Posted on : Monday June 4, 2012

By Sharon Mager,

BCM/D Correspondent

COLUMBIA, Md.–Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware Executive Director David Lee told BCM/D General Mission Board (GMB) members, “…we are experiencing the best beginning of a year that we have seen in the 18 years I have been a part of this convention staff.” Good news prevailed at the meeting, with potential historic church planting, “our best year ever in collegiate evangelism,” and slow, but sure, increases in Cooperative Program giving.

The BCM/D General Mission Board met at the Baptist Mission Resource Center on an overcast May 8. Bill Archer, BCM/D missionary for music and worship, opened the meeting at the Baptist Mission Resource Center with a medley of favorite hymns including “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand,” and “In Christ Alone.”

GMB President Kerry Hinton talked about change, illustrating by sharing how he asked his members to hold up their Bibles and many raised iPads and other digital tablets. Hinton referenced the Apostle John’s description of the church in Ephesus in the book of Revelation, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” (Revelation 2:2-4)

“What do they love first? We have good doctrine, good programs, but who is falling in love with Jesus? Where does it show? Where does it show with me that I’ve fallen in love with Jesus?”

Hinton said when he counsels married couples who say they’ve fallen out of love, he asks them what did it take for them to fall in love the first time and to go do it again.

“Work at staying hot,” Hinton said.

Executive Director’s Report

David Lee reiterated BCM/D’s mission of “intentionally starting and strengthening of congregations so that together we can accomplish the Great Commission given to us by our Lord in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8.”

Lee told of his time ministering on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi near Pascagoula, the home of Ingalls Shipbuilding. Before he left, the port city had also become a homeport to a fleet of Naval vessels.

There were many upsides to living on the coast, Lee said, but there was also the downside of the occasional threats of hurricanes. He told how people boarded their homes and businesses and how grocery store shelves quickly emptied. Most evacuated but some chose to “ride it out.” Many small boat owners would back up their trailers and pull their boats from the water.

“But you don’t load a missile cruiser or a battleship on a trailer and pull it out of the water. The better option for them was to leave the dock and put to sea. They could better weather the storm on open waters.

“That was always a scary thought to me–move your ship into the heart of the storm. Yet every leader understands that to be part of the assignment.

“I begin today my 13th year enjoying the privilege of serving Maryland/Delaware Baptists in this role as Executive Director. I have understood my role as keeping us focused on the mission amidst storms and distractions. I believe that is also your role as a General Mission Board.

“The last several years with the Great Recession, the radical shifts at the national level of our convention, cultural battles, and challenges of penetrating darkness in our mission field have felt like we had put to see in the midst of a storm. I believe, however, that despite the fury of the storm, we have been able to keep our focus on the mission. I will not go as far to declare that the storm has passed. It does, however, appear that we are in a better place as a result of the experience.

“It is our desire to avoid storms, but it’s in midst of the storm God speaks the clearest and loudest. We are stronger today despite the change and challenges than we were before the storms began to approach our shore.”

Lee said storms help determine what is priority and strengthen one’s resolve. Those who chose to stay and “ride it out,” couldn’t’ change their minds mid-storm. Staying requires one to be creative and to be dependent on God.

“I stand before you today to affirm that we are experiencing the best beginning of a year that we have seen in the 18 years I have been a part of this convention staff.

“We have more church plants in progress now than any previous year at this point heading to what may be an historical year in church multiplication.

“I have never witnessed the degree of impact we are having on our college and university campuses.” Lee said it has been a struggle to “turn this ship into the wind,” but the ministry is now on target and expanding. “I believe this to be our best year ever in collegiate evangelism.”

“We are seeing God stirring in our churches. Pastors and church leaders are dreaming again.” Lee said churches are calling the convention more for consultation and for connections to resources.

“We continue to see progress with Embrace Wilmington. Urban ministry is a challenge. But we are learning. I am encouraged by the plans for Embrace Silver Spring. We are preparing to launch at our annual meeting at Global Mission Church in Silver Spring.”

