By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.— David Lee, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware told members of the General Mission Board, “Despite the changing landscape and the challenge of a struggling economy, we have been able to stay on mission with impact and effectiveness. None of that would be possible without the partnership of leaders like those in this room, the churches you represent, and the other churches and partners that make up the BCM/D and SBC families.”
The GMB met on Dec. 6 at the Baptist Mission Resource Center.
Bryan Patrick, minister of worship at First Baptist Church, Laurel, led members in praise, singing a medley of “Joy to the World,” “Joy Unspeakable Joy” and “I Bring an Offering to You.”
BCM/D First Vice-President Ron Smith called the meeting to order. Smith quoted Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God…” Smith said we spend time praising that very God. “We know at the end of all things, when all is said and done, every
knee will bow, every tongue confess…My challenge is making sure I don’t lose focus in between.” Smith told messengers they are doing business for the sake of the kingdom. “That being the case, we don’t want to lose sight of God in the beginning, at the end, or any point in between.”
Executive Director’s Report
David Lee reiterated the mission of the BCM/D, to intentionally assist in the starting and strengthening of congregations so that together “we can accomplish the Great Commission as given to us in Matt. 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8.”
“It’s what drives who we are and what we do,” Lee said, highlighting the five convention strategies: church multiplication; church services; leadership development and support; Acts 1:8 missions involvement; and resource development.
He welcomed new board members and those returning.
Looking at the recent changes at the North American Mission Board (NAMB), Lee had encouraging news.
“I am pleased to announce, at this point, we will see a stabilizing of our resourcing from NAMB as we move through 2012, 2013 and 2014,” he said.
He is especially enthusiastic about increased resources available for church planting.
“We are hoping to see a dramatic increase in the church planting resources available especially as we partner in the Send Cities effort [a strategic effort NAMB is launching to reach cities] in Baltimore and Washington. The next several years could be record years for us in new church plants in our multi-state region.”
There will be adjustments, Lee told members. NAMB will discontinue funding resort ministry as of Dec. 31, 2012.
“We are already working with Lynn Davis, BCM/D Resort Minister, on a plan to continue that ministry through BCM/D resourcing. “We cannot afford to walk away from the open door God has given us in Ocean City, especially in the work with the internationals who come there yearly.”
Another adjustment, Lee cited, is determining how Church Planting Catalyst roles (formerly directors of missions) will be funded.
“The bottom line of resourcing from NAMB, as it relates to our BCM/D budget, should remain the same through 2014.”
Adding more good news, Lee said BCM/D will begin mobilizing efforts to call an African American church planting missionary. Funds were previously frozen by NAMB during their presidential transition.
Lee congratulated Lindsey Shaffer. Shaffer was serving as an associate missionary and is now at full missionary status. Her official title is “Live Loud Missionary.”
The SBC annual meeting will be in Baltimore in 2014 and planning for the “gigantic process” will begin soon. Crossover events usually draw many people to make decisions for Christ, and he’s happy that the SBC will see firsthand how God is moving in this region.
“I will also ask you to pray for our staff,” Lee said. “We are experiencing a culture shift within our building with the recent and pending retirements, addition of new staff and changing roles of some of our staff. I have full confidence in those who are assuming these new roles and the team with which we are moving forward. Obviously, these key players who will be retiring will be missed.“
Lee reported that Mitch Dowell is transitioning from the executive director of Embrace Wilmington to director of missions/church planting catalyst for Delaware Association. Dowell will continue to serve part-time to complete the work in Wilmington and provide counsel for building urban strategies. Embrace Wilmington will end at the close of 2012.
Lee thanked Dowell for his sacrificial service and he thanked pastors from Delaware serving on the GMB and those
connected with Embrace Wilmington for having exerted a positive influence in leading the city.
Looking ahead, Lee said Embrace Silver Spring will launch at the BCM/D annual meeting at Global Mission Church in November. “Reaching out to cities is a priority for us due to the large pockets of lostness they represent.”
In addition, Lee said the convention will continue to seek to mobilize Maryland/Delaware Baptists to expand efforts to reach those who are in poverty and he asked for prayer for collegiate outreach and ministry.
Assisting existing churches will also be an emphasis in the coming year.
“With the shift in emphasis on church planting at the SBC level, we are doubling our efforts to help with existing church revitalization.”
