177th Annual Meeting of the Baptist Convention of MD/DE
By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
SILVER SPRING, Md.—The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware kicked off its annual meeting on an historic day—Nov. 11, Veterans Day. The meeting also became historic for BCM/D. Following his annual address, BCM/D Executive Director David Lee surprised messengers by announcing his retirement effective July 31, 2013. The news brought many to tears, but Lee encouraged listeners, saying he is “at peace” with the decision.
“We Can’t Stop” was the theme for the 177th annual meeting at Global Mission Church, Silver Spring. It was based on Acts 4 and the account of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin and their response to being ordered to refrain from speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus. “But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:19-20).
Two hundred sixty messengers and 96 visitors attended and included the largest number of language church members ever represented at the BCM/D annual meeting.
Messengers elected Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church, as BCM/D president and re-elected Ron Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church, Havre de Grace, as first vice president and Andrew Bell, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, as second vice-president.
In addition, messengers made a Bylaw change and voted to reaffirm the biblical definition of marriage.
In addition to the business/worship sessions, messengers could choose from a variety of brunches and breakout sessions throughout the meeting. A highlight of the event was an international dinner featuring American, Chinese, Haitian, Hispanic, Korean and Nepalese foods. These church members spent days preparing for the event. Leftovers were sent to a local mission.
BCM/D President Ken Stalls officially called the meeting to order, welcoming messengers and guests.
The Global Mission Church worship center was packed as Shani Carter, worship director of Grace Life Church, Baltimore, and the church’s praise team led the opening music. In addition, groups from Burmese, Chinese, Haitian, Kenyan, Korean and Nepalese churches shared hymns and praise music in their native languages.
Robert Kim, BCM/D Asian church planting missionary, told messengers that BCM/D hosts two language ministry events each year: a Palm Sunday music festival and a concert of prayer in the fall.
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, spoke on the theme, “We Can’t Stop Speaking.”
“We can’t stop speaking about what the gospel can do and how it can radically change someone’s life,” Ezell told messengers and guests.
Dave Burt, LifeWay consultant, presented Ken Stalls with a Bible from LifeWay.
Messengers watched a “God Sightings” video featuring South End Baptist Church and their ministry with the “Convoy of Hope” in Frederick. The videos shown throughout the meeting were sent in by churches in response to a request to submit “God sightings” in their areas of ministry.
Monday afternoon session
A praise team comprised of BCM/D worship leaders throughout the convention led worship singing, “Come Thou Fount,” “All Because of Jesus,” and “Hear Us From Heaven.”
Vaughn Walker, senior pastor of First Gethsemane Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., spoke on “We Can’t Stop Serving,” and shared a sermon titled, “A Compelling Desire,” based on Luke 18:35-19:26.
“What motivates a person to serve God, and not only to begin, but to get to a place where we say, ‘We can’t stop praising his name?’” Walker asked.
He gave three reasons: When we see others enthusiastically serving, when we see others who are unlikely candidates who are enthusiastically serving the Lord, and when we comprehend the urgency that God has placed on us to serve because the Lord is coming back.
Global Mission Church’s praise team led in congregational singing with “Amazing Grace” and “Nothing But the Blood” to begin the Monday evening session.
Dennis Kim, pastor of Global Mission Church, speaking on the theme, “We Can’t Stop Praying,” told messengers, “All the days I’ve been here in America I praise the Lord for you.
“Korean Christians learned to pray from Western missionaries,” Kim said. At Global Mission Church, prayer is a priority. Kim said prayer warriors are praying at 5:30 in the morning Monday through Saturday. God has and is blessing Global Mission Church, which now has eight services.
In the first election of officers, messengers unanimously elected Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church, as BCM/D president. Anderson has served as pastor of Colonial Baptist Church for 17 years. He has also served with the BCM/D General Mission Board, with the Baltimore Baptist Association and on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee pursuing racial reconciliation.
Following a video presentation introducing Embrace Silver Spring, Michael Mattar, pastor of Hope Fellowship Church, Sterling, Va., told messengers, “Ninety-three percent of the people are lost. The only way to reach them is to get on our knees and ask what God is calling us to do. I come here to challenge all of us to shed tears for the lostness in Silver Spring, as we work together to start churches, as we work together as a convention and as associations, to plant and strengthen churches.”
Concert pianist and Riva Trace Church Worship Pastor Bill Bloomquist played “Shall We Gather at the River” on the piano for the offertory.
The offering will be used to support Embrace Silver Spring.
Mary Ann Bloomquist, a member of Riva Trace Church, Davidsonville, sang a special presentation of “Blessings,” prior to the executive director’s address.
Executive Director’s Address
David Lee, presenting the Executive Director’s address, spoke of “Remnant Living.” Lee read Daniel 1:1-21 and 3:1-30.
He referred to the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Lee warned messengers that the church may indeed be moving towards a world similar to the first century where Christians may be facing lions’ dens or fiery furnaces.
Lee said he’s seen the church transition from being highly respected, to the hippy era where all institutions were under the microscope. He’s seen the church growth and missional church movements, but despite those upswings, Lee said he’s seen a creeping irrelevance and even a move to a world similar to the first century.
“I am concerned that we may not be far from living in a strange land that we will no longer recognize. We may be about to experience ‘Daniel World,’ an exile of sorts, where our freedoms will be limited. Following Christ will have a price tag.
“It’s so critical that you and I join hands and hearts together. And we’re going to need leaders to step up and keep it together. Because what is in front of us is going to require the very best in all of us,” Lee said. (For more, see Lee’s transcript, beginning on page 3.)