Lee referenced networks of churches strategizing to do something about poverty in their neighborhoods, an “explosion of interest” in Disaster Relief; progress in planting and strengthening language churches; an increasing impact of African American leaders locally, nationally and around the world; new Women’s Missionary Union groups and the progress of the Christian Women’s Job Corps; pastors considering greater hands-on involvement with world mission; music camps being planned in Baltimore; open doors for resort ministries; continued impact from VBS; great early returns from Transformational Church programs and new tools to tell the story of what God is doing in Maryland/Delaware.

The 2013 budget will help us “reset our priorities and focus our resources on ministry that has the greatest impact,” Lee said.

“The storm is not over. Cultural storms threaten to plunge us deeper into the darkness, Lee warned, adding that he is particularly concerned about attempts in Maryland to redefine marriage. “I encourage our churches to be vigilant and to be involved. We have a genuine opportunity here to be salt and light.” Lee said there are still financial challenges. He urged messengers to pray and participate in this year’s Mission M/D State Missions Offering.

“Pray for the Southern Baptist Convention. There is always potential for us to become distracted. We must not allow the storms and the distractions to take our focus away from the mission.”

Financial Report

Tom Stolle, BCM/D chief financial officer, reported that Cooperative Program giving was $1,108,782.42 for the first three months of 2012. This was slightly ahead of last year by $3,583.07 or .3 percent. ”We’re excited about that,” Stolle said. Cooperative Program receipts are slightly ahead of the year-to-date budget at 25.94 percent. Stolle expects receipts from April will exceed the budget due to five Sundays in April.

North American Mission Board receipts for the first quarter are $172,814.00, which is 18.72 percent behind budget. This is due to timing of the funding of ministries NAMB supports, Stolle explained.

In disbursements, cooperative missions is slightly over budget at 25.91 percent. Stolle said that amount reflects what we are sending out ahead of time, and includes a 2 percent increase.

Expenses are running ahead of budget. Stolle said a few things are driving that, including convention benefits expenses. This is timing, Stolle said, as we recognize medical expenses a month in advance before the end of the year. “This is due to the method in which we are billed by our medical provider. At the end this, balances and all expenses are appropriately recognized,” Stolle told messengers.

Increases in Baptist Mission Resources expenses are due to a transition to Apple equipment to bring everyone on a single platform, which is more cost efficient. Stolle also pointed to a one-time contribution of $10,000 to CentrePointe Counseling due to the current demand of counseling services for pastors and their families.

The bottom line ($91,330.05) is typical for the first quarter because of the timing of expenses, Stolle explained. “Expenses for the first quarter are always heavier than revenue. First quarter deficits from 2010 and 2011 were ($103,582.44) and ($40,643.45) respectively. There is also the factor of the “hard cost” of two percent Cooperative Program giving going to national misisons. Stolle said management and staff are carefully monitoring the budget.

Regarding State Missions, $180,619 was received in 2011 to fund 2012 work. We are monitoring these expenses and will spend no more than the amount received designated to this offering.

Looking at the balance sheet, Stolle said the BCM/D is in a good ready cash position paying bills in full and on time. Endowment fund values total $2,691,251.57. “We benefited from a strong first quarter for equities,” Stolle said. The Skycroft endowment will be spent down by about half of it s value to do various improvements at the conference center.

Escrows total $363,490.13 by which $147,573.77 is specifically designated for church planting. In addition, another $44,551.44 is designated for Embrace Wilmington and could support those planting initiatives.

“Thank God for what he is doing for the BCM/D,” Stolle said.

Administrative Committee Report

Administrative Committee Chairman David Sandvick shared the 2013 Budget Planning Process. David Lee briefly explained the step-by-step process.

“We don’t plan the budget, we resource the plans,” Lee said.

Lee asked if the board would consider meeting early for the September meeting to spend more time discussing the budget.

GMB members approved a motion to begin September’s GMB meeting early for the budget discussion.

Board members passed a recommendation from the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, adding to Article II Section I the words, “In the event of a vacancy between Annual Meetings, the President shall appoint members to fill that vacancy as an interim until approval at the Annual Meeting. This would apply to all BCM/D committees.”

Sandvick explained that the change gives the board president the authority to appoint GMB members to committees in the event of a vacancy between annual meetings.

