By Sharon Mager
MIDDLETOWN, Md.—The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) General Mission Board (GMB) members headed to the Skycroft Conference Center on South Mountain for their May 2 meeting, enjoying a time of rejuvenation and a meal together in the Skycroft dining hall before their meeting.
“I wanted you to come up here to see the beautiful Skycroft conference and retreat/camp center and want to be focused on strengthening our ministry approach here,” said BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith.
Following a time of singing led by BCM/D Music and Worship Church Strengthening Specialist Phil Gifford, GMB Vice President Glenn Swanson, pastor of Bayside Baptist Church, Chesapeake Beach, led a time of prayer and shared from James 1:1-4, “…My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith develops patience. But let patience perfect its work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
“We all have been put to the test – it’s a refining process we go through, Praise God. For you know testing…produces steadfastness,” he said.
“We as Christians know joy only comes from the Lord. You can go through death, sickness, and sorrow and know the joy of the Lord.”
Swanson prayed, “It’s hard to think of joy through suffering … We have so many examples of steadfastness … Help us to remain strong and be a light … Help us to proclaim your name in all places.”
Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle reported Cooperative Program for the quarter ended March 31, 2017, totaled $923,907.24. “This is below budget expectations by $18,982.16, and only off from last year by $5,948.11 or 0.6 percent. Stolle said it’s “running about even.”
Receipts from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) totaled $185,051 for the first quarter, “Just under 18 percent.” Stolle said that although receipts are running significantly behind budget, this is a timing issue related to the receipt of non-personnel evangelism dollars. These dollars should be fully expended, requested, and received by year end.
Stolle said all major expense areas are within budget with exception to missionary and staff benefits. “This variance from the budget is purely a timing issue as one additional month of medical costs have been recognized,” he explained. At year end, this timing difference will be eliminated, and management expects these costs to be within the approved budget limits.
First quarter operations show a deficit of $31,366.36. “The timing differences related to the recognition of income for evangelism activity and medical costs fully account for this deficit. Management believes despite slightly lower Cooperative Program receipts, operations will approximately “break even.” This is not an unusual deficit for the first quarter, he explained.
For the quarter ended March 31, 2017, approximately 15 percent of budgeted State Missions Offering (SMO) receipts have been expended, mostly in church planting.
Regarding Skycroft, for the quarter ended March 31, 2017, receipts are running slightly ahead of budget expectations, buoyed by strong general user fees. “It is encouraging to see receipts continue to be strong,” Stolle said.
All major expense areas are within budget, except for Skycroft Conference Center Operations. Although just slightly over budget, equipment maintenance and repairs are the primary factors.
For the quarter ended March 31, 2017, there is a surplus of $85,583.45. At year end, management expects Skycroft operations to “break even.” Summer is the busy season for Skycroft, Stolle said.
Regarding the Baptist Foundation, Stolle reported 15 churches have outstanding loans from the church loan fund. The income earned from the church loan fund is distributed annually to the BCM/D to start and strengthen churches. Management estimates that the income to be distributed for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2017, will total between $100,000 to $115,000.
One church has an outstanding loan from the Arthur Nanney fund, established in 2006 for small, emergency church loans.
As of March 31, 2017, the market value of the investment portfolio was $7,623,843. The most recent calendar quarter portfolio performance reflected a return of 3.9 percent. The one-year performance reflected a return of 10.5 percent, and the three-year return totaled 4.6 percent.
More information about the Foundation is at the website, www.bcmd.org/baptist-foundation.
Executive Director Report
BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith said he and Church Multiplication Team Strategist Mike Crawford have been visiting churches throughout the convention sharing the BCM/D church planting strategy.
“One thing you will note, we believe missionaries and church planters are raised up in local congregations – this approach will address the issues of communication and collaboration as it involves associations and other churches in the area.
Regarding multiplication, Smith said that as disciples are raised up in churches, and feel called to plant churches or called to international missions, the congregations of those sending churches will support them through prayer, and will undergird them financially through the Cooperative Program, Annie Armstrong, Lottie Moon, and other such ways.
Smith also emphasized, “We plant Southern Baptist churches. Not generic evangelical, independent Baptist churches.” (See page 28 for more.)
Regarding the BCM/D’s relationship with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), Smith told GMB members, “Our partnership is stronger, and we are seeking to be good stewards in Cooperative Program giving and Annie Armstrong as it relates to North American Missions and Lottie Moon as it relates to international missions.”
Mark Massey, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, Sykesville, expressed concern for local associations, who are going through many transitions with fewer directors of missions.
“I feel good about our relationship with our 11 associations,” Smith responded. Associations are going through some analysis and are looking at their local mission focus, he said.
Smith emphasized that local associations existed before directors of missions (DOMs). “A local association doesn’t equal a DOM. Associations are focused on churches in a limited geography that connect with one another in partnership together for strategic local missions. The churches drive the energy and motivation in local associations, he said.
“Many people never know the relational encouragement challenges sometimes that local pastors face, particularly bi-vocational and single staff pastors …” The brotherhood of local churches and associations offer much value, he said.