In addition, Lee said he will bring recommendations in 2012 concerning an expansion of support for leaders and their fa
Another emphasis will be in ethnic and language church planting and revitalization.
“We are a growing family. The world is literally coming to us,” Lee said.
Lee also urged members to remain vigilant regarding the battle over the definition of marriage.
“God is at work. We are seeing pockets of revival across our region,” he said. “Let us pray that revival will spread like a wildfire and become viral in this region!”
Lee introduced Mark Swan, pastor of North Point Church, Baltimore.
Swan said North Point Baptist Church was declining. He led the congregation in being intentional and being missional and reaching their communities. Within 18 months, the church had partnered with local schools, hosted a fall festival and a children’s party. Twenty members sang Christmas carols at a nursing home and they gave away 150 pairs of socks.
The church is growing, averaging 92 in morning worship and it’s a more diverse mix. They’ve had 14 decisions for Christ since September and they recently baptized seven children.
Tom Stolle, BCM/D chief financial officer, shared the financial report. Stolle reported year-to-date Cooperative Program receipts of $3,537,902, which trails last year by $57,799 or 1.6 percent. Stolle said if receipts for the final two months approximate last year, receipts should be close to the annual budget of $4,300,000.
Receipts from NAMB are down $323,913 from the annual budget of $1,002,000, but Stolle said that largely represents several vacant positions in the 2011 NAMB budget. In addition, funding for collegiate, evangelism, leadership and church planting expenses will be received in December, reducing a portion of the variance.
Regarding disbursements, all major expense categories are within the year-to-date budget with the exception of the BMRC expenses. Year-to-date telephone, information technology support and maintenance are running ahead of budget.
“We are in a ready cash position, paying our bills in full and on time,” Stolle said. “We really appreciate what God has done for us, and we value our reputation. One way to honor Him is to be good stewards,” Stolle said.
GMB President Kerry Hinton said he is humbled at his election and “hopes to serve well.”
Hinton referred proposed bylaws changes regarding changes to “Article II, Committees and their duties” to the bylaws committee.
Strategy Team Reports
Hinton introduced Lindsey Shaffer. She reported there are 50 new English As A Second Language (ESL) teachers and said they are all serving. Four new ESL ministries have started. Shaffer said the team is also seeking to help resource churches with immigrant assistance.
She shared information about a new video called “58 initiative,” (http://www.live58.org), a Christ- centered global initiative to end extreme poverty.
Three mission teams in the spring, two in the summer and several near the end of the year ministered with Maryland/Delaware churches as a result of using BCM/D’s volunteer portal (https://bcmd.org/volunteer-portal). There have been 42 new decisions for Christ as a result.
Eighteen summer missionaries served in 2011. Nine served with the resort ministry in Ocean City, where four international students accepted Christ. One international student was baptized in the ocean.
“I’m excited to see what 2012 brings,” Shaffer said.
Tom Stolle reported for the Resource Development team. Stolle showed two Cooperative Program promotion videos that were on flash drives that were sent out to all BCM/D churches. Stolle told GMB members the drive contains more videos and bulletin inserts for churches to use to promote CP giving.
“We will continue to promote CP giving. Quite frankly, we believe in it. Our God is worthy of the best, and we certainly want to give that to Him,” Stolle said.
“This is my last report to this body,” Robert Gerstmyer, executive director of Baptist Family & Children’s Services told GMB members. “I am very grateful for the relationships I have with so many of you, and I am thankful for your wholehearted support of the work we do together to serve the poor. That’s what this agency is all about. That’s why we were brought into existence by you.”
Gerstmyer, who will retire in February, said BFCS has fully established a work in western Maryland through a partnership with LaVale Baptist Church. LaVale converted their parsonage into a transitional housing facility and church members are rallying around a family of five, donating their time and talents to help. Gerstmyer asked pastors to consider donating unused housing to BFCS for possible transitional housing.
The agency continues to recruit families to participate in Safe Families for Children. (http://www.baptistfamily.org/safefamilies)
“We placed our first child in Delaware with an approved family,” Gerstmyer said, explaining BFCS currently has 15 children in hosting arrangements and family friend arrangements. At the BCM/D annual meeting in November, 47 pastors agreed to show the Safe Family video to their churches.
Gerstmyer thanked GMB for support their churches have provided in response to an end of year appeal. “As with many other non-profits, this is a tough time to be in business. Our staff and funding have been stretched to what seems their limit. Thank you if you or your church has helped.”
