Posted on : Thursday December 20, 2018

By Sharon Mager

COLUMBIA, Md.— Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) Executive Director Kevin Smith, looking ahead to 2019, emphasized Baptist identity, serving churches in transition and a new partnership in Kenya at the Dec. 4 BCM/D General Mission Board meeting at the Baptist Center.

Dr.Kevin Smith and Tom Stolle address new GMB Board members

Bryan Patrick, minister of music, First Baptist Church, of Laurel, Md., led a time of singing Christmas carols.

GMB President Frank Duncan welcomed all and recognized each of the new members.

Report from Executive Director

Looking over the new board, BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith said he was thankful to see the diversity. “I see people who are happy about their first grandchild and then I see people who are happy about their first child.”

He also noted the mix of pastors — bi-vocational, fulltime, multiple staff and single staff, directors of missions, and lay leaders.

“I like a mixed crowd,” he said with a smile.

After reiterating the BCM/D mission since 1863 — to plant and strengthen churches — Smith said his initial emphasis when he came to the BCM/D in 2016 was to strengthen the convention’s relationship with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and to “sharpen” the way the BCM/D plants churches.

Smith, referring to BCM/D’s State Missions Director Michael Crawford’s November 2018 annual meeting report, said church planting is stronger than ever.

Dr. Kevin Smith addresses the GMB

“I think NAMB is in a good place of giving priority to the distinction between quantity and quality, and I think that distinction matters,” Smith said, emphasizing the need to not only plant churches, but to consider how many are still in existence, baptizing believers and making disciples several years later.

He emphasized the continued need for strong indigenous church planting churches. “When we say, ‘churches plant churches’ we mean it,” he said.

Smith said churches are more “contextually fruitful” if the majority of the planters come from Maryland/Delaware churches, or if the planters have spent significant time as interns or residents before starting a church. They also need an understanding of the context of where they’re seeking to plant and have the knowledge of and the prayer support of the broader BCM/D family. “We are excited and thankful about the way things are going,” he said.

He acknowledged that some areas that are “underserved” in Maryland and Delaware, and said the convention is working hard to address those areas. He noted, “When I say “underserved,” …don’t just think geographically, also think linguistically.

Smith said historically, since the immigration laws changed in the ’60s and ’70s, there are many non-English speaking churches where the leadership is shifting generationally, and there are significant challenges regarding first, second and third generation issues.

New GMB members stand to be recognized

We’re going to try to serve and build up pastors concerning transitional leadership, he said, noting that intergenerational changes in leadership also involve cultural elements. He encouraged GMB members to pray for those churches dealing with generational leadership changes.

“We want to serve churches in transition,” he said, including those dealing with their pastor’s retirement. Smith said over the next few years he anticipates a steady flow of retirements, adding that the convention wants to be a trusted partner, coming alongside the transitioning pastors and the congregations.

Smith also emphasized the continuing need to develop leaders and strengthen internships. Partnering with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the convention seeks to create a network of churches with unused mission houses or vacant parsonages to house interns. Some interns will be students who will receive credit for their time of service at the church, others will be students that need a break from seminary, and some will be graduates seeking ministry experience.

Asked about how this emphasis is progressing, Smith said nine churches want to participate and have mission houses or parsonages and another six want to participate, and they would secure housing for an intern.

BCM/D President Harold Phillips and GMB Recording Secretary Iris White consult.

Regarding church services, Smith emphasized the convention’s role of strengthening and building up churches.

The International Mission Board emphasizes international missions; the North American Mission Board emphasizes church planting. Conventions strengthen and build up churches, he said. Smith emphasized pastoral support, church ministry support and outreach.

He recognized new staff: Mark Dooley, pastor of Leonardtown Baptist Church, who will join the staff as State Director of Evangelism on Jan. 1, 2019; John Gauger and Mike Trammell, both retired pastors, serving as church consultants; and Reginald Davis who joined the staff as Creative Director, overseeing communications and creativity.

Smith said he wants to emphasize communicating and educating churches about the Cooperative Program (CP). He said there are many churches that don’t understand the purpose of the Cooperative Program, and how the BCM/D serves the churches. “The generation of institutional loyalty is passing,” Smith said. A young engineer tithing $20,000 to a church wants to know why the church is giving a portion to CP. He has to understand why that makes sense, Smith said.

“A lot of that is education and communication. I’m very confident in what we do as far as breadth and efficiency,” he shared.

