By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) General Mission Board (GMB) members met on an overcast May 5 at the Baptist Mission Resource Center (BMRC) to conduct business, hear “on the field” reports from missionaries throughout the area and to worship. During the meeting, GMB members voted to pursue negotiations to sell a portion the BMRC and to hire a naval academy collegiate minister who would also oversee all the BCM/D collegiate ministries.
Bill Archer, BCM/D missionary for music and worship, led GMB members in a few songs using LifeWay worship media from the recently released Baptist Hymnal (2008). Archer said churches can easily use these video accompaniments or the audio versions with their congregational singing.
General Mission Board President Ron Stanley, Jr. referenced Matt. 16:13-20 where Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.”
“It makes me think who we as a church believe Jesus is today. Who do we say Christ is? If we have a problem identifying who Christ is, what will happen to those we’re trying to reach?” Stanley asked.
Report from Executive Director
David Lee, BCM/D executive director, reiterated the convention’s mission, to intentionally assist in starting and strengthening congregations so that together we can fulfill the Great Commission. The five strategic initiatives are: church multiplication; church services, leadership development and support; Acts 1:8 missions involvement and resource development.
Lee responded to a question Tim Simpson, pastor of Greenridge Church, sent to him asking that in light of 2009 being Embrace Baltimore’s final year of implementation, what resources have been invested from BCM/D and other agencies and how have the resources been utilized.
Lee said there were multiple streams of income provided to Embrace including resources from BCM/D, the Baltimore Association (BBA), the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and LifeWay.
The BCM/D provided three full-time staff positions for Embrace, two of which were jointly appointed missionary positions with NAMB. In addition BCM/D in partnership with NAMB provided funds to supplement the BBA director of missions’ salary prior to the arrival of the Embrace executive director. BCM/D also established a new collegiate evangelism effort at Morgan Sate Campus in partnership with NAMB as part of the Embrace effort.
Additional funding has been provided for church planting, some from the budget and some from additional funds allocated from BCM/D designated church planting funds.
This was in addition to the support BCM/D would regularly provide to Baltimore churches.
Lee explained that the figures do not include other program and ministry expenses coming from servicing the churches in Baltimore during the Embrace effort.
“Everyone of our staff persons used some field service money in Baltimore during this time. It’s hard to separate because some would have been spent in Baltimore anyway.”
Funds were also provided through the Embrace campaign funds and endowment money.
LifeWay partnered with the BCM/D by providing funds for a part-time consultant, as well as resources to connect Baltimore churches to Ministers of Education from churches across the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Lee said this program worked better in Baltimore than in previous Strategic Focus Cities (SFC) cities. In fact, the program has resulted in some on-going partnerships between churches providing a big help in strengthening churches.
Bob Mackey, Embrace Baltimore executive director, expressed great appreciation for the BCM/D and to Southern Baptists from all over North America for their support.
Mackey shared Embrace’s strategy, major objectives and key tasks established and prioritized.
In an April 2009 update report, Mackey reported 6,587 total volunteers were mobilized for evangelism from 21 states representing 99 entities. Over 500 persons were trained for evangelism resulting in 1,330 professions of faith and 458 baptisms. Twenty-six churches increased in baptisms by 50 percent or more representing 35 percent of the churches. Twelve new church starts were confirmed with two new works planned for the fall.
Tim Simpson responded to Mackey, “I celebrate the kingdom stuff with you, that’s what we’re all about.”
Simpson said the report Mackey gave is a good start and that Mackey should be at every GMB meeting to present a report. But Simpson insisted that much more detailed information and disclosure is needed.
“We need to push into these numbers a little bit and ask harder questions,” he said.
Simpson also said men and women from Baltimore Association churches should be involved in the budgeting process.
Ed Reese, pastor of Hazelwood Church, said he feels there is representation.
“Four or five pastors are on a board that gives input and approves the budget. All BBA churches have input through those four or five pastors,” Reese said.
Lee told GMB members that whatever information they want about the BCM/D and its involvement in Embrace can be channeled through him via email and he will make sure the question is addressed.
Mackey asked for prayer for the Embrace staff as they seek new positions and also for prayer that they’re not so focused on 2010 that they miss out on this year. “2009 is a critical year for us,” Mackey said.
Looking ahead, Mackey said a transitional team is in place. How the Baltimore Association will look in 2010 is yet to be determined, Mackey said.
In other news, Lee said a search has begun for a full-time missionary for African American church planting and evangelism. NAMB will partner with us, he said.
Tom Stolle, BCM/D chief financial officer, said that through the first three months of 2009 we are running slightly above both the year-to-date budget and prior year actual in Cooperative Program (CP) receipts with actual receipts totaling $1.161 million. CP receipts for the three months ending Mar. 31, 2009, exceeded last year by $6,403 or .6 percent. Concerning expenses, Stolle said that almost all major expense categories were within budget, with the exception of Convention Missionary Benefits, due to the timing of recognition of medical insurance costs, and BMRC operations, due to slightly higher than anticipated expenditures on equipment and associated maintenance. Operations for the three months ended Mar. 31, 2009, produced excess receipts over disbursements of $18,850.