Gerstmyer introduced Debbie Marini, who will serve as interim executive director of Baptist Family & Children’s Services. Marini started with the agency as a social worker in 1992 and served for ten years. She left to work with other child welfare agencies in Maryland then returned to BFCS as the director for Chosen Foster Care in 2009.
Gerstmyer will mentor Marini until his term expires on Jan. 5.
John Schoff, president of the Baptist Foundation, reported that 17 churches have outstanding loans from the church loan fund. The Foundation has earned a net income of $126,257 on its church loan fund, including loan interest paid by churches, since Sept. 30. These funds will be used for starting and strengthening existing churches.
Three churches have outstanding loans from the Arthur Nanney church loan fund, used for small emergency loans to churches.
As of Sept. 30, the market value of the investment portfolio was $5,877,655. For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the portfolio performance reflected a return of -19.9 percent in equities and 1.6 percent in fixed securities.
Schoff said it was a particularly tough quarter for the equity market. Unrealized investment losses were the primary reason for the drop in market value from $6,236,414 at Sept. 30, 2010 to $5,877,655 at Sept. 30, 2011. The foundation continues to focus on planned giving as a strategy.
For more information about the foundation and its services, see www.bcmd.org/baptist-foundation.
“I’m loving Delaware and the Delaware pastors,” Mitch Dowell, executive director of Embrace Wilmington, said.
Dowell said he’s seen excitement, churches growing and people coming to know the Lord and being baptized.
He cited EverSpring Church in Bear, Del., doing well reaching out to a diverse community. Bethany Baptist Church joined with Alexis Vides and Nuevo Amanecer Church, a Hispanic plant at Bethany, for their first joint worship and prayer service. Dowell said there are a lot of Spanish speaking people in Wilmington.
Dowell cited Hockessin Baptist Church’s successful ministry through their coffee shop, LOMA.
“LOMA has proven to be a wonderful place for people to connect, develop relationships and have conversations often about God over a cup of coffee. The second phase of opening the adjacent ministry center is well under way.”
Dowell said LOMA’s success has encouraged the congregation to move toward the next step of planting a church in Wilmington. Hockessin is planning to host Wilmington’s first church planting conference on Jan. 28.
Embrace Wilmington will partner with Wendell Hall and Solid Rock Baptist Church in an outreach to the community through sports evangelism.
One of the greatest needs for evangelism and disciple-making is on the college campuses. Dowell said last year Ogletown Baptist Church partnered with the Baptist Student Ministry at Univ. of Delaware to send 42 students to the Passion Conference. Partnering with Embrace Wilmington, the church plans to send 53 students and two leaders from the Univ. of Delaware, Wilmington Univ., Kutztown Univ. and Delaware Technical & Community College to the 2012 Passion conference.
Dowell said LifeWay Christian Resources continues to be instrumental in helping churches in the area of leadership, development, Sunday school and discipleship.
Dowell said he continues to meet with business and civic leaders in and around the city, and they’re still working on establishing relationships between churches and para-church organizations in and around the city.
Hockessin Church recently partnered with Embrace Wilmington, Delaware Youth for Christ, and Film Brothers Movie Coop in a project designed to impact the lives of five inner city young men, their families and their neighborhoods. The project involved filming “Prodigal,” a short movie completed in June. The movie, adding the boys’ testimonies, is expected to be complete by December.
“This little tiny city is a happening city!” Dowell told GMB members. “God is at work in the city in a number of ways. I am personally thankful for your prayers and support. I am committed to continue helping the churches in Wilmington/New Castle County to reach the lost. I am also committed to being a good steward of the Cooperative Program dollars as I help these churches.”
John Boulet, pastor of Hockessin Baptist Church, said he believes more time is needed to prepare to vote on budget matters, taking the time to go over each area more in-depth, examining it in light of the five strategic focus areas. The issue was referred to the administrative committee.
[Editor’s Note: The BCM/D Administrative Committee, composed of board members from each association, meets often during the year and is tasked with the oversight of budget preparation. The other GMB members are given the proposed budget two weeks in advance of the September meeting when they vote on the final budget to present to the messengers at the Annual Meeting in November of each year].
Hinton closed the meeting in prayer – “Give us a sense of excitement…I pray for Baptists of Maryland/Delaware to walk right in the center of Your will in everything we do.”