Smith encouraged GMB members to attend this year’s annual meeting at Kettering Baptist Church on Nov. 12-13. It will be a shorter format, from Sunday to Monday, making it easier for bi-vocational pastors to take one day from work.
Strategy Team Reports
In a written submission, Randy Millwood, reporting for the Church Strengthening Group (CSG) wrote, “The true heroes and real equippers of our state convention are always our pastors and church leaders. A key role the CSG plays is connecting churches to churches for Kingdom of God impact across the region. In this first quarter, these stories have included connecting a Delaware church with a Baltimore City church for ongoing relationship and fiscal support; connecting a Glen Burnie church (with extra preschool resources due to a renovation) with a Westernport Church (with incredible opportunity and need in that very area); and connecting the expertise and experience of a Frostburg pastor and an Indian Head pastor with six pastors from around the state convention, who are in our second BCM/D contextualized Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary D.Min. Cohort!
Millwood said the team continues the ongoing work of resourcing pastors and key leaders, serving churches in conflict, and providing pastoral care for ministers in crisis.
Tom Stolle submitted a written report for the Convention Operations Team that includes the finance office, Baptist Mission Resource Center operations, evangelism (engagement and training), and Skycroft Conference Center.
Beyond the scope of daily operations, the finance office has been providing bookkeeping services to the Mid-Maryland Baptist Association (MMBA) since January 1, 2017. This arrangement allows the association to allocate a greater portion of their resources toward ministry to their member churches and results in cost savings. Also, the finance office provides financial accounting services to the Baptist Foundation of MD/DE and Rivers Corporate Park Condominium Association (an association that includes the BCM/D as a member).
Cooperative Program (CP) promotion is a continued priority. Stolle wrote, “It is imperative that we continue to educate our churches about the value and purpose of the Cooperative Program.”
Regarding Skycroft Conference Center, Stolle wrote, “Preparations are underway for summer camp season by hiring summer staff and getting the campus ready for the ‘busy’ season.
In discussing Disaster Relief (DR), Stolle wrote, beginning in January, a reorganization of the DR volunteer leadership structure began. A six-member regional leadership team will oversee training, budget expenditures, and recruitment. (See page 18 for more.)
Regarding Evangelism, State Director of Evangelism Doug DuBois continues to assist individual churches on a “one-on-one basis” throughout the convention.
In a written report, Church Multiplication Team Strategist Michael Crawford said six planters were assessed, and 15 men are in the “pipeline” going through the process. “We have seen the Lord plant nine churches so far this year. Church multiplication is in a good place and we are excited about the rest of this year.
Crawford said he recently visited the Salaam Center in Baltimore. “Our Muslim Initiative is important because our convention region receives the second largest number of immigrants in the United States and many of them are Muslims. Pastor Reda Narouz is doing some excellent work in Baltimore reaching Muslims for Jesus.
“I would encourage you to prayerfully consider what if anything you or your church could do to help. (See page 7 for more information about the Salaam Center.)
Regarding ministry to Jewish people, Crawford wrote, “We have the third largest population of Jews in our convention, and I’m burdened to reach them! Robert Pristoop has been praying and searching for a man to plant amongst the Jews. We have interviewed a few people, but have not found a suitable candidate yet. Please continue to pray for this need.”
Mark Massey, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, said he would like to see the convention once again become involved in international partnership missions.
“I’ve seen what they can do for churches and state conventions. Massey suggested GMB members think about it and discuss the possibilities at September’s GMB meeting.
“I want to remind you, the fields are white unto harvest,” he said.
Massey said there are many new technologies available to share the Gospel.
Closing by Vice President
GMB Vice President Rick Hancock, who serves as associate pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Huntingtown, shared from III John. “About 2000 years ago, John wrote a letter to his dear friend Gaius…appealing to this friend for help. We’re introduced to two men, Diotephres and Demetrius.”
Diotephres loved preeminence and refused to show hospitality to brothers who would come and share. Hancock said John encouraged Gaius not to imitate that evil, emphasizing that at the time, Diotephres was considered a church leader.
Demetrius had a good reputation. His character and doctrine were spot-on, and John vouched for him. Demetrius was a faithful brother.
“My son Joshua and I were talking about these two guys. Isn’t it fascinating? Little did they know 2000 years later a father and son would be talking about their story,” Hancock said.
John issued a strong warning and a message of encouragement, Hancock said. “The danger is this—We can get so caught up in business and the success of our church, the ministry of the association, the strategy of the convention, the goals of the SBC agencies that we neglect the most important thing— personal character and conduct and most importantly, how Christ desires to transform us from the inside out on a daily basis not just on Sunday.”
Demetrius understood what it meant to have character formed by Christ, Hancock said. “The question is, do we get it? It has nothing to do with position, power or preeminence.”
Hancock prayed, “Thank you for the truth and the power of your Word. Help me, and help us, in Jesus’ name.”
Tim Simpson, senior pastor of Greenridge Baptist Church, Boyds, closing the GMB meeting, prayed, “… [A]llow your spirit to flow through us. You have called us to serve, primarily to serve you through the local church. Help us to be, Jesus, who you made us to be—your ambassadors.”