Posted on : Monday December 2, 2013

(From left to right): The following officers were elected during BCM/D’s Nov. 10-12 annual meeting: David Gaines, pastor of Manna Bible Baptist Church, Baltimore, recording secretary; Randall Blackmon, pastor of Faith Fellowship Church, Cambridge, second vice-president; Robert Anderson, senior pastor of Colonial Baptist Church, president; Stephen Hokuf, pastor of First Baptist Church of North East, first vice-president; and Aaron Stewart, minister of music at Towne Baptist Church, Joppa, assistant recording secretary.

By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent

NEWARK, Del.—The 178th meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, Nov. 10-12, was held at Ogletown Baptist Church. Messengers re-elected Robert Anderson, senior pastor of Colonial Baptist Church, as BCM/D president. They elected Stephen Hokuf, pastor of First Baptist Church of North East, as first vice-president; Randall Blackmon, pastor of Faith Fellowship Church, Cambridge, as second vice-president; David Gaines, pastor of Manna Bible Baptist Church, Baltimore, as recording secretary and Aaron Stewart, minister of music at Towne Baptist Church, Joppa, as assistant recording secretary.

This year’s meeting featured guest speakers James Merritt, senior pastor of Cross Pointe Church, Duluth, Ga., and former Southern Baptist Convention president; A.B. Vines, senior pastor of New Seasons Church, Spring Valley, Ca.; Robert Anderson;Jose Nater, senior pastor, Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana, Cambridge; and BCM/D’s new Executive Missional Strategist, Will McRaney.

Denominational leaders, ministers and lay-leaders laughed, cried, hugged old friends and met new ones at ministry brunches, dinners and specialized breakout sessions intended to equip, educate and encourage church leaders at all levels.

Messengers approved a combined BCM/D and Skycroft budget of $8,088,057. They voted to release Baptist Family & Children’s Services as a BCM/D agency, approved the intent to sell property in St. Mary’s County and approved adding content to the Constitution and By-Laws regarding the convention’s definition of marriage as delineated in Scripture and the convention’s stance on the use of convention property for use in solemnizing any same-sex marriage. Messengers also approved a resolution to encourage churches to affirm that children are a gift from God, to protect them from abuse and to help those who have been abused.

Sunday Session

Sunday’s session opened with the BCM/D praise team, led by worship ministers throughout the convention. Del Morgan, pastor of worship ministries at The Church at Covenant Park, led a special presentation, “Through the eyes of a Child,” featuring a musical black light puppet skit. Morgan sang a song of the same name.

The skit featured Morgan and Ferrell Marr. Marr portrayed a man who had grown cynical through years of ministry. As the two work together as painters, Morgan puts his brush down and confides his frustration and struggles with his friend.

“In the journey to adulthood, we often lose the wonder that comes naturally to a child,” Morgan told Marr. “God hasn’t changed a bit since we were kids. We got busy with the everyday stuff and lost track of our focus in life.” Morgan shares that Marr must see Jesus in that simple trusting child-like manner.

To illustrate, Morgan snaps his fingers and music plays. As Morgan paints with neon colors, the “paintings” come to life and dance across the stage as flowers, rainbows and other blessings in life appear. Rachel Morgan and the Oak Grove Baptist Church children’s choir participated in the program.

James Merritt brought the Sunday evening message. He said, Jesus lived only 33 years and only three of those years were “measured.” Jesus did more in those three years than anyone has ever done, Merritt told messengers.

Merritt referenced Luke 5. How could a carpenter tell a professional fisherman where to catch more fish than any fisherman in history? Because Jesus made the lake.

There’s a difference between fishing and catching fish, Merritt said. The real fisherman knows where the fish are.

The United States is dealing with a missing person epidemic. Every hour, adults and children will go missing. Nine hundred thousand people in a year vanish. That’s why the “America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response” (AMBER) Alert was established.

“God has an AMBER Alert for every lost person on this planet,” Merritt said.

Robert Anderson closed the evening in prayer.

Monday Session

Monday morning’s activities began with a variety of brunches for pastors, ministers, ministers’ wives and lay leaders, followed by a Crossover Baltimore lunch, and over 20 breakout sessions over a three-hour period.

The BCM/D praise band led worship Monday evening. A.B. Vines, senior pastor of New Seasons Church, Spring Valley, Ca., encouraged listeners to join in with their “Amens.”

“I don’t want to preach to the ‘chosen frozen,’” Vines laughed.