Sandvick requested GMB members to let him know if they were interested in serving on a Strategy Team. It was suggested in the last board meeting that each Strategy Team have a GMB member assigned to it.

Strategy Team Reports

Church Multiplication Team

Church Multiplication Missionary David Jackson said church multiplication is like planting apple seeds and hoping they result in trees full of fruit, with seeds to produce more trees – and even orchards.

“The Cooperative Program helps plant those seeds,” Jackson said.

Jackson said BCM/D is off to a great start in 2012 church planting with 25 plants underway. Ten out of 11 associations are involved in church planting operations.

These new works include more African-American work than in many years. Other ethnicities represented include: Anglo, Hispanic, Haitian, Filipino; East Indian; Nepalese; Vietnamese and Romanian. Ghanese and Arabic churches will be coming soon.

Acts 1:8 Missions Involvement Team

Ellen Udovich, reporting for the missions involvement team explained how the team assists Maryland/Delaware churches in developing, implementing, and strengthening their mission strategies. “We want to help you with whatever God has put on your heart to do,” Udovich told GMB members. “Your church may be doing a lot of different projects but never thought through it intentionally – how are we leading people to be engaged in missions in Judea, Samaria and around the world?”

Udovich said some churches may be doing a lot but not be rooted in prayer. The Acts 1:8 team can help develop prayer strategies. “Tell us how we can help you amplify your mission,” Udovich said.

Another function of the team is facilitating the mission offerings, such as Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong and the State Missions Offering. “We have an amazing diverse mission field.

There are about a half million students enrolled in colleges and universities in Maryland and Delaware and 350 are involved in Bible study on campus or in a church based collegiate effort. “We’re making progress but you can do the math…we have to expand our presence on the campuses.”

We are now approaching almost two dozen language groups in our churches, but how many languages are in this region? There are more than 167 different languages spoken just within the Montgomery County School system.

“If we are to communicate the Gospel to people in their heart language so they can understand and accept Christ as savior, and collectively reach the nations God has brought to our backyard we are going to have to step up our language work and accelerate our church planting efforts.

Acts 4 tells the story of Peter and John thrown into prison then taken out and told they have to stop talking about Jesus or else. What do they do? They say we can’t stop! That’s the theme of our Mission Maryland emphasis this year. We can’t stop, Udovich said.

Will we accomplish our mission if we stop planting churches? If we stop reaching college students? If we stop sending Lynn Davis the ministry tools she needs to share the gospel with thousands of young adults each summer? If we stop providing hope and healing to poor people and disaster victims, to those stumbling in darkness and have no clue how to find the light?

“This is our mission field. We can’t stop.”

Samuel Cho, pastor of Bhutani and Nepal Baptist Churches stood and told GMB members what a blessing Udovich has been to his church, regularly coming to help teach children. “She has touched my heart so much. I greatly appreciate her,” he said.

Leadership Development and Support Team

In a written report, Randy Millwood, on behalf of the Leadership Development and Support Team, shared that almost 5,000 training films were viewed through the online E-Quip training.  “Since many of these films are viewed by two or more people at a time we have likely trained over 7500 church leaders through this initiative,” Millwood said.

Other highlights include the Ministers’ Counseling Service which has served 22 new ministers and/or ministers’ family members in 2011; ongoing support for assistance with church conflict management; The African-American Advisory Council retreat at Skycroft Conference Center and an Awareness Conference in Columbia; Ministers and Mates Retreat; Ministers Wives Retreat and Ministers Wives Brunch; Restore My Soul retreats; ShepherdNet and coaching services. Centro de Entrenamiento Ministerial is in its fourth year of training Hispanic leaders.

Church Services Team

Mike Watterson, Church Services Team Co-leader submitted a written report.

During the first four months of 2012 the Church Services Strategy Team has been learning about the changes taking place in BCM/D concerning our strategy teams. As we discussed these changes we have also been working on visioning what the future holds for us, and for BCM/D churches. As a team, we see relationships and networks are the key to what we do. We are not event creators and we desire to see that we build long-term relationships with a variety of constituents. As our team evolves over the next year, we believe discipleship, Transformational Church and graded ministries will be our primary focus. Highlights of these priorities include VBS, Children/Pre-school Ministry, Music/Worship and Spiritual Formation.

