By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) Executive Director David Lee proclaimed 2010 as the “Year of Relationships” at the Dec. 8 General Mission Board (GMB) meeting at the Baptist Mission Resource Center.
Bob Simpson, BCM/D associate executive director, led GMB members in singing Christmas carols. Lee and Byron Day, BCM/D president, welcomed members. Kerry Hinton, on behalf of the nominating committee introduced David Sandvick, pastor of First English Church, Frostburg, as the new president of the General Mission Board.
Sandvick reminisced about Christmas in 1965. He was seven-years old. The family had an electric train set that ran around the Christmas tree. Sandvick fondly recalled laying by the tree watching the train and playing with a little Santa and some elves.
“I believe that was the time I grasped what Christmas was all about,” Sandvick said. He began understanding that Christmas was about giving.
Each GMB member brings different gifts, skills and abilities to lay at the feet of Jesus and say God this is yours in whatever way and however you can use this. That’s why we’re here, Sandvick said. He told GMB members that he thinks of the BCM/D as a Christmas tree and underneath are 500 churches. We have the ability to run that train around and make a difference, he said.
Executive Director’s Report
BCM/D Executive Director David Lee reiterated the BCM/D’s mission statement, to intentionally assist in starting and strengthening congregations so that together we can accomplish the Great Commission as given to us in Matt. 28:19-20 and in Acts 1:8.
“I report to you today that we remain on mission and that we have seen significant progress in all five areas of our strategy during 2009,” Lee said, referring to the five strategic initiatives: Church Multiplication; Church Services, Leadership Development and Support; Acts 1:8 Missions Involvement and Resource Development.
Lee reflected on 2009. He said it was a “near record” year in church multiplication. He reported another successful year of partnering with the North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, SBC seminaries and local associations to provide human and financial resources to enable the convention to impact the area for Jesus. In addition, in 2009, BCM/D staff provided some level of service to at least 80 percent of affiliated churches.
“All of this has taken place during a time of significant economic challenges,” Lee told members.
Lee said BCM/D is successful in its mission by giving priority to things that matter most. He expressed thankfulness to partnering churches who have continued their faithful investments in the cooperative mission effort. He said he knows some churches are giving sacrificially. Lee noted also that some larger churches that don’t need as many BCM/D resources continue to give to provide the infrastructure to help smaller membership churches accomplish their missions.
“It is such a wonderful thing to see that partnership at work,” Lee commented. He told members that he recently received an email from Vicki Stewart, collegiate evangelism missionary at Morgan State University Stewart reported that in one of her small groups eight of her students prayed to invite Jesus into their lives.
“Your church was a part of that,” Lee said, referring to Cooperative Program (CP) giving.
Regarding open staff positions, Lee reported that there are potential candidates for the adult and student evangelism position and for the Naval Academy position; several names have surfaced in a preliminary search to fill a position as associate missionary for ministry evangelism to work closely with Ellen Udovich. There is a new position available for a missionary for African-American Church Planting and evangelism. These positions are North American Mission Board-related and/or partially funded.
Other open positions include a vacancy left by Conrad Burch in the area of planned giving. A recommendation for a person to fill this vacancy is forthcoming. There is also a one-day contract position to assist Rolando Castro in the language missions area.
The church ministers relations position is on hold due to budget constraints. Lee said those responsibilities are being handled internally.
Regarding the upcoming sale of a portion of the Baptist Mission Resource Center, Lee said there is a signed contract and closing is planned for early 2010. Meanwhile, renovations are ongoing in and around the center.
“Pray for our staff as we seek to make the necessary transitions and live with the dust,” Lee said, adding with a smile, when we say pardon our dust we mean it.”
“The next time you visit us we trust you will find everything bright and clean and in use for the work of God’s kingdom,” Lee said.
Looking ahead, Lee said, “We continue our focus on the need of our urban areas within Maryland/Delaware. The Strategic Focus City/Embrace Baltimore effort is officially completed. We will continue to work with the Baltimore Association in ministry to the churches in the Greater Baltimore Area. We will also continue to work alongside Baptist Family and Children’s Services, Open Door Community Development Corporation and other Baltimore partners in seeking to meet the growing need in that city. We now shift our attention and additional resources to Embrace Wilmington,” he said.