Vines shared Matt. 6:24-27. “Worry is a costly consequence of choosing self,” Vines said. When pastors get together, Vines said they generally ask each other how their churches are doing numerically. “How about asking, ‘Where is Jesus moving in your ministries this year?” Vines said. “Preachers, stop stressing about numbers, deacon boards…let God be God and do your part.”

Vines said churches often put their faith in programs and schemes. “We forget God can do it all by Himself.”

During the business session, messengers re-elected Robert Anderson as BCM/D president.

Anderson shared his heart for supporting hunger ministry. October 2 was Hunger Sunday, and Anderson thanked churches for participating. “The needs are increasing, and I think we can do more,” he said.

Anderson showed a t-shirt that was being sold at the meeting to raise funds and awareness for hunger ministries. Messengers could purchase the shirts.

Sandy McRaney, wife of BCM/D Executive Missional Strategist Will McRaney, sang an acappella medley of “My Tribute” and “The Old Rugged Cross” before McRaney addressed messengers and guests.

McRaney quoted Psalm 78:2, “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”  McRaney said he, too, wants to lead with integrity of heart and with a skillful hand. “We exist to serve you,” McRaney said.

McRaney shared his evangelism emphasis: “The ultimate act of love is sharing Christ.”

He referred to Acts 3:1-10 and the account of Peter and John ministering to the lame beggar in the temple. How many times had they passed this man? McRaney said. How many people are we walking by and not even seeing?

McRaney said we must see the lost, engage them, prepare for them and connect them to Jesus and to other believers.

“If we’re not careful, we get tied up doing religious stuff and miss what we’re supposed to be doing in the first place,”
McRaney said.

“God give us fresh eyes, give us fresh hearts. Remove the cataracts from our eyes and help us to see people as you see them and to take the Gospel of Christ to them,” McRaney prayed.

Tuesday Session

Chris and Carrie Morris, worship leaders at Ogletown Baptist Church, led worship on Tuesday morning.

Jacqueline Anderson, wife of Robert Anderson, sang “It is Well With My Soul” before her husband shared the President’s Address.

Anderson used Luke 14, the passage about the great banquet. God was the host, but invited guests began giving excuses. They were busy with wealth, with work, with family.

God will not take excuses, Anderson said. “God does get angry. The Lord is angry at the wicked every day,” he said.

“There’s still room… the invitations are out. The banquet table is set. Dinner is being served. They won’t come unless we go out and invite them to come and sit at the table of the Lord Jesus.

“We have fellowship with God, then we go out and bring others to the banquet table,” Anderson said.

David Hall, senior pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, invited churches to continue to participate in Billy Graham’s “My Hope” initiative. Hall said 25 families at Oak Grove Church had “Matthew Parties,” inviting friends to view the presentation by Graham on national television. Several accepted Jesus as a result of the outreach.

It’s not too late to invite people in homes or churches to watch the DVD. For more information, contact Hall,, or Evangelism Missionary Ellen Udovich,


Messengers voted to release Baptist Family and Children’s Services (BFCS) from their status as a BCM/D agency and they voted to make the necessary change in the constitution, Article V11 Section 6.

General Mission Board President Kerry Hinton said the agency has been working to get their individual 501 3C status for several years.

“We are a non-profit, and like most non-profits, we are suffering financially,” Sandy Wehunt, BFCS board president, said. “When you have a parent organization, it is assumed the parent can provide all of the funding.”

Wehunt asked messengers to acknowledge the request and “join us to move ahead as God has called us to do.”

Harold Phillips, senior pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church, Port Deposit, expressed concerns, citing troubled times with families and the home. “Why do we want to relinquish this very valuable ministry we have had for 90 years?” Phillips asked how Bob Gerstmyer, former BFCS director would respond.

Gerstmyer replied that the convention has given approximately $22,000 a year for the past 15 to 20 years. While a generous amount, that still represents less than one percent of the annual operations budget. “I have mixed feelings about this. I am a Maryland/Delaware convention advocate and have been since 1969 when I began my ministry. From that perspective, it’s sad to see that happen. On the other hand, I understand why the agency is proceeding in this matter, and I would be supportive.”

Wehunt said the agency will still remain Baptist and anticipates functioning similar to CentrePoint Counseling. “We see this as a door opening and an opportunity to serve God in a more effective way.”

Messengers also voted to approve selling land held by the BCM/D in St. Mary’s County for a sale price of $450,000 and to allow the GMB to entertain a viable offer. An adjustment greater than a reduction of $50,000 in list price would be brought to the Administrative Committee for approval. Proceeds from the sale would be used to fund church wellness initiatives.

BCM/D Missionary Randy Millwood explained there are support streams for work in evangelism and church multiplication but little in church wellness. “This initiative speaks to implementing long-term turn around strategies for churches in plateau and decline,” Millwood said.

