By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) report was the primary topic of discussion at the May 4 Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) General Mission Board (GMB) meeting at the Baptist Mission Resource Center. Members encouraged unity while being open and frank in expressing their opinions.
Bill Archer led members in singing praise music. GMB president David Sandvick, pastor of First English Church, Frostburg, called the meeting to order.
Executive Director David Lee thanked messengers for their prayers and support during his ongoing battle with prostate cancer.
“It has been a unique and rewarding experience for Sherry and me to be on the receiving end of your ministry to us. We are so grateful. We are learning so much about life, about ministry, about ourselves and about the God who has been so faithful,” Lee told messengers.
“I wanted to be here with you today because these are historic days. Our world is changing rapidly. More than ever before in our lifetimes we are being tested. The storms will continue to come …
“Only what we have built on the Rock of Ages will stand. You and I are going to be called upon to make major decisions. Some of these will be personal. Many of these come as having been called to be a leader in your local church. Some of these decisions will come before this body, because we have been chosen to carry on the work of this convention while it is not in session. I can assure you that this will not be an easy task.
“I do believe that we agree upon the major foundations of our faith,” Lee continued, referring to the fundamental truths of one true God, salvation in none other than God who loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us so that we may have forgiveness of our sins and eternal life, and that Jesus commissioned all of us to take the gospel to the nations and to be disciple makers through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“I believe that we can all rally around the Great Commission and the Great Commandments. Like always it is in the details where Southern Baptists find points of disagreement and at times disunity,” he stated.
Regarding the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, Lee acknowledged that everyone is still trying to process the document. “I appreciate the tone of this latest release,” Lee said. Adding that he appreciates too the presence of greater indications of personal cooperation, but Lee cautioned that there are still many unanswered questions about how that might look.
“You and I need more time to process this document. It needs to be bathed in prayer,” he said. “There is a mountain of detail that has yet to be decided and applied.”
Lee encouraged churches to send messengers to the SBC annual meeting in Florida, to listen to the discussion and to prayerfully make a decision and vote accordingly.
“I want to state publicly that I am in favor of a Great Commission Resurgence especially as it grows out of a spiritual awakening (the only way I believe it can happen). I pledge personally to do what I can to be a part of seeing this come to reality.”
Lee stressed that the BCM/D’s five strategic initiatives, church multiplication, church services, leadership development and support, missions involvement and resource development, are already in line with the goals of the GCR proposals. We are already on the front lines, he said. “They could have just as easily embraced our strategy, because what they created is similar.”
“Let me close my report by hopefully stirring your thinking concerning the key theme that arises out of the GCR Report—penetrating the lostness. Where are the major pockets of lostness in Maryland and Delaware? I started making my own list and I encourage you to do the same.” Lee’s list included our cities, the poor and hurting, college and university campuses, pockets of language and cultural diversity and bedroom communities.
Lee encouraged GMB members to make their own lists, to join him in praying and thinking strategically about how to penetrate the lostness and to pray for unity as a state convention as we move forward to “penetrate the darkness.”
Tom Stolle, BCM/D chief financial officer, reported that for the first quarter actual receipts are trailing budget estimates. Stolle attributed the drop to several factors. Cooperative Program giving for the first quarter was down by $50,450, a 4.3 percent downturn from the same period last year. Stolle said BCM/D had its strongest February ever in CP giving, but January and March were substantially below 2009 monthly giving. Stolle said current trends indicate that the total 2010 CP receipts may approximate 4.3 million.
North American Mission Board (NAMB) receipts were lower year-to-date than the anticipated budget; however, Stolle said that is primarily due to unfilled staff positions and the timing of certain ministry events and projects that NAMB reimburses. “Ministry doesn’t happen evenly through the year,” Stolle said.
Interest income is down, a result of depressed market interest rates.
Concerning operating disbursements, Stolle reported that management and staff is monitoring expenses but some are outpacing the budget. One is the expense for the Baptist Mission Resource Center (BMRC). Stolle explained that the budget was approved when the sale of the portion of the building was expected to occur in 2009, however, the sale did not occur until Feb. 28, 2010, so the BCM/D had to carry the cost of operating expenses for the entire facility for two months and that expense was not budgeted. In addition, there was close to $7,000 spent on snow removal early in 2010 due to the record snowfall in the Mid-Atlantic region. Stolle said copying costs were also higher than anticipated this quarter.
Other areas overages are in communication, leadership development and support and church multiplication; but those overages are due primarily to timing issues and Stolle expects these areas will be within budget by the year end.