Smith explained that as other churches ask to affiliate with the BCM/D, he lets them know about the Baptist Faith and Message and about the Cooperative Program. “We’re honest about who we are,” he said. Smith commended Randall Blackmon, chair of the Affiliations Committee for his work in that area.

He excitedly shared about the new partnership with the Kisii Regional Baptist Convention through 2021, part of the Baptist Convention of Kenya, the western part of the country by Lake Victoria. Smith said that would allow mission teams to reach out to support Christians from Tanzania and Sudan. Many pastors are already interested in planning trips, he said.

Financial Report

GMB members sing Christmas carols led Bryan Patrick

BCM/D Associate Executive Director Tom Stolle, sharing the financial report said, “I am so thankful for how the Lord continues to bless what we’re doing.” Stolle said he knows that many pastors look at giving through the year and see it that it isn’t where it should be, but then at the end of the year they realize God has met the needs and proven Himself faithful. “Isn’t that amazing? We continue to experience that as well,” he said.

Stolle reported Cooperative Program (CP) receipts for the 10 months ended Oct 31, 2018, totaled $2,846,501.69,

representing ($133,509.27) or (4.5 percent) below the 10 months ended Oct. 31, 2017. Based on current year trends, management expects CP receipts to total approximately $3,450,000. “All major expense categories are within budget,” Stolle said.

Reporting the “bottom line,” he said, “Through Oct. 31, 2018, receipts have exceeded disbursements by $47,486.26. Although CP is running below budget expectations and we are still working on developing financial partnerships with southern state conventions, we continue to benefit from a positive bottom line due to expense savings.”

Stolle said the staff has been careful, observing his exhortation to, “do good ministry but don’t spend if you don’t have to. Stewardship is a vital function,” he said.

GMB President Frank Duncan addresses the GMB

“We have benefitted from staff vacancies, lower than expected benefits costs and staff that has prudently managed their assigned ministries. Management expects that we will break even at year end, assuming CP receipts continue to run at current levels.”

Regarding State Missions Offering (SMO), Stolle gave the following report:

“In 2018, affiliated churches contributed $156,244.68 in SMO contributions to fund 2019 expenses, including the following initiatives: church planting, collegiate, special needs, Skycroft evangelism and disaster relief.

Stolle said some “great work” had been done this year on these in these initiatives. He recognized Ellen Udovich, Church Services/Community Engagement Consultant. “Through the SMO, Udovich and her team have been able to serve people in

Ellicott City in six different venues due to flooding. We’re so thankful for what’s happening in disaster relief. Even if we don’t have ‘boots on the ground,’ to be able to send funds out to help other teams deal with victims of natural disasters such as hurricanes and the fires in California does show our love.

Year-to-date, $107,004.28 has been spent in support of these ministries.

Turning to the Skycroft budget, Stolle reported that through the ten months ended Oct. 31, 2018, receipts totaled $2,092,324.82. Receipts have been received at a level approximated by management.

Staff benefit savings have been offset by budget overages in food costs and guest services.

Reporting the “bottom line,” Stolle said management believes breaking even at year end is a possibility. “November and December present challenges as the facility experiences vacancies, affecting profitability.” Stolle said staff would try to limit expenses during this “lower demand” season.

Tom Stolle

Finally, Stolle reported, “The BCM/D is in a good ready cash position, with its bills paid in full and on time.

Baptist Foundation

Stolle, reporting for the Baptist Foundation on behalf of Foundation President Carl Tilghman, said the foundation currently manages assets of approximately $11.6 million, including $8.5 million in endowment funds, and $3.1 million in church loan funds. Significant growth in the amount of managed assets has occurred from $3.8 million in 1991.

Stolle reminded members that the Foundation provides financial stewardship training and manages endowment funds for churches and associations. Even those with modest investment needs may take advantage of the same discounts offered to multi-million-dollar investors.

The Foundation also provides education to churches, highlighting faithful stewardship as well as offering various options to give financially to the Lord’s work both in life and death. For more information, visit the Foundation website.

President’s Address

BCM/D President Harold Phillips addresses the General Mission Board

Giving his first address to the GMB board as BCM/D president, Harold Phillips shared from Revelation 12:11, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

Challenging leaders, he said, “This is important work we do as pastors.” He encouraged them to birth souls into the Kingdom, train them to tell their stories and bring them to the point of being willing to give their lives for Jesus. Phillips referred to the worldwide persecuted church and the many who are in prison, and dying for their faith.

Praying, Phillips said, “Help us to be great leaders. We want to lead people to be powerful warriors for your sake.”