“I stood here one year ago and declared 2009 ‘A Year of Listening.’ I stated that we wanted to hear your heart concerning where we are and where we need to go as Maryland/Delaware Baptists. We have listened. We have heard many things, but what you shouted out to us was your desire for a greater emphasis and focus on our building relationships.”
Lee said 2010 will be the “Year of Relationships” and the BCM/D emphasis will be on full mobilization of ministry staff across the Maryland/Delaware area with assignments to expand direct connect with our churches and church leaders. There will also be an emphasis on BCM/D churches partnering with one another. “My dream would be that each BCM/D church would have a sister congregation to which they are connected at the heart,” Lee said. He told members he envisions churches praying for each other, doing things together, pulpit swapping and other ministry partnering.
“I will take the lead in making our priority spending time with you, helping you to accomplish the mission God has given to you,” Lee told members.
We are known as people of the Book, but the next thing we’re known for is partnering together in missions, Lee said.
“2009 is almost history. We will soon ring in 2010 with all of its challenges, uncertainties and opportunities. God has proven to us in the past that he will guide us and meet our needs. I have no reason to doubt him now. With that said, I challenge all of us to move forward with boldness and faith seizing what may be one of the greatest moments we have known to share the gospel of hope. A Savior is born, and His name is Jesus.”
John Boulet, pastor of Hockessin Church, asked Lee about BCM/D’s response to discussions about the Great Commission Resurgence that is being discussed throughout the SBC. Lee said it is premature at this point to respond, that the convention will take a wait-and-see approach.
Lee gave the financial report for Tom Stolle, BCM/D chief financial officer. Lee reported that for the ten months ending Oct. 31, 2009, total Cooperative Program (CP) receipts of $3,682,695 trailed last year by $183,217 or 4.7 percent. It is anticipated that for the year ending Dec. 31, 2009, CP giving could trail the approved 2009 budgeted receipts of $4,600,000 by approximately $200,000.
Lee said that in spite of the shortfall, operating expenses have been lower and the BCM/D staff has been diligently monitoring ministry costs with a goal of maintaining a very high level of ministry. Additionally, compensation costs have been lower than budgeted due to a number of vacancies that have not been filled in 2009.
Due largely to the effect of reduced expenses, BCM/D operations show a positive bottom line of $55,107.50 for the ten months ended Oct. 31, 2009.
Current state missions expenditures are funded by last year’s offering receipts of $203,850.54. There is $38,973.85 remaining unexpended dollars through Oct. 31, 2009.
Lee said the convention is in a good “ready cash” position. Invoices are paid in full and on time. As of Oct. 31, the operating bank balance was $967,988.80.
Strategy Teams Reports
Ellen Udovich, BCM/D missionary for direct ministries, lay mobilization, ministry evangelism and senior adults, reported for the Acts 1:8 team. “We are the team that helps you get up and go,” Udovich said. Going, she continued, could be across the street, across town, across the country, to Wilmington and to other parts of the country and around the world. The team can help target unreached people groups, do needs assessments, help with prayer walks and disaster relief preparation.
Udovich reported that there is a new chaplain crisis trailer for disaster relief use. The trailer is stocked with Bibles, Jesus videos and other materials. She said disaster relief volunteers are excited that chaplains are going to be with them.
Randy Millwood, BCM/D missionary for missional church leadership, e-quip.net, small groups, seminary extensions and spiritual formation, reported for the Leadership Development team. Millwood said the team had been doing an evaluation project and raw data is coming in from 100 participants.
He referenced “ShepherdNet,” small groups of pastoral team members and pastors who meet four times a year for fellowship and collaborative learning. Millwood said group members gather for meals, read books and share.
“It’s an exciting new strategy,” he said, adding, iron really does sharpen iron.
David Jackson, BCM/D missionary for church multiplication, reported for the Church Multiplication team. Jackson said church multiplication is on track to have the best year since 2006. “It has been a banner year, especially for Korean work,” Jackson said. Jackson commended Robert Kim, BCM/D missionary for language churches, Asian coordinator, church planting and evangelism, for fine work.
