Editor’s note: BaptistLIFE published individual reports about the May GMB meeting earlier in the year, but this article is the compiled report as printed in the summer edition of BaptistLIFE’s quarterly magazine.
By Sharon Mager
MIDDLETOWN, Md.—Members of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s (BCM/D) General Mission Board (GMB) celebrated some good news at their May 8 meeting at Skycroft Conference Center.
Members voted to welcome three churches to the BCM/D: Hillcrest Baptist, Temple Hills; Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.; and McLean Bible Church, Vienna, Va.
They also heard positive updates on church planting and disaster relief as well as reports from the International Mission Board and the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.
Following a time of worship led by Phil Gifford, pastor of Connecting Church, Abingdon, GMB President Curtis Hill shared encouragement from the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. Hill noted that many think of the passage as a “to-do” list.
“But Jesus leads not with the law but with grace,” Hill said. He opens the Beatitudes with blessings, Hill continued. “I hope you receive the blessing Jesus pours over you.”
He prayed, “We’re thankful to hear blessings. We do mourn, hunger and thirst for righteousness because we lack it and seek it…. Give us ears to hear, leadership that walks in integrity and character. We pray that we would decrease, and You would increase.”
Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle reported that Cooperative Program (CP) receipts for the first quarter ending March 31, 2018, totaled $905,013.22.
This is down ($18,894.02) or (2.0 percent) from the first quarter in 2017. We are also down from budget year-to-date, as we budgeted to receive $925,000 in CP receipts in the first quarter, he said.
We are not greatly off, just trailing slightly. Stolle said the good news is that the additional churches affiliating with the BCM/D will likely strengthen overall CP receipts.
Receipts year-to-date from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) are slightly lower than expected. This, however, is tied to the timing of submissions for various evangelism projects we are involved in as well as receipts of requested church planting funds, he said.
Regarding disbursements, as of March 31, 2018, all major areas are within budget except for the Church Planting Team, which is running slightly ahead of budget. This is due to slightly higher planter support than expected at this point in 2018.
Concerning the bottom line, Stolle said the quarter ending March 31, 2018, shows a deficit of ($20,435.93) compared to ($31,366.36) last year. Management believes that assuming CP holds, operations will break even at year end.
Receipts of $156,244.68 received in 2017’s State Missions Offering are used to fund 2018 initiatives. To date, $21,152.48 has been expended, mostly on disaster relief.
Regarding Skycroft Conference Center, Stolle reported income for the quarter ending March 31, 2018, totaling $677,620.42, running ahead of budget. Through March 31, 2018, overall expenditures have been less than expected.
Reporting the Skycroft Conference Center bottom line, Stolle said year-to-date operations yielded a net income of $127,940.67. Barring unforeseen events, management anticipates operations to break even at year end.
“The BCM/D is in a good, ready cash position with its bills paid in full and on time,” Stolle reported.
Invested reserves total $2,631,611.30. Escrowed funds (funds held for a designated purpose) total $732,930.63. Of this amount, $222,546.67 is specifically designated to church planting.
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 anticipated distribution to total between $90,000 to $105,000.
Two churches have an outstanding loan from the Arthur Nanney church loan fund. Established in 2006, the Arthur Nanney fund is used for small, emergency loans to churches.
As of March 31, 2018, the market value of the investment portfolio was $8,166,063. The most recent calendar quarter portfolio performance reflected a return of (0.3) percent. The one-year performance reflected a return of 9.6 percent, and the three-year return totaled 5.6 percent.
SBC Executive Committee Report
David Hall, who serves as an SBC Executive Committee member representing BCM/D and D.C., reported to messengers about former SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page regarding his retirement following a “morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.”
Hall said, “These are trying times. I’ve been on the Executive Committee since 2012, and this is the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced.”
Florida pastor, Stephen Rummage, chairman of the Executive Committee, called a special meeting in Nashville on April 17. “We had very few absences for such a quickly called meeting,” Hall said. A search committee was formed at that time and has accepted nominations.
Hall asked messengers to pray for the Executive Committee Vice President, D. August Boto, who is serving as interim president.
Tim Simpson reported on the International Mission Board (IMB) presidential search and the unique opportunities and challenges faced by the Southern Baptists’ largest entity.
