ST. LOUIS — Buoyed by the news that Cooperative Program (CP) giving is holding steady, messengers to the 178th annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Oct. 29-31 here at the Millennium Hotel approved a $14.6 million CP budget, entered into new partnerships with New York and Mexico, and voted in a new president.
The convention theme was “Gratitude” based on Psalm 107:1. It drew 923 messengers and 295 visitors from 398 churches for a total attendance of 1,224. In 2008, the last time the annual meeting was held here, the crowd was larger (1,058 messengers and 355 visitors for 1,413 total attendees).
The twin concepts of communication and cooperation that MBC Executive Director John Yeats has been sowing in his first year have reaped a measure of optimism. In his Oct. 29 address to messengers, Yeats said a convention “reboot” is now necessary as we build toward the future.
“We know in our heads that by working together we are enabled to do things on a larger scale than we could possibly ever do as individuals, individual churches, one association or even two associations,” Yeats said. “Our Baptist forefathers discovered that our churches by making a proportional gift to the Cooperative Program could accomplish greater things than we could ever imagine or dream, and imagine what’s 20 or 30 years out on that. But for lots of reasons we lost sight of the cooperative vision and began embracing the power of individualism as acceptable to our culture. As a result, our cooperative work has been financially on the skids.”
Messengers approved a $14.6 million Cooperative Program (CP) budget, which is up from the current $14.5 million. CP receipts for the year are projected to come in around $14.6 million (up 6 percent from last year). Budgeted funds for 2013 will be allocated 37.5 percent for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) causes (which is up .25 percent) and 62.5 percent for MBC causes.
Yeats cited one “huge” statistic where CP giving is up this year from last year by around an average of $1,600 per day. He called that unprecedented when compared to other state conventions right now. Giving through the two MBC methods of Plan A and Plan B is still around 45/55 percent, and the MBC is maintaining $2 million in reserve funds.
Yeats noted that the MBC is now on a “50-50 by 2020” course to balance state and national giving for CP causes in the next seven years. This will be accomplished through a “legacy” approach to budgeting.
Approved by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in the 1950s, the method involves placing six items into a “shared” funding category (meaning they would not count toward 50-50). Within those parameters, the MBC would now focus on annuity protections and The Pathway, he said. Special status is warranted in both cases, he said, because the ministry flows back to the churches.
For 2013 this will mean $297,250 will go toward The Pathway as it transitions from a paid subscription newspaper to an open circulation model. That means it will be distributed at no extra charge to upwards of 30,000 home units. For the annuity protections, the dollar amount will be $435,000. With that coming off the top, the actual total for the recommended budget drops to $13,912,750.
With this new 50-50 emphasis comes an identical commitment to distribute the MBC’s overage line item (sometimes referred to as the “underspend”) that way each year. Right now this category in the budget is more than $332,000.
Wesley Hammond is the new MBC president. For the last two years, the MBC has had the same group of four officers led by President John Marshall, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Springfield, who completed a five-year sustained run as an officer. Now Hammond, who moves up after two years as first vice president, is the only one of those four remaining.
Hammond, pastor, First Baptist Church, Paris, defeated David Baker, pastor, First Baptist Church, Belton, 405-269. Other officers are: Neil Franks, pastor, First Baptist Church, Branson (first vice president); Joshua Hedger, pastor, Freshwater Church (second vice president); and David Krueger, pastor, First Baptist Church, Linn (recording secretary). All were unopposed.
The total number of MBC churches is being reduced. After one vote on Oct. 29 and another on Oct. 31 to reconsider, messengers opted to potentially remove 94 churches from the MBC by Dec. 31 due to their lack of giving through the Cooperative Program (CP). The action comes after a constitutional change in 2008 and several years of grace. Now by a final means of certified letter, congregations are going to either request removal or demonstrate that they have been disbanded.
Continuing its strong commitment to partnership missions, the MBC will now be engaged in Upstate New York and Puebla/Tlxaca, Mexico. Both partnerships will last through Dec. 31, 2016, with possible extensions of up to four more years. Messengers also voted to extend the MBC’s partnership with the International Mission Board (IMB) for a fourth year with the Sub-Sahara Africa Affinity Peoples for the Western Gateway Cluster. A partnership with Northern Illinois will be discontinued as of Dec. 31.