Concerning expenses associated with the annual State Missions Offering, Stolle said that 2008 receipts totaling $203,850 would fund the specific items associated with this offering in 2009. To date approximately 30 percent, or $61,628 of those funds have been disbursed.
“Overall I am pleased and cautiously optimistic. We’re meeting all of our obligations in a timely manner and not struggling financially. We are in a strong ready cash position,” he said. The value of the funds have continued to decrease from the end of 2008, Stolle noted, due to the continuing decline in the value of equities. The good news, he said, is since the beginning of March the marketplace has experienced a net increase in equity values. Also, Stolle said four churches contacted the Baptist Foundation over the past few weeks about potentially borrowing funds from the Baptist Foundation’s church loan fund. It is encouraging that we are beginning to see activity in this area, he said.
Administrative Committee Report
Rick Hancock, chairman of the administrative committee, presented a recommendation to alter the Naval Academy collegiate minister position to include supervision of all collegiate ministries.
David Lee explained that the BCM/D is about to join with NAMB in a major evangelism campaign which will put a great deal of additional responsibility on the evangelism missionary. The committee felt that hiring a person to work at the naval academy and also supervise the other collegiate ministries would help.
Thom Thornton, BCM/D missionary for adult and collegiate evangelism, said it is a model successfully used in other state conventions.
GMB members unanimously approved the recommendation.
A second recommendation was to consider authorizing the executive officers, which includes the executive director, associate executive director, chief financial officer, president of the convention, president of the GMB and chairman of the Administrative Committee, to enter into negotiations to sell a portion of the BMRC building.
Lee explained that with more staff on the field much of the building space is not used.
The hope is to be able to sell one side of the building, do the necessary renovations and have significant funds in the bank for ministry.
The benefits, Lee explained would be saving money and bringing in new financial resources.
The downside would be that the program staff would not have individual offices. Teaching areas, meeting rooms, work stations for ministry assistants and work offices for those who need to come into the office would still be available. Missionaries would have access to everything they needed from the field.
Lee said the transition would virtually change the way business and work is conducted and would make the BCM/D staff better prepared for today’s ministry needs.
Harold Philips, pastor of Pleasant View Church, Port Deposit, suggested the possibility of leasing half the building to retain ownership.
Lee said that was considered, but it was felt that with BCM/D becoming a landlord, with the accompanying tax issues, would be a distraction and drain.
GMB members unanimously approved moving forward with the negotiations.
Reports from field
David Lee introduced and briefly interviewed Vicki Stewart, collegiate minister at Morgan State College and Lynn Davis, Ocean City resort ministry director.
Stewart shared how she is building relationships at the college by walking around the campus and introducing herself. “I say, ‘Hello, I’m Miss Vicky, how can I pray for you?’” Morgan said energetically.
Stewart said she’s leading a ladies Bible study with about ten girls. She’s also involved in a 24-7 prayer team and is getting involved in a toastmaster club as a way to meet more people.
She asked for prayer for safety and for an opportunity to share the gospel during a mission team she is leading to Brazil. Stewart also asks for prayer that God would send people to the campus to help her as she ministers. She wants to see students saved and moving toward holiness.
Ocean City Resort ministry director, Lynn Davis, said she and volunteers from the Eastern Association and beyond are working with children at a campground ministry and working to build relationships with the lifeguards, fishermen and beach volleyball and basketball players during the summer months.
One of the most vibrant ministries is with the internationals, many from the former Soviet block countries, who come to the ocean to work for the summer. Churches work with Davis to provide dinners on Monday nights. About 120 to 400 students come to the dinners. They also have a coffeehouse ministry on the weekends. Davis said the students are eager to talk about spiritual matters and to get Bibles. She plans to extend ministry to the beach police this year also.
Bob Gerstmyer, executive director of Baptist Family & Children’s Services, reported that 47 children are in the CHOSEN treatment foster care program.
Gerstmyer said BFCS is negotiating with a public entity on the Eastern Shore to provide emergency respite services. He is also excited that the Eastern arm of BFCS has its first certified treatment parent.
Currently BFCS is working to collect 2,000 backpacks for back to school give-aways in the fall and Christmas gifts.
The name for BFCS’s information and referral service was changed to “Help Line.” Since July of last year the line has received 400 calls. The annual goal is 450.
Thirteen families are receiving wrap around services through the Good Samaritan Network.
Gerstmyer said two transitional homes are now occupied. A third home is available in Brooklyn neighborhood.
BFCS is working in the Pen Lucy neighborhood in Baltimore. BFCS has developed a customized resource directory, assessing the community needs and is pulling together a focus group.
The agency is also working the Sharp-Leadenhall community in Baltimore, in cooperation with The Church on Warren Avenue to provide ministry to young mothers.
Gerstmyer said BFCS is in the process of developing regional advisory boards that will be more focused on their communities.
William Peacock, president of the Baptist Foundation said the Foundation is currently servicing 18 church loans. He stated that by the end of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009, the Foundation anticipates earning between $150,000-$170,000 in income on these loans, which will be given to start and strengthen churches within the BCM/D.
