ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (BP)–Messengers to the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s annual meeting heard a report from Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research, who presented research findings about the level of spiritual maturity and discipleship among Kentucky Baptists.
Describing some of the findings as “troubling,” McConnell said only 49 percent of respondents disagreed with the “heretical statement” that “Christians must continually work toward their salvation or risk losing it” and only 45 percent disagreed with the statement that “if a person is sincerely seeking God, he or she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity.”
“These are not issues we can solve by simply talking louder,” McConnell said at the Nov. 13-14 meeting at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown. “We need to acknowledge the fact there are people quietly misunderstanding or quietly choosing not to believe some of the truths in the Word of God.”
One major business item approved by messengers was a proposal from the KBC Committee on Order of Business to conduct all convention business on one day with the option of a second day for workshops or other events as needed. It was approved by voice vote with scattered opposition.
Committee Chairman Charles Barnes said the reason for the change was a lack of attendance during Wednesday morning sessions in recent years. The convention was unable to conduct business on its final day two of the past three years due to the lack of a quorum. KBC bylaws require that at least 25 percent of registered messengers must attend a session to constitute a quorum.
The change will take effect at next year’s annual meeting Nov. 11 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington.
The number of registered messengers dipped dramatically, from more than 1,400 last year and 1,800-plus the previous year to 942 this year. It was the first time messenger registration has dropped below 1,000 since 1974.
In the KBC’s first uncontested presidential election in five years, Bill Henard was elected by acclamation. Henard, pastor of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, also is a part-time assistant professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and chairman of LifeWay Christian Resources’ board of trustees. His election marked the third time in four years that a Southern Seminary faculty member has been elected KBC president.
“It’s an interesting connection between Kentucky Baptists and Southern Seminary,” Henard told reporters in a post-election press conference. “I don’t think it’s a conspiracy by any means.
“I’ve never had anyone from Southern Seminary ever try to tell me what I should do,” he added. “They’ve always asked: ‘How can we help?’ and ‘How can we be more involved with what is happening in the Kentucky Baptist Convention?’ I’ve been pleased with that.”
Former KBC President Hershael York, also a Southern Seminary professor and associate dean, nominated Henard for the KBC presidency.
York, pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, noted that Henard’s congregation “has been a perennial leader in our state in baptisms, in missions and in Cooperative Program giving.” He said Henard will “keep us working together to reach our state and our world with the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Henard said his goals for the year include calling churches to revival and spiritual awakening and encouraging increased baptisms and Cooperative Program support.
“I want to see our churches experience real spiritual awakening from within,” he emphasized. “That would be my top priority.”
In other elections, two directors of missions were named convention vice presidents. Jim Castlen of Three Forks Baptist Association was elected first vice president and Rick Reeder of Caldwell-Lyon Baptist Association was elected second vice president.
Messengers re-elected their longtime convention secretaries. Wilma Simmons of Vine Grove has served as KBC secretary since 1991, and Mike Melloan of Owensboro has served as assistant secretary since 2003.
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, was among the keynote speakers during the two-day meeting.
“I will not believe that the best days are behind us,” he declared. “I believe God wants to give us a new day. I believe God wants us to experience revival and renewal.”
In other business, KBC messengers adopted five resolutions without discussion or opposition, including measures opposing expanded gambling and urging the protection of children from abuse.
Messengers also approved a Cooperative Program budget goal of $24 million for the 2008-09 fiscal year, unchanged from the current budget goal. The budget includes a $1.3 million challenge goal for a total CP goal of $25.3 million. It also increases the percentage forwarded to Southern Baptist Convention causes to 37.04 percent, an increase of 0.34 percent over the current budget year.
Trennis Henderson is editor of the Western Recorder, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.