A new strategic initiative that Stolle said is fully expended when compared to the annual budget is the support for ongoing work at Open Door Community Development Corporation, which is working to help Baltimoreans living in poverty.
The bottom line, Stolle reported, is a year-to-date first quarter operating deficit of $103,582.
Concerning the State Missions Offering (SMO) income statement, receipts of $207,270 are reported. These funds are set aside to fund SMO ministries throughout the year.
Regarding the balance sheet, Stolle said he is happy to continue to say that the BCM/D is in a good ready cash position and pays its bills in full and on time. “That is something we are very proud of,” he said.
In March 2010, the BCM/D invested an additional one million dollars with the Baptist Foundation of MD/DE as a result of the sale of a portion of the BMRC. Stolle said that there is $821,546.89 set aside in liabilities escrow, of which $618,665.40 is specifically designated for church planting.
Wendell McClellan, administrative committee chairman, introduced three recommendations. The first was to accept the invitation of The Church on Warren Avenue to have the Sept. 14 GMB meeting at their facility at 113 Warren Avenue. Ed Reese, pastor of Hazelwood Church, asked whether there would be adequate parking. David Lee said the church has arranged parking with a nearby Lutheran church. He went on to explain that the church is one of BCM/D’s historical churches that has had a big impact on the convention and birthed many other churches. GMB members approved the recommendation unanimously.
They also unanimously approved the second recommendation to accept an offer from Ron Malatak, a neighbor of Skycroft Conference Center, to purchase 3 to 5 acres of land for the price of $750 an acre. Mr. Malatak will cover all costs associated with the sale. McClellan explained that the land is very steep and does not, nor will it, serve of any use for Skycroft. Malatak wants to build his daughter a house and needs the land to comply with Frederick County building requirements.
McClellan said the transaction is not about the money, but rather about being a good neighbor.
The third recommendation asked GMB members to affirm a statement composed by the Administrative Committee in response to the GCR proposal that will be presented at the June SBC annual meeting in Orlando.
The position statement stands in support of the assessment written by David Lee in the April 2010 issue of Baptistlife (https://bcmd.org/2010/04/response-to-the-great-commission-resurgence-gcr-progress-report). The Administrative Committee’s response statement reads: “After much individual study, prayer and corporate discussion of the GCR Task Force Report, the administrative committee of the General Mission Board reached unanimous agreement and stand in support of the assessment written by Dr. David Lee in the April 2010 issue of BaptistLIFE. While much of the GCR report reaffirms our Southern Baptist core beliefs and mission, we anticipate that the proposed funding changes would adversely affect the ability of state convention personnel and resources to directly support local churches in fulfilling their great commission, which we believe to be the primary focus of the BCM/D as stated in our mission statement. We encourage our member churches to attend the annual convention and vote on the matter as the Lord leads.”
“It was the consensus that we as leaders in the administrative committee needed to at least show some measure of leadership in dealing with the Great Commission Resurgence report,” McClellan said, adding that the committee had very little time to respond to the newest version of the report issued on May 3.
Jon Boulet, pastor of Hockessin Church asked, “What’s the goal of using this statement; what are you going to do with it?”
David Sandvek responded that the statement was intended to offer churches guidance and let them know what leadership believes.
“My great commission heart personally has been praying that the Baptist Convention of Maryland/ Delaware would represent good stewardship by spending less and giving more to the International Mission Board, so when I see the GCR program saying we want to take 51 percent as opposed to 50 percent for the International Mission Board I say, ‘Amen.’ I wish it was way more than that,’” Boulet said.
“And when I see other things like we’re going to reinterpret the contractual agreements my heart says, ‘Amen to that!’ because I am in favor of the Great Commission.”
Mike Logsdon, pastor of First Church, Easton, and Gary Willet, pastor of Potomac Heights Church, both spoke against the statement. Both men stated that they believe the statement is prematurely written.
Charles Brown, youth pastor of Dunkirk Church and a member of the administrative committee, spoke for the document. Brown said the changes proposed could result in BCM/D losing over one million dollars in funding and anywhere between 6 to 12 missionaries.
Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Church and a member of the SBC Executive Committee, said that as a representative for the BCM/D in the Executive Committee, he wants to hear feedback and the varying opinions.
“As a representative for Maryland/Delaware I have some type of voice to say this is how some of us feel in Maryland/Delaware,” he said.
Anderson said that just because permission was given to establish a GCR task force, doesn’t mean that everything they decide and everything they say should be approved. “That’s why we do due diligence,” he said.
