Davidson elected president in prayerful MBC
OSAGE BEACH—Messengers to the 173rd annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) at Tan-Tar-A on Oct. 29-31 elected a new president, maintained their historic position on refraining from alcohol consumption, and put prayer front and center in a purposeful effort to maintain biblical unity through continued cooperation.
Gerald Davidson, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Arnold, was elected president with 68.4 percent of the ballots cast by 1,218 messengers as he defeated incumbent president Mike Green, director of missions for Twin Rivers Baptist Association, 832-381. Green immediately congratulated Davidson from the platform.
“You are my president,” Green said. “I will pray for you, and I will stand beside you.”
Davidson, 71, who was first elected MBC president in 1992, was nominated by the man who succeeded him in the pulpit at First Arnold, Kenny Qualls. Green, who was attempting to become the first president to be re-elected since messengers voted to permit that option in 2005, was nominated by another former MBC president, Jay Scribner, the retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Branson and a messenger from Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield.
It marked the first contested election since the 2000 annual meeting, which was also held at Tan-Tar-A. That year conservative presidential candidate Bob Collins defeated a moderate opponent, Harlan Spurgeon, 1,984-1,253. Conservatives that year also won elections for first vice president, second vice president and recording secretary. Since then conservatives have been leading the convention, and it has evolved to where conservatives are now choosing to run against their fellow conservatives.
Other officers elected were: Bruce McCoy, pastor, Canaan Baptist Church, St. Louis, first vice president (re-elected); John Marshall, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Springfield, second vice president; and Chadd Pendergraft, pastor, Splitlog Baptist Church, Goodman, recording secretary.
All of the winning candidates were supported by David Sheppard, pastor of First Baptist Church in St. Charles and coordinator of the Save Our Convention (SOC) political organization. Sheppard said in May that SOC’s goal was to get 1,100 messengers to go to Tan-Tar-A “to turn our convention around and move it back from the legalism to the center where it needs to be.” Sheppard, Marshall and Qualls are three of the 11 founding leaders of SOC.
“I predict that this next MBC ministry year will be one where angst gives way to accomplishment, where suspicion dissipates by the strength of sweetness, and fretting will largely end and friendships will begin again,” McCoy said.
Davidson wasted no time letting messengers know whom they elected.
“You have four men who despise the use of alcohol, pornography, gambling, and you can throw in a few other sins along with that,” he said.
On Oct. 31, he presided as chairman over the MBC Executive Board and flatly declared, “I have no personal agenda, and I don’t think any of those who have been elected this week have a personal agenda, and I hope that you don’t have. I hope that we can come together.”
Ten resolutions were submitted, and six were recommended for adoption by the Resolutions Committee. Those included one expressing support for the upcoming Cures Without Cloning campaign, one calling for tighter regulation of pornography, and one calling for restriction of gambling. Much of the attention went to a resolution opposing the consumption of alcohol, which was passed from the floor 503-360 after originally not being reported out by the committee.
A total of 1,657 people, including 1,336 messengers, registered for the 2007 annual meeting, which carried the theme of “Building Kingdom Focused Churches,” based on Acts 1:8. A total of 546 churches were represented.
Messengers approved a $16.5 million budget for 2008, with 1 percent set aside for Cooperative Program missions education and promotion. That is the same budget as 2007, with one difference. Out of the remaining $16,335,000, a total of 36.25 percent will be designated for SBC causes, with 63.75 percent for MBC work. The 2007 SBC percentage was 36.
The 2008 budget also sets a goal of $4 million for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions as well as a $2 million goal for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions and $325,000 for the World Hunger Offering.
Rodney Albert, pastor of Hallsville Baptist Church and outgoing chairman of the MBC’s Christian Life Commission, delivered the convention sermon. John Swadley, pastor, Forest Park Baptist Church, Joplin, was chosen to preach the 2008 convention sermon during the Oct. 27-29 annual meeting at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis. Hosea Bilyeu, pastor of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield, will be the alternate.
The MBC Executive Board welcomed 11 new members to its ranks.
The new members are: Becky Almond, laity, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, Hartsburg; Gordon Voss, laity, Olney Baptist Church, Middleton; Monty Dunn, pastor, Highlandville Baptist Church; Larry Atkins, pastor, First Baptist Church, Buckhorn; Steven Betts, laity, Philadelphia Baptist Church, Rolla; Doug Ervin, laity, First Baptist Church, Kearney; Wayne Karrick, laity, Prairie Hill Baptist Church, Seligman; Rebecca Nance, laity, Ravanna Baptist Church, Trenton; Phil Rector, director of missions, First Baptist Church, Belle; Lynne Woods, laity, Ramsey Creek Baptist Church, Louisiana; and Marty Finch, laity, First Baptist Church, Winfield.
Retiring board members are: Gary Barkley, laity, Pisgah Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs; Randy Comer, pastor, Highview Baptist Church, Chillicothe; Bill Edwards, pastor, Path of Life Baptist Church, Wright City; Wayne Isgriggs, pastor, First Baptist Church, Lincoln; Neal Myers, pastor, Bethel Baptist Church, West Plains; Bob Noland, laity, First Baptist Church, Exeter; and Eleanore Warner, laity, Eolia Baptist Church, Bowling Green.
Featured speakers at the convention included: Vance Pitman, pastor, Hope Baptist Church, Las Vegas; Mike Hamlet, pastor, First Baptist Church, North Spartanburg, S.C.; Carlisle Driggers, recently retired executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention; and David Gibbs III, Christian attorney and author, Tampa, Fla.
MBC Interim Executive Director David Tolliver described two people as his heroes of the faith when he recognized them on the platform Oct. 30. Kay Robertson, a 30-year staffer with the MBC, and Bobby Shows, retiring founder of the Sports Crusaders ministry, were honored. The MBC Executive Board also passed a resolution celebrating the ministry of Shows and his wife, Jane.
The MBC remains locked in a six-year legal battle with five entities whose trustees voted to make their boards self-perpetuating by amending their charters. The status of Windermere Baptist Conference Center, Missouri Baptist College, the Baptist Home retirement center, the Missouri Baptist Foundation and Word & Way newsjournal remains uncertain as the legal maneuvering continues. The MBC Legal Task Force provided messengers with an update.
As the MBC said goodbye to its partnership with Romania, the El Salvador partnership prepared to spring into its second year with reports of much ministry activity in the Central American nation. The MBC is also continuing its partnership with Colorado Baptists.
Other resolutions recognizing the 150th anniversary of the Dred Scott Decision and encouraging family worship were passed.
Acting on a recommendation made by the Credentials Committee, messengers recognized and accepted 1,984 churches as Baptist churches affiliated with the MBC. The rules and procedures of the committee were placed on a course to be amended, with little opposition, and sent to the MBC Committee on Continuing Review for final approval, to state that any church which contributes to the work of the MBC through the Cooperative Program on at least an annual basis shall be singly aligned with the MBC. Continuing Review Chairman David Krueger, pastor of First Baptist Church of Linn, expressed concern that the committee may only have the choice to vote it up or down, without an option to change the language.
Prayer was the heart of the annual meeting. Tolliver kept bringing the messengers back to it, saying during a Solemn Assembly the day before the convention that it was “the most important meeting you will attend.” At one point during the annual meeting he had messengers hold hands across the aisles and pray for specific leaders (Green and Davidson) and universities (Hannibal- LaGrange College and Southwest Baptist University).
“I believe that the difficulties are turning to questions and will soon be answered as we turn to God for those answers,” he said.
Messengers voted, with little opposition, to return to Tan-Tar-A for the 2011 annual meeting. The dates will be Oct. 30 through Nov. 2.