David Lee’s retirement announcement and testimony
“I’ve lived a blessed life,” Lee shared. “God changed my life at age 15. He came into my life and it has made all the difference in the world.”
Lee said he has been given the privilege of standing in many pulpits preaching the gospel and in many of those places be called pastor.
“My life in ministry has not always been easy; but I can stand here and tell you, God has always been faithful.
“It has been such a privilege to serve you and to serve with you. When I came here, I was given specific tasks by God. I’m convinced that that assignment has been completed. I am at peace in announcing to you that I am retiring as executive director of this wonderful convention, effective July 31, 2013. I also am convinced that God uses the platoon system. We are at a good place as a state convention of churches, but I believe it is time for me to step aside and for someone else to assume this role.
The next leader will have a different gift mix to serve you as a new chapter begins in the life of this convention. I announce it tonight because I want to allow the leaders to have ample time to begin a search process for your next leader. Together we will pray and seek God’s direction, but the one thing we cannot do is stop speaking about what we have heard and stop serving in the name of Jesus and stop praying and stop loving and stop pursuing those who so desperately need to hear the gospel.
“I want to thank you, it has been a privilege and opportunity to serve you. I want to say thank you to our staff. There is no better staff anywhere in the Southern Baptist Convention. I think you’ve witnessed that even at this meeting. Sherry and I want to let you know we love you so very much. What a privilege that God has given to us to walk in places that are absolutely beyond imagination.
“We’ll do this together. I am at peace. I hope you’ll be at peace and I hope we’ll join our hearts together as we look forward to what God is going to do next.”
Del Morgan, worship pastor of The Church at Covenant Park, Columbia, Md., opened the well-attended final session of the meeting with a heartily sung “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
Ken Stalls presented the annual President’s Address. Stalls’ sermon was titled “Do you have the holy ‘can’t help its?’” Stalls said in counseling situations, many people with a variety of disorders will say, ‘I knew I shouldn’t have done it, but I just can’t help it.’ Why can’t we have some holy ‘can’t help its?’”
“…Hear the word of God and indeed refuse to stop talking about Jesus Christ tell others and just watch our world and see what happens,” Stalls said.
Stalls read from Acts. 4:1-20. When told to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, Peter and John reply, “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 1:20). “That’s the holy ‘can’t help it,’” Stalls said.
Messengers approved a change to the BCM/D Bylaws—an addition to Article II—Committees and Their Duties. The addition allows the president, in the event of a vacancy between annual meetings, to “appoint members to fill that vacancy as an interim until approval at the next Annual Meeting. This would apply to all BCM/D committees.
They also unanimously approved a $6.1 million BCM/D budget and a $1.9 million Skycroft Conference Center budget.
Messengers unanimously re-elected Ron Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church, Havre de Grace, as first vice-president and Andrew Bell as second vice-president.
Harold Phillips, senior pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church, Port Deposit, Md., introduced a statement to reaffirm the 2011 resolution on traditional marriage, which messengers approved.
There were no nominations for the positions of recording secretary and assistant recording secretary; therefore, based on the constitutional amendment passed earlier in the business sessions, the new president will appoint officers to fulfill the vacancies.
David Lee welcomed new pastors and staff to the convention and recognized BCM/D staff celebrating milestones. Lee recognized ministry assistants, Gail Noda and Donna Shiflett. Noda has served the convention for 15 years and Shiflett for ten years.
Debbie Marini, interim executive director, reported for Baptist Family & Children’s Services. Marini told about Safe Families, a movement of hundreds of families, with the support of their churches, to provide biblical Christian hospitality to families going through crisis situations. Marini showed a video testimony of the Donnellan family who became part of Safe Families and how the experience blessed them and those around them.
Cathy Donnellan spoke after the video and urged messengers to “step outside of your comfort zone.”
John Schoff, representing The Baptist Foundation, presented a check for $137,882.54 to David Lee for the BCM/D to use for starting and strengthening churches. Funds were derived from interest on loans provided to churches.
Gayla Parker, BCM/D Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) executive director and Darline Ballou, WMU president, shared the WMU presentation. Following a video about “Breathless,” the annual women’s conference, Ballou said the WMU has a new tagline “Missions for Life.”
Parker shared a story about 12-year old who attended girls’ camp. The girl began asking questions about being a Christian and when Parker began talking with her, she found that the girl did not know who Jesus was and she had never seen a Bible in “real life.” Parker shared Christ with the young girl, who asked Jesus to come into her life.
“We can’t stop sharing,” Parker said.
Phil Respass, minister of worship and music, Friendship Baptist Church, Sykesville, Md., led the final time of congregational singing, with “Holy is the Lord,” “The Stand,” and “Standing on the Promises.”
Chuck Lawless, dean of graduate studies for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke on the theme, “We Can’t Stop Pursuing,” and shared a message titled, “The Anonymity of Pursuit.”
Lawless read John the Baptist’s comments in Mark 1:7, “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.”
“When’s the last time you were so amazed by Jesus, that you stopped wherever you are in your spiritual journey? I don’t care how long you’ve served the church. You just had to stop and say—who is this? See, when we don’t have those moments, we lose our wonder.
“It’s one of the reasons God puts us in the boat that’s going into the storm. It’s in the storm we find out just how mighty the Son of God is.”
The meeting concluded with a video presentation titled “We Can’t Stop,” showing BCM/D pastors, staff and lay leaders ministering throughout Maryland and Delaware. Each ministered in their own area, then put the “pieces” together to show how we must work together and we can’t stop.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 10-12, 2013, at Ogletown Baptist Church, Newark, Del.