“We as a body can say what we have concerns about. As this dear brother says (referring to Charlie Brown) one million dollars is one million dollars. It’s a lot of money and provides a lot of services.” Anderson said that the SBC won’t look down on Maryland/Delaware for sharing their opinion. They should want to do what’s best for everybody and still reach the lost, he said. He spoke in favor of affirming the statement because having such a document, he said, gives the GMB, the task force, and himself, as part of the executive committee, something to work with.
Lee responded that he is happier with the final GCR report and is pleased that the task force listened to those who shared their concerns, but there is still ambiguity. “The thing that really concerns me most of all is that there is a great deal of ambivalence, “There is a great deal of undeclared,” he said.
Lee said he believes the recommendation will be approved at the SBC annual meeting in Orlando. “…But I still think it behooves us to make sure that the calls that are made and the details that are getting put in are extremely focused on what is very best for the kingdom of God and for Southern Baptists as a whole.”
The motion to affirm the administrative committee’s statement carried with 22 messengers voting to affirm the recommendation. Eight opposed.
Reports from the Field
Mitch Dowell, executive director of Embrace Wilmington, said he is enjoying getting to know the state of Delaware as a new resident. Dowell, in an effort to get to know pastors, churches and their needs, polled pastors, asking them about their vision and their strategies. Some, he said, don’t have a vision, or they have a vision but no strategy. ”I needed to know that so I can help,” he said.
The areas that churches acknowledged needing help with were: visioning, strategic planning, evangelism training, discipleship, follow-through, leadership development, member mobilization, community assessment, outreach and church planting in an urban culture. “We’re going to have to plant churches differently in Wilmington,” Dowell said. Churches also needed help in receiving and hosting mission teams.
“I see my job as a catalyst, a person who resources and helps churches get what they need to do what God has given them to do,” Dowell said.
He stressed the importance of getting to know city leaders and evangelical churches throughout Wilmington, and also the importance of reaching the African American community.
Bob Gerstmyer, executive director of Baptist Family & Children’s Services reported on the agency’s “Safe Families.” Gerstmyer said the program restores the church’s role of giving orphans and widows a new start. Safe Families, he said, is a safety net for children at risk of abuse and can provide families an opportunity to be on mission in their homes.
Gerstmyer spoke about the program at Severn Run Church and 30 families came forward to get more information. Other churches are now interested.
Tim Lee, president of the Baptist Foundation, reported that 18 churches have outstanding loans from the church loan fund. As of the first six months ending March 31, the foundation has earned $73,456 on income returned from loans. Funds will be used to start and strengthen churches. Lee estimates $150,000 will be distributed to BCM/D by the end of the fiscal year.
Five churches have loans from the Arthur Nanney Church Loan Fund, established in 2006 to provide small, emergency loans.
Lee said that as of March 31, the market value of the investment portfolio was $6,182,097. This performance reflects a 3.6 percent return on equities and 1.2 percent returns on fixed securities.
“We have experienced a partial recovery in 2009 and it is continuing in 2010,” Lee said.
In March, BCM/D added $1 million dollars into the investment portfolio as a result of the sale of a portion of the Baptist Mission Resource Center.
Lee said the foundation continues to focus on planned given as a strategy with an emphasis on education.
Strategy Team Reports
David Jackson, BCM/D missionary for church multiplication, gave the Church Multiplication report. Jackson introduced Rolando Castro, BCM/D missionary for church planting, evangelism and Hispanic church development. Castro shared about this year’s annual language music festival held on Palm Sunday at Global Mission Church. Castro said there was a record attendance of 700 people from 15 different people groups. Twelve performed and shared food. Castro encouraged members to attend next year’s event. “You will be surrounded by the whole world and you will listen to how the world worships God.”
Castro said 20 percent of BCM/D churches are language churches. “And we’re absolutely behind the pace,” he said, adding that we need to reach about 100 more people groups. Castro said 167 language groups are represented in Montgomery County alone.
Castro introduced the newest church multiplication staff member, Paul Mulani. Mulani is pastor of Disciples Fellowship International Church. Castro explained that Robert Kim will oversee Asian church ministry; Castro will oversee Hispanic ministry; and Mulani will oversee the other language ministries.
Mulani said he is excited in his new position. “I need your prayers and I look forward for great things from God,” he said.
Jackson introduced church planter Donny Reynolds, pastor of Centerpoint Church, Annapolis. Reynolds said God is moving in his church which launched in January 2009 with 37 people. The church is now averaging 95.
Jackson said BCM/D has 15 new church plants so far this year including works in people groups we have not yet reached. Chen (a Burmese people group), Cambodian and Japanese works will be off the ground by summer.
