SPRINGFIELD – Missouri Baptist messengers elected a more ethnically diverse slate of convention officers and approved a resolution encouraging racial reconciliation during their 184th annual meeting at Crossway Baptist Church, Springfield, Oct. 22-23.
Although this year’s meeting was shortened to only two days, attendance rose slightly this year, as compared to the previous two years. A total of 1,042 messengers and 184 visitors from 451 churches gathered in Springfield.
Jon Nelson was elected as the MBC’s First Vice President. He is believed to be the convention’s first black officer. Nelson is an MBC church planter and pastor of Soma Community Church, located near the campus of the historically black Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
Other new officers include: President Jeremy Muniz, pastor of First Baptist, De Soto, who previously served as First Vice President; Second Vice President Jeff Anderson, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Hannibal; and Recording Secretary Chad Hodges, pastor of First Baptist Church, Wright City.
Additionally, Missouri Baptists overwhelmingly approved a resolution encouraging racial reconciliation and urging “the Missouri Legislature to formally denounce” the Missouri Supreme Court’s 1852 Dred Scott Decision, which denied legal personhood to Dred Scott because of his race.
During his annual address, MBC President Ken Parker called Missouri Baptists to take the lead in racial reconciliation both in the state and across the nation.
“If racial reconciliation is going to happen,” Parker asked, “do you know who is going to have to lead the charge? Christians. The world is not going to fix that. We’ve got to break down barriers and listen to one another and love one another. … Do you know who is going to make a difference about race in Missouri? Missouri Christians. How about Missouri Baptists?”
Speaking on the annual meeting’s theme, “Steady,” Parker told messengers and guests that conflict would certainly arise as churches labor to make disciples and multiply churches across the state and around the globe.
“Obstacles and attacks will come,” Parker said, “even when we’re fulfilling our God-given destiny.”
Indeed, obstacles came to God’s people in Exodus 17:8-16, when they were attacked by the Amalekites. But, as God so often does, he used “people to fight the battles,” Parker said. In this case, God commanded Moses to stand on a hill overlooking the battle and raise his arms, with his staff in his hand. As long as his hands were lifted, the Israelites would succeed in battle. But, as is common with men and women of God, he couldn’t fulfill the task alone. After some time, Moses grew weary, and two men – Aaron and Hur – came to his aid. They stood on each side of him, holding his hands “steady until the sun went down” (vs. 12).
“Sometimes we just need a little help to remain steady,” Parker said, and there isn’t any shame in this. “Having others help is not a sign of weakness, but of humanity.”
Likewise, in his address to messengers, MBC Executive Director John Yeats reminded Missouri Baptists of the gospel foundation that would allow them to remain steady in ministry.
“If you find yourself in a place of ministry where you sense you are stuck in the muddy clay, then consider afresh that the Lord is your solid rock,” Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director John Yeats said in his address to the convention. “Let’s agree that it is the gospel that changes lives, not all the popular propositions that want to attach themselves to the church.”
2019 CP goal approved
During the business session of their meeting, Missouri Baptists decided to set the 2019 Cooperative Program goal at $15 million, allocating 40 percent to Southern Baptist Convention ministries and 60 percent to Missouri Baptist ministries.
Messengers also approved the Executive Board’s recommendation that, in 2019, the Rheubin L. South Missouri Missions Offering goal be set at $715,000, that Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal be set at $4 million, that Annie Armstrong Easter Offering goal be set at $2 million, and that the World Hunger offering be set at $200,000.
MBCH governing documents approved
At the recommendation of the MBC Executive Board, messengers also approved an amended version of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home’s (MBCH) Articles of Incorporation and received the MBCH’s amended Bylaws. These approved amendments brought the MBCH’s governing documents into line with the MBC’s revised governing documents, which messengers approved during their annual meeting in 2017.
Special offering blesses Freeway Ministries
Also, messengers approved a special offering, collected on Oct. 23, to benefit the Freeway Ministries, a ministry founded in 2011 by Crossway Baptist Church members John Stroup, Mike Aye and Rick Lechner to help Baptist churches reach out to ex-cons, drug addicts and the homeless. Since its founding, Freeway Ministries has partnered with churches across Missouri; in Omaha, Neb.; and in Cape Town, South Africa.
Nine resolutions approved
Missouri Baptists approved nine resolutions, including the resolution encouraging racial reconciliation. In one resolution, messengers called Christian leaders in both church and state to live in “holiness and integrity,” and in another they celebrated “normative sized churches” – that is, the 89 percent of Missouri Baptist churches that run 200 or less in attendance each Sunday.
They also addressed issues such as the “public health crisis” of pornography; the “prohibition of legalizing sports gambling”; the potential legalization of marijuana through state ballot measures; and the problem of gun violence.
In a final resolution, messengers rebuffed the message of the “Revoice Conference,” which was held in St. Louis this summer and which “taught that believers can have both a Christian identity and a ‘LGBT’ or ‘gay’ identity.” In response, the resolution called Missouri Baptists to “deny the validity of a ‘gay Christian’ identity.’”
Guest speakers welcomed
Missouri Baptists welcomed a variety of guest speakers during their meeting. Speakers included Darryl Gaddy, pastor of Victory Fellowship Community Church in Detroit, Mich.; Herb Reavis, Jr., pastor of North Jacksonville (Fla.) Baptist Church; Ken Graves, founding pastor of Calvary Chapel Bangor in Central Maine; and Ken Sande, president of RW360 and founder of Peacemaker Ministries. To listen to the various sermons and addresses presented at the 2018 MBC annual meeting, visit https://mobaptist.org/annual-meeting/videos.
2019 annual meeting
The 2019 annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention is scheduled for Oct. 28-30 at the Branson Convention Center in Branson.