The CSST is currently working on crafting its 2013 budget using its allotted flex dollars. The team has prioritized the areas of ministry it has traditionally sought to initiate within the BCM/D. Each of its determined top priorities will be put into a percentage basis. These percentages will be reviewed annually and will guide the use of the team’s flex dollars for 2013 and beyond.

Two areas traditionally serviced by the CSST will be moved to the Acts 1:8 Missions Involvement Team. They are (1) Evangelism and (2) Collegiate Ministry. Collegiate Ministry is also often titled Collegiate Evangelism due to our close relationship with the North American Mission Board. And therefore is also part of the overall evangelism strategy for BCM/D. The current team leader for the Acts 1:8 Missions Involvement Team is Ellen Udovich. Since Ellen is our convention’s State Director of Evangelism for the NAMB, it makes sense for all evangelism strategies and funding to be resident with her team.

LifeWay update:  Eric Geiger is the new VP for LifeWay’s Church Resource Network Division in Nashville, Ten. David Burt has been named the LifeWay representative for all areas of Maryland/Delaware except for Baltimore City replacing Garry Jennings who will still be on point for Baltimore City. There is a new focus at LifeWay on Transformational Discipleship. Geiger has a new book on discipleship that will be premiered at the upcoming SBC in New Orleans (June 2012). In other LifeWay news: The new 2011 NIV does NOT contain gender-neutral terms and LifeWay will continue to sell the 2011 NIV. LifeWay’s official translation, however, will continue to be the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

Resource Development Team

Tom Stolle in a written report for the Resource Development Team, said the team continues to focus on a strategy of Cooperative Program promotion, 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 said. A mailing was completed in March with 61 churches requesting 8,955 promotional bulletin inserts. Another mailing will be done in September issuing promotional literature to all requesting churches.

In 2012, the strategy includes the production of targeted printed material. Various churches will receive promotional material with a specific group targeted each quarter. Hispanic churches will be receiving the next quarterly contact.

Additionally, new pastors will receive a “welcome packet” from the BCM/D letting them know they are important to us. This packet will include a current issue of BaptistLIFE, staff listing with contact information, a speakers’ list, information about Cooperative Program and other items that may be helpful to a new pastor. The objective of the welcome packets is so the new pastor will know the BCM/D cares for him and is praying for him and his family.

Regarding planned giving promotion, it is anticipated that in 2012 there will be seminars offered in cooperation with the law firm of Davis, Agnor, Rapaport and Skalny.

Education continues to be a focal point with a variety of seminars and individual meetings on topics including offered including financial stewardship; minister’s tax training, and helping pastors, treasurers and other church leaders concerning establishing and maintaining a system of internal control, safeguarding church assets, preparing budgets and overall financial stewardship.

Embrace Wilmington Report

“A lot has happened in Wilmington. I’ve tried to make things happen. I can’t make things happen. I have to seek the Lord and work with churches who have a vision to see disciples made,” said Mitch Dowell, Executive Director of Embrace Wilmington.

Dowell told of everSpring Church in Bear Delaware under the leadership of John Coleman. everSpring baptized ten people at Easter. They moved from a Boys and Girls Club to a new location. Dowell said everSpring is three years old. Coleman, due to the normal decrease in funding, had to become bivocational to support his family and continue the ministry. “If you would like to partner with everSpring, or you know of a church looking for a partnership, please let me know. I will continue to aggressively search for partners as I travel the country,” Dowell said.

Bethany Baptist Church is working with Alexis Vides as he plants an Hispanic work in Newport, just outside of Wilmington. Vides and his team are working tirelessly to build their core group and develop leaders. They meet for worship in another part of the building. Videz and others have been going into the Hispanic neighborhoods to build up the church. He hopes to plant two Hispanic works in the region this year.

Church planting has always been a focus, Dowell said. “It’s not always easy. There’s a problem finding church planters – men who have a passion that will come here and plant churches. My vision for 2012 is to assist our churches to plant two Hispanic works and one urban work in the city of Wilmington.”