Ellen Udovich, BCM/D missionary for disaster relief, lay mobilization and senior adults reported for the Acts 1:8 Mission Team. Udovich said Haitian missionaries recently reported over 80,000 documented decisions for Christ, some directly related to Southern Baptist volunteers, but most from the Haitian Baptist churches. There is great spiritual warfare, Udovich said, but doors are opening that haven’t been open in generations. Udovich said churches should be able to begin scheduling mission trips this summer. Those teams do not need to be just disaster relief workers. A team of eight would need two trained volunteers. The requirements for the other six is that they are males, 18 years and older and in good health. More information will be forthcoming. There is also a need for volunteers to help flooding victims in New England. Udovich said the job is the kind where you can’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty, but is just the type of work that causes people to ask why they are volunteering to help.
Udovich introduced Gayla Parker, BCM/D WMU executive director, missionary for missions education and customization, missions innovator specialist (WMU, SBC). Parker shared about the Women’s Mission Corp, a WMU-sponsored program to equip women for life—providing job skills training, teaching them to budget, help them with home skills, but most importantly, share Christ with them. Liz Wright a member of First Church, Cambridge, will open a center on the eastern shore which should be up and running by fall.
In a written Church Services report, Bob Simpson, BCM/D associate executive director, chief operating officer and editor of BaptistLIFE, reported that the VBS expo was successful with over 300 attendees. Other events included an African-American Awareness Conference and the Minister’s Wives Retreat, “Promises.”
“Uncharted” has been rescheduled from March to Nov. 5-6.
Upcoming events include: “reCHARGE,” a Skycroft summer missions camp, and “Horizons,” the annual leadership conference.
Randy Millwood, BCM/D missionary for missional church leadership, small groups, seminary extension, spiritual formation and E-Quip.net, reported for the Leadership Development Team. Millwood, in a written report, said that the team has completed the first phase of a comprehensive macro-evaluate process. Some of the results are:
• The longer someone serves a BCM/D church the more positively they consider the resources and services of the BCM/D
• The shorter someone’s service with a BCM/D church, the more likely they are to know someone from the BCM/D staff
• The more traditional a church self identifies, the more likely they are to consider BCM/D resourcing to be of good quality
• Female constituents felt encouraged and helped by BCM/D services and resources
• Generally, the longer someone has served in ministry the more inclined they were to value partnerships such as the BCM/D.
The team initiatives include the minister’s wives retreat, “The Soul of the Servant” and “Quiet My Soul” retreats and “ShepherdNet,” quarterly gathering of small group of ministers.
The Resource Development Team is continuing to focus on a strategy of Cooperative Program promotion, planned giving, promotion and education. Strategies include developing new CP videos this year, and fresh content on the BCM/D website. Education continues to be a priority. In addition, alternative methods of planned giving are being developed. Bill Peacock was hired as the planned giving specialist.
Ad Hoc Committee Reports
Homer McKeithan, reporting for the Affiliation Committee, asked members to receive into the fellowship of the BCM/D, Iglesia Biblica Jehova Nisi church in Montgomery Association.
McKeithan said members of the committee are in agreement with the doctrinal statement and that the church is in alignment with the Baptist Faith and Message. They are already contributing to the Cooperative Program. The recommendation was unanimously approved.
John Boulet, pastor of Hockessin Church, asked how the administrative committee will take into account the potential changes if the GCR proposal is passed. Sandvick said that Tom Stolle will prepare an impact report. David Lee suggested that Boulet send a letter to the chairman of the administrative committee with his concerns and that Boulet’s input would be considered during the budget making process.
BCM/D president, Byron Day, spoke on John 14, “Let not your heart be troubled…”
The heart is the idea of soul heart, mind, intellect and emotions, Day explained.
Jesus was dealing with disciples who just got the news that he’s leaving and where he’s going they can’t come. As the disciples struggle with that thought, and the turmoil, Jesus shifts their focus to the eternal—“I go to prepare a place for you.”
“No matter what happens in Orlando, someone is going to be sad,” Day said. “How do you respond when you don’t get your way? Jesus says ‘Let not your heart be troubled.’ Don’t get upset. I’ve got this taken care of.’
“…after all these years I still believe we are one body, one faith, one baptism, one spirit. Someone is going to have to submit.”
“I do know this; I am more concerned with pleasing the Lord Jesus Christ than anything else. At the end of the day, did I do what God told me to?
“I still believe we can do more together than we can apart,” Day said.