evangelical relations for the SBC’s Executive Committee, and Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., also underscored the call to evangelism.
“We must demonstrate the compassion we have in our hearts. … The way we do it is by sharing the Gospel with people,” Welch said.
Iorg urged his fellow Westerners to not allow “secondary and tertiary issues” keep them from proclaiming the Gospel, warning of the temptation to not speak for Jesus because “we don’t want to introduce a relational tension into our lives.”
Messengers and guests were given an opportunity for evangelism Wednesday afternoon by gathering at X-Factor, a storefront Baptist mission in Albuquerque, and then visiting 300 homes, leaving a Gospel witness and inviting residents to X-Factor’s fall festival.
Forty-five visits resulted in “face-to-face encounters” and 16 people indicated they would attend X-Factor, said Ken Goode, Central Baptist Association’s director of missions.
Harmony and expedience typified the annual meeting’s business sessions as messengers passed each measure without opposition or discussion.
Jay McCollum, immediate past BCNM president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Gallup, nominated for a second one-year term the slate of officers who had served the previous year. Messengers then unanimously elected Rick Sullivan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Artesia, president; David King, a member of Monterey Baptist Church in Albuquerque, first vice president; and Garland Moore, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Milan, second vice president.
Messengers adopted the BCNM’s largest-ever Cooperative Program budget — $4,391,157 in gifts from the state’s churches, an anticipated 6.67 percent increase, or $274,610.
The budget includes a 3.5 percent salary increase for BCNM employees and maintains a 30.5 percent contribution to Cooperative Program national and international missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The remaining 69.5 percent of CP gifts along with additional income of $1,886,751 from various sources, including the North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, Baptist New Mexican subscriptions and advertising, and Baptist Building rental income, will support a total operating budget of $4.9 million for outreach in New Mexico.
The BCNM consists of 310 churches and 21 missions, with about 60,000 resident members. A total of 540 messengers representing 124 churches attended the annual meeting.
Next year’s sessions are scheduled for Oct. 28-29 at First Baptist Church in Las Cruces.
John Loudat is editor of the Baptist New Mexican, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.