Messengers also voted to add content to Article II in the constitution regarding marriage:

This convention will subscribe to the tenants of the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) as adopted by the SBC, in its most recent form. In Article 18 of BFM when marriage is referred to, we believe that term “marriage” has only one meaning and that is marriage sanctioned by God which joins one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other. We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.

The following language was added to Article VII Section 6 from the constitution:
By-Laws – Avoidance of illegal action
No action of this Convention will be construed as authorizing its committees or related agencies to take any action that may be contrary to the law, unless such laws are contrary to the convention’s statement of faith. Specifically, the Convention will not solemnize any same-sex marriage or allow any Convention property or facilities to be used for the purpose of solemnizing or celebrating any same-sex marriage.

Will McRaney introduced BCM/D Missionaries Grace Schofield and Wendy Mindte then he welcomed new pastors and staff to the convention.


Baptist Family & Children’s Services’ Interim Director Debbie Marini thanked churches for their support and shared her passion for families and the agency’s commitment to grow as a Christian organization dealing with the attack on families. Marini said the work of BFCS is often like a fire company, running in to try to save people while everyone else is running out. “It’s messy. It’s dangerous. And sometimes the house burns down, and there’s nothing we can do.

“We recognize change can raise questions. God is the same yesterday, today and forever,” Marini said.

“James 1:27 says to care for widows and orphans. We are building the kingdom of God,” she said.

John Schoff, President of the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware, reported that the Foundation manages assets of almost $10.4 million. Through the church loan program, 21 BCM/D churches are being assisted with over $3.1 million in loans. The churches have favorable interest rates and low closing costs. The Foundation makes an annual distribution to BCM/D to start and strengthen churches.

Schoff presented a check to Will McRaney for $145,054.94.

Interim Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) Executive Director Melody Knox and newly elected WMU President Barbara Matney presented the WMU report.

Matney shared WMU is celebrating its 125th birthday. She told how a small group of women formed a group to work alongside the Southern Baptist Convention. One of those women was Annie Armstrong. Maryland/Delaware was one of the first sites to join and start WMU. “We have a rich heritage in missions and sharing the Gospel,” Matney said.

Knox shared WMU has seen successful ministries throughout the year including mother/daughter camps; Royal Ambassador camps, distribution of health kits; working with Samaritan Women to serve women escaping the traps of human trafficking; and women’s conferences, including “Breathless.”

Brian Sandifer, senior pastor, Potomac Heights Baptist Church, reported for the Resolution Committee. Messengers approved a resolution on the church and the abuse of children. The resolution refers to Psalm 127:3-5, that it is clear in its affirmation that children are a gift from God, that Jesus demonstrated His love for children; that sexual abuse remains an ever-increasing criminal offense and tragically, that instances of sexual abuse have been perpetrated within Southern Baptist congregations and churches of other denominations and other Christian ministries.

The resolution declares that messengers stand with Jesus in loving and protecting children and urges all Maryland/Delaware Baptists to employ every preventative tool at their disposal, including background checks, to discourage the existence of environments in which the exploitation of children can take place; to remind Maryland/Delaware Baptists of their legal and moral responsibility to report any accusations of child abuse to authorities; to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in exposing and bringing to justice all perpetrators, and to encourage pastors and church leaders to develop and implement sound policies and procedures to protect children.

The resolution also urges all Maryland/Delaware Baptist churches, associations and the convention and to pray for children who are victims of abuse, to stand for their protection, to support safe and healthy children’s ministries and communities and to provide supportive professional counseling and other resources that will assist in their recovery.

J.B. Hixson, academic trainer and conference speaker for Logos Bible Software shared that Logos is available to partner with churches and other organizations at conferences and special events at no cost.

Chris and Carrie Morris led the final song, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” before Jose Nater presented his message.

Nater is a bi-vocational church planter who started three churches in seven years. He was selected as one of six missionaries who will be highlighted by the North American Mission Board in 2014.

Nater compared the annual meeting to a movie and his presentation time to the finale just before the closing credits.

“It’s where the villain gets what he deserves or the hero gets to kiss the girl. It’s a moment of change,” Nater said. The ending can be just that, an ending, or there can be a sequel.

Nater shared the end of Luke, 24:53, “And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” But there’s a sequel. In Acts, the Holy Spirit arrives.

“Do we have the same power? Yes! Are we using it?” Nater asked. “I would like our last verse to be like this: … ‘and that is how the true followers went to their neighborhoods, their cities, their nations, proclaiming to all that needed to hear it. Then Jesus returned.’”