ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Messengers at the 160th annual meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention amended the charters of its entities to clarify that each LBC entity is owned by the convention.
Convening at the Riverfront Convention Center in Alexandria, and with “Empowering Kingdom Growth” for a theme, the Nov. 12-13 meeting registered 1,014 messengers and attracted numerous guests.
The amendments were a necessary extension of the convention’s decision a year ago to incorporate, explained LBC executive board chairman Frances LaRocque, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Lake Charles. The amendments passed without discussion.
Up more than $170,000 from last year, the convention’s 2008 budget approved by messengers anticipates $21,170,826 in giving from Louisiana Baptist churches. With 35.5 percent of undesignated receipts going to SBC national and international missions and ministries, the remaining 64.5 percent will remain in Louisiana for use in Cooperative Program ministries.
Reflecting a recent policy change, receipts exceeding the budget will be shared 50/50 between the LBC and SBC Cooperative Programs.
“In the face of serious economic challenges in parts of our state,” said LBC Executive Director David Hankins, “in the midst of the ongoing monumental recovery efforts on our coast –- especially in New Orleans, in spite of cultural battles that demand your constant attention, and with all the duties of effective congregational life, Louisiana Baptists have given nearly $1 million more to the Cooperative Program than this time last year -– more than 5 percent more -– and the special offerings are growing by more than 10 percent for the second year in a row.
“Like the Macedonians, you gave yourself first to Christ, then to us,” Hankins said. “You are heeding the challenge of Kingdom-mindedness and reversing a two-decade trend of church income outgrowing mission income.”
Hankins reported significant increases in each of the three seasonal missions offerings. Louisiana Baptist gave more than $4.24 million for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, exceeding the $3.8 million goal. They gave more than $1.94 million for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, exceeding the $1.7 million goal. And they gave about $1.48 million for the Georgia Barnette Offering for State Missions, exceeding the $1.3 million goal.
D. August Boto, executive vice president of the SBC Executive Committee in Nashville, Tenn., brought greetings and words of appreciation from SBC Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman.
“You are the face of the Cooperative Program,” Boto told messengers, noting that Southern Baptists gave more than $205 million for global mission causes through the Cooperative Program last year and more than $200 million more in designated offerings for missions and other ministries.
By a 513-314 vote, messengers elected Mike Holloway, pastor of Cook Baptist Church in Ruston, as president over Chuck Pourciau, pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport. Both were lauded for their support of the Cooperative Program and Southern Baptist missions. Messengers elected Mitch Harris, a member of Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, as first vice president over Lindsey Burns, pastor of First Baptist Church in DeRidder, by a 380-325 vote. Mickey Bounds, a member of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Farmerville, was elected unopposed as second vice president.
Messengers passed several resolutions that spanned the gamut of moral and cultural concerns: against hate crimes legislation, for pastors showing active Christian citizenship, against partial-birth abortion, for protecting children from abuse, and for personal and corporate repentance.
Special guests at the annual meeting included Jamie Wilson, Miss Louisiana 2006, who spoke of the training she received from her family and First Baptist Church in Minden, La., that enabled her to persevere through years of disappointments to her goal of a pageant crown. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was the convention’s Bible study leader, while evangelist Bill Britt of Gallatin, Tenn., brought the closing sermon.
Bivocational pastor Hardy Estes of Marlow Baptist Church in Pitkin delivered the convention’s annual sermon.
During the pre-convention Cenla Family Fun Days evangelistic outreach, more than 300 people made professions of faith. Twenty-seven churches hosted the series of coordinated events.
The Cenla Family Fun Days included motorcycle stunt riding, skateboarding acrobatics, bull riding and neighborhood block parties. The outreach concluded with a Sunday evening Freedom Fest, featuring a special concert, fireworks display and message by Silver and Bronze Star recipient and Vietnam veteran Clebe McClary at the Riverfront Amphitheater.
“The process is already underway to follow up the decisions,” said Kevin Roberts, chairman of the organizing committee. “We are distributing the contact information to the participating churches.”
“This weekend was a picture of the church at her best. Pastors led hundreds of their church members to impact their community for Christ,” Keith Manuel, LBC evangelism associate, said. “One aspect of [the outreach] that excites me is the number of church members that are now equipped to share their faith as a result of the training. This weekend prepared them to contribute to the Kingdom and their particular Louisiana Baptist church for a lifetime.”
Also preceding the annual meeting: the LBC’s annual pastors’ conference and the first-ever gathering of about 50 women serving vocationally in Christian ministries. About 350 attended the pastors’ conference, during which a resolution was passed to establish a fund at the Louisiana Baptist Foundation that could be used to offset expenses of future pastors’ conferences. About 50 women gathered for the organizational meeting of the as-yet-unnamed group of women leaders.
The 2008 annual meeting of the Louisiana convention is scheduled for Nov. 10-11 at First Baptist Church in New Orleans.
Karen Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. John Yeats, communications director for the convention, contributed to this article.