Four churches received loans from the Arthur Nanney Church Loan Fund, a small fund established to help churches in emergency situations.
As of Mar. 31, Peacock reported the Foundation has an investment portfolio valued at $4.2 million. Year-to-date investment performance showed a return of (4.1 percent). The planned giving strategy continues to be focused on education and seminars are ongoing. Strategy Team Reports
David Jackson, BCM/D missionary for church multiplication, reporting for the Church Multiplication Team said that there are 27 individuals going through the church planting assessment. “That’s the most we’ve had at any given time since I’ve been here,” Jackson said.
The first quarter of 2009 saw 11 new works begin in the convention including African, Anglo-American, Burmese, Hispanic, Korean and multi-cultural plants.
Jackson said the team is making “gigantic leaps” in using social media and technology to assist in church planting efforts.
“Our guys also believe in taking mission to hard places,” Jackson said. “We’ve had church planters that have gone to West Africa, Egypt, the Galapagos Islands and Nepal.”
Rolando Castro, BCM/D missionary for Hispanic church planting and language churches, shared how Hispanic church planting and ministry is growing and expanding. He told how Jose Nater, church planter and founding pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana Camino de Esperanz, is a bi-vocational pastor whose church is growing, reaching people and expanding. In fact, the church is one of just two Hispanic churches in the convention that has its own building and the church is only two years old.
Castro said graduates of the Church Leadership Development, a program for Hispanics in coordination with Golden Gate Theological Seminary, immediately went into the field to start churches. Also, at last year’s Hispanic women’s conference 87 women attended.
Randy Millwood, BCM/D missionary for missional church leadership, e-quip.net, small groups and seminary extension, reported for the Leadership Development Team. Millwood said last year the team focused on discerning its call. This year, Millwood said, they are focusing on the work of the team and its strategies and initiatives to fulfill the mission.
Millwood said 23 couples participated in the Ministers and Mates Retreat. Many couples responded that they did indeed hear from God through His word and felt renewed. In addition, 160 women attended the Minister’s Wives Retreat. The ministers counseling initiative provided 111 hours of personal counseling to ministers and their families. Two churches have had active church conflict mediation, two had onsite consultations explaining mediation and three have asked for more information.
New initiatives include times of renewal through spiritual formation retreats and a next level skill based strategy for training leaders and teams.
In written reports, Bob Simpson, BCM/D associate executive director, BaptistLIFE editor, and team leader of the Church Services Team, wrote that 143 attended the children’s ministry conference. In addition there have been ten VBS clinics provided in Maryland and Delaware.
Simpson said the team is trying to be intentional in servicing churches. Churches are encouraged to contact the BMRC to develop plans to meet their needs in Bible teaching, discipleship, age group ministries and other church needs.
Ellen Udovich, BCM/D missionary for direct ministries, lay mobilization, ministry evangelism and senior adults, in a written report for the Acts 1:8 Missions Involvement Team, reported that the team continues to facilitate missions education, leadership and skills training, mission service opportunities and assisting individuals and churches in discovering ways to be on mission.
Udovich reported continued growth in the WMU of Maryland/Delaware, more churches partnering with churches in Scotland, one hundred and one boys and men participating in the RA congress held at Middle River Church in March; over 1,000 students participating in servant projects throughout Baltimore during the youth evangelism conference, mission teams from Kentucky doing construction and repair work at Camp Wo-Me-To and ham radio training sponsored by disaster relief.
Upcoming events include Baptist Global Response in home care kits – an initiative to encourage churches to assemble in-home kits to be used by caregivers taking care of home-bound terminally ill AIDS patients in Sub Saharan Africa; girls mission camps, Acteens overnight camps and a mother/daughter camp.
To fulfill its goal of involving all churches in Acts 1:8 ministry, the team will be surveying church missions activity, contacting churches to discover what they are doing in missions/ministry.
Tom Stolle, BCM/D chief financial officer and missionary for ministers’ compensation, church treasurers and stewardship, reporting for the Resource Development Team wrote that the Cooperative Program (CP) is still the major source of funding for Baptist work. The team is continuing to find ways to educate churches about the value and purpose of CP. A promotional mailing was done in March with more than 10,000 pieces of promotional literature sent out to churches that requested it. The team is also seeking to provide quality education to he churches regarding ministers tax training, stewardship seminars and other targeted resource development training.
The team also wants to gather stories from missionaries and others in the field to promote CP. The stories would be used as part of the BCM/D website dedicated to promoting CP.
BCM/D President’s Remarks
President Byron Day, said he is excited to see what is happening in the convention.
Day said it is his heart’s desire that the convention stay focused on who we are as God’s servants and to stay focused on kingdom work.
“It’s easy to be distracted,” Day said.
“I’ve been saved 32 years and I want to stay excited about it. I hope you haven’t gotten caught up in church work instead of showing the love of God.
“I remember when I got saved. I loved everybody and wanted to stand on top of a mountain and say, ‘God loves you! You got to get some of this.’ We need to come back to that.
“I think that’s one of the reasons he gave us Communion—to remind us: don’t forget.”