At the end of November there were 31 new works started in the convention—25 plants and six multisite congregations. These include African, Anglo-American, Asian, Indian, Burmese, Filipino, Haitian, Hispanic and Korean.
Jackson said a significant key to having a healthy new church family is having a healthy church planter family. In 2010 the team is planning to proactively provide preventive care for church planters to strengthen marriages and their families to keep them healthy and growing.
Church planters will also be provided legal assistance to deal with issues such as non-profit status, incorporation, and immigration.
Jackson reported that there is a special need for African American churches. None were started in 2009. To facilitate that planting effort, the Antioch Institute will kick off in 2010. The institute was formed in conjunction with Embrace Baltimore to enlist, equip, cultivate and send out African American church planters.
Bob Simpson submitted a written report for the Church Services team. Simpson encouraged attendance at 2010 Horizon’s leadership conference in July. The Horizon 2010 conference will change in 2011, being held in various locations throughout Maryland and Delaware.
“Next year it will serve as the launching pad to introduce regional Horizons throughout the two states. These conferences will be smaller versions of the Horizons you have known,” Simpson explained. The change is being made to bring the smaller conferences to a closer proximity to church leaders thus enabling more to attend.
Tom Stolle, in a written report for the Resource Development team, reported that the committee will continue to focus on a strategy of Cooperative Program and planned giving promotion and education.
“It is imperative that we continue to educate our churches about the value and purpose of the Cooperative Program,” Stolle wrote. The team is seeking new creative ways to promote CP. One of those was the “I’m a CP” commercial shown at the 2009 annual meeting in November.
Stolle reported that videos and photos are also being gathered on the website to continue to “tell the story.”
In addition, alternative methods for planned giving are being presented in an effort to expand the program resulting in more committed dollars to Baptist causes.
Robert Gerstmyer, executive director of Baptist Family & Children’s Services (BFCS), said he was very thankful for donations BFCS received to help with back-to-school stores. Many children were able to have a good start to the school year as a result of the funds, he said.
Gerstmyer told members about the Christmas stores churches were hosting in partnership with BFCS. Those who came paid $1 or a canned good per child, then they “shopped” for presents—toys churches have donated.
Two-hundred and four people showed up at the Crisfield store, Gerstmyer said.
He told members he was especially touched to hear from Lyn O’Berry, pastor of The Church on Warren Avenue, about running out of toys, and families still giving their one dollar bills to help others in the future.
Mitch Dowell, Embrace Wilmington executive director, reported that Delaware is different from Baltimore, but the Embrace initiative will operate using the same seven principles that Embrace Baltimore did with an emphasis on church starting and strengthening, evangelizing the city and impacting the community by sharing the gospel.
Dowell said God is moving and providing. Bethany Church offered Embrace Wilmington an office at the church and has provided telephone and Internet access and a small house behind the church for Dowell to live in temporarily.
Phil Graves, owner/designer of Out of the Mud Multimedia, is providing a free website for Embrace Wilmington.
In addition, the Cleveland Association gave Embrace Wilmington a good news wagon, providing supplies for block parties and other special outreach events.
Remarks by BCM/D President
BCM/D President Byron Day, re-elected to the position at the 2009 annual meeting in November, said he is thankful for another year to serve.
Day said that while he sat in a barber’s chair before the GMB meeting, he heard people talking about bad news – kidnapping, people shooting others at a party, people being stomped to death.
“What a wicked world we live in,” said Day. “We may be isolated because we hang out with church folks. We forget what’s really happening. It reminded me that Christmas is about hope. There’s a hope for everyone who has sinned and falls short of the glory of God to experience new life in Christ.”
“I’ve always wanted to see God,” Day said. Living in the projects as a young child, he said he spent a lot of time looking at the stars looking for God. “I just wanted to see God…to know!”
Day read from Revelation 21.
“The Bible tells me that there is a promise that I will see him face to face. I can’t wait for that. It’s okay if it happens today, even in the next couple of minutes,” Byron said. “The Savior has come. He’s come! Unto you this day. Go see Him. That message is still true today.
“Maryland, Delaware, the USA and around the world are still waiting to hear. We’ve got to keep on going. Our work is not finished until He comes back.”