The MBC is weighing the feasibility of a historical restoration, acquiring a new Baptist Building, or buying an existing building. More assessment is needed to determine whether to stay in a renovated building, with the possibility of capital generation being explored, or whether to sell the property. To that effect, up to $35,000 from the Building Fund has been set aside to pay Pearce Construction of Kansas City as they produce firmer cost figures and develop a comprehensive strategy to pursue renovation/restoration of the Baptist Building. A preliminary presentation of their findings could occur at the December board meeting.
Messengers also gave Southwest Baptist University (SBU) their approval on charter changes. SBU President C. Pat Taylor said several of them are minor in that they involve gender-neutral language. The other change involves adding a section that states that the 136 acres of property known in 2012 as the Shoffner and Stufflebaum campuses in Bolivar, which amounts to the entire SBU main campus, cannot be sold or leased without the approval of the MBC Executive Board or the Convention in annual session.
Kenny Qualls, pastor, First Baptist Church, Arnold, preached the convention sermon. Eddie Bumpers, pastor, Crossway Baptist Church, Springfield, was elected to preach the 2013 convention sermon in Kansas City.
Ten members rotated off the MBC Executive Board. They are: Vic Borden, pastor, Red Bridge Baptist Church, Kansas City; Jesse Cass, retired pastor, Coffee Baptist Church; Larry Fackler, minister, Houston; Bill Johnson, pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Versailles; Tom Johnson, pastor, First Baptist Church, Fredericktown; Marshall Link, retired pastor, Brush Creek Baptist Church, Puxico; Denny Marr, minister of education and administration, Calvary Baptist Church, Republic; Justin Nelson, worship pastor, South Creek Church, Springfield; Steve Tanner, director of missions, Grand Crossings Baptist Association, Mexico; and Frank Welch, director of missions, Salt River Baptist Association, Bowling Green.
Fifteen members joined the board. Five were re-elected to three-year terms. Those five are: Doug Clinton, pastor, First Baptist Church, Senath; Menk Ferguson, senior adult pastor, First Baptist Church, Arnold; Larry Gibson, pastor, Fellowship Baptist Church, Kirksville; Doug Schildknecht, pastor, First Baptist Church, Buckner; and Monte Shinkle, pastor, Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City. The 10 new members are: Keith Barnhart, pastor, Edgewood Baptist Church, Bowling Green; Stephen Dennis, retired minister, First Baptist Church, Trenton; Donny Ford, pastor, First Baptist Church, Oran; Terry Gentry, pastor, Oliver Point Baptist Church, Preston; Daniel Hale, pastor, First Baptist Church, Millersville; Terry Kendrick, pastor, Hopedale Baptist Church, Ozark; Tom Maples, pastor, First Southern Baptist Church, Ava; Glenn Scott, pastor, First Baptist Church, Tarkio; David Zink, pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church, Springfield; and Darrell Payne, layman, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Sedalia.
The MBC Executive Board now consists of 44 members and 4 officers for a total of 48 voting positions.
Future annual meeting sites will be: Oct. 28-30, 2013, at the downtown Sheraton Hotel, Kansas City; Oct. 27-29, 2014, at Tan-Tar-A Resort, Osage Beach; and Oct. 26-28, 2015, at University Place & Expo Center, Springfield.
In other business, messengers:
• Chose a new convention site, St. Charles, for 2016 in voting for an Oct. 24-26 annual meeting at the St. Charles Convention Center & Embassy Suites Hotel;
• Got acquainted with a pair of new leaders and listened to the initial convention reports from Anthony Allen, the new president of Hannibal-LaGrange University, and Jason Allen, the new president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City;
• Set goals for various offerings including $4 million for Lottie Moon, $1.75 for Annie Armstrong, $250,000 for World Hunger, and $700,000 for Missouri Mission Offering.
• Became familiar with the status of a new Disaster Relief (DR) headquarters, archive storage facility and alternate training center located about 13 miles from the Baptist Building in Jefferson City. This building sits on 10 acres of property and includes 14,000 square feet of warehouse space. It is intended to replace the existing DR center at Marshall.