Dowell told of Hockessin Baptist Church’s LOMA Coffee, a vision to establish a ministry point in the city. “The coffee shop would be a place where the people of the LOMA (Lower Market Street) Community could meet, have conversation, fellowship and establish relationship.” Dowell said LOMA has been a huge success. “Its the place where we listen and learn about the community and how to best minister to its diverse population.” LOMA opened “LOMA Lounge” on April 13 in the adjacent property to the coffee shop. “It will be the place where the Good News will be communicated in various ways from simple conversations about God to worship services and Bible studies and more. Hockessin’s vision is to ultimately plant a church in Wilmington.

Hockessin hosted the first ever Wilmington Church Planting Conference in January. Church planters from all over Maryland and Delaware, including some non-SBC churches, attended.

“I’m excited about what’s going to happen as it relates to church planting all over the state of Delaware,” Dowell said.

Dowell told of Iron Hill Community Church reaching its community through their Celebrate Recovery ministry and their Common Ground Cafe.

Solid Rock Baptist Church is reaching urban youth through a sports evangelism basketball league.

Dowell said he continues to meet with business and civic leaders throughout the city. “We are still establishing relationships between our churches and para-church organizations in the city. Several of our churches are working with Urban Promise, The Sunday Breakfast Mission, The Boys and Girls Club and the Delaware youth for Christ in efforts to impact the lives of people in the city of Wilmington.

“Prodigal the Movie” premiered in February. This was a movie made by local young people in Wilmington in partnership with Embrace Wilmington, Delaware Youth For Christ, and Film Brother’s Movie Coop. “A lot of relationships were formed with that simple little movie,” Dowell commented.

In April, Embrace Wilmington hosted a poverty round table with 11 participants. The group began discussing how to partner and address the issue of poverty in the city.

Agency Reports

Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware

John Schoff reported for the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware. Nineteen churches have outstanding loans from the church loan fund. For the six months ending March 31, the Baptist Foundation earned a net income of $62,342 on the loan fund, including loan interest paid by churches. These funds will be used to start and strengthen churches within the BCM/D. Current estimates indicate this earned income will total between $130,000 to $140,000 at end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The market value of the investment portfolio as of March 31 was $6,895.352, reflecting a return of 8.4 percent. Equity values had a nice “bounce back” in the first quarter.

New funds totally $400,000 were invested with the foundation by an affiliated church during the last quarter.

The Baptist Foundation continues to focus on planned giving and education.

Baptist Family & Children’s Services

Debbie Marini, interim director of Baptist Family & Children’s Services gave the BFCS report.

Marini told GMB members that BFCS can help churches “plug into” family ministries.

Marini said BFCS said goodbye to two families in a transitional housing program and said hello to two new families. She thanked the many churches who have visited the office to respond to some of the needs of the families.

The agency is busily planning back-to-school activities, providing school supplies for 1300 kids at various sites.

Marini said she has been speaking to many churches about the collective impact partnering with BfCS can make in giving kids and families a new start.

Many agencies offer transitional housing, foster care, and similar programs but BFCS offers the hope of Jesus, she said.

Remarks from the Convention President

BCM/D President Ken Stalls ended the meeting sharing about the importance of first fruits.

Stalls referenced Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

Suppose you’ve lost your job and your family has been eating macaroni and cheese, sardines and crackers for seventeen days. A kind friend shows up with a roast and a big box of food then prepares the meal and sits down to eat with you. Then you serve your family a nice meal and give the guest the greasy scraps left in the pan.

“That’s what we so often do with God,” Stalls said.

We often assume first fruits refers to money and worldly possessions, but first fruits goes beyond money, Stalls said.

“I began thinking about this and God really confronted me and said the first fruit I’m really interested in is your will. If we’re going to say Jesus is Lord he deserves the first fruits of everything in our lives. “We’ve got a great future ahead of us. If the Lord tarries were going to see some great things but not if we arrogantly hold onto our wills. God is in control. Let’s acknowledge Him by surrendering to Him our will.”