Simpson, pastor of Greenridge Baptist Church and first vice-chairman of IMB’s board of trustees, said Chuck Pourciau, senior pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., is chairing the presidential search committee that is seeking the replacement for David Platt, who requested to step down as president this past February.
The committee has been receiving names of potential candidates, and they are prayerfully reviewing them. They hope to have a candidate to present at the fall IMB trustee meeting in Richmond, Simpson said.
In the meantime, “David Platt is serving wonderfully as our president, and he will serve until his successor is chosen,” Simpson affirmed.
Read Simpson’s full report on www.bcmd.org.
Church Planting Report
“Our church planting paradigm is simple: Churches plant churches,” said Michael Crawford, church planting team consultant and state director of missions.
Crawford said the September church planting assessment is full, February’s assessment is filling up, and the candidates are coming from BCM/D churches. Pastors are now recognizing potential planters or couples that may be ready to go out soon or maybe in a few years.
“I’m excited about the number of churches coming forward,” he said. Read Crawford’s full report on www.bcmd.org.
Disaster Relief Report
Doug DuBois, state director of evangelism and state director of disaster relief, explained that Southern Baptists have been providing disaster relief for decades. In fact, Robert “Bob” Dixon, who pioneered Southern Baptist disaster relief ministry more than 50 years ago—seeing DR deployments as “invitations from the Father”—died earlier this year at age 90.
Comparing DR teams to SWAT teams or fire departments, DuBois said each volunteer is trained for specific interests. In Maryland/Delaware, DR volunteers can specialize in feeding, laundry, showers, administration, chaplaincy, and recovery work, such as chainsaw work and mud-outs and ash-outs, as well as provide temporary roof tarping.
“The only people who can go are those who are trained,” DuBois emphasized. By preparing ahead of time, volunteers can choose to respond to deployment requests when the need arises. Those interested in participating can read more about DR and register on the BCM/D DR website, https://md.disasterreliefonline.com.
For those who want to help for a specific event, the North American Mission Board offers opportunities through SEND Relief, a compassion ministry that focuses on disaster response, as well as ministries related to poverty, refugees and international students, foster care and adoption, and human trafficking. SEND Relief also oversees GenSend, which seeks to mobilize college students for mission projects.
BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith said, “Nationwide we need to be more intentional about getting college students and young professionals who have some flexibility with time DR trained so when disasters happen we have people who have flexibility who can say I can take 10 days here or there. That’s the thrust behind making some of the training more mobile and virtual. “The desire is to obey our Lord as He says to love our neighbor,” Smith said.
Executive Director Report
“Last year, we spent time rebooting how we plant churches, this year we’re retuning how we serve our churches, and also because of things happening globally, just making sure we emphasize how our churches can get connected to DR and SEND Relief, and to international missions opportunities,” BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith told GMB members.
Smith said he also wants to encourage churches to have a direct engagement in their community, working with schools, or smoke detector programs through the American Red Cross. These types of activities help us to love our neighbors and meet people.
Some churches are engaging their communities by reaching out to families with special needs. Smith referred to a BCM/D special needs conference at Freedom Church, Baltimore, in partnership with The Banquet Network. “It was well attended. I’m grateful for churches who are faithful to that demographic,” he said. Smith also expressed his appreciation to BCM/D churches who participated in “Night to Shine,” an event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation each February, offering proms throughout the country for those with special needs. He also recognized Ogletown Baptist Church, who has activity rooms and sensory rooms in their buildings to minister to families with special needs.
Looking ahead, Smith said the retirement rate of pastors in the next five to seven years is outpacing that of those graduating seminaries. There is a need to recruit pastors, he said. In conjunction with that, Smith is seeking unused parsonages to perhaps house interns for six months to a year.
Additionally, Smith said there is a need to help pastors feel more comfortable talking about and planning for retirement. “We must create a culture of transition,” he said.
Continuing an emphasis on strengthening the relationship between the BCM/D staff and churches, Smith said, “I think it’s important to be a trusted partner for churches that will be in transition before those churches are in transition.” The convention staff is much more likely to be trusted in time of transition if there have already been previously established relationships. As connections are made, staff can help assess churches, to determine their health to know how to help.
Several pastors had questions regarding the recent inappropriate sexual remarks and misogyny reports regarding national Southern Baptist leaders. Smith said The Christian Life and Public Affairs (CLPA) will soon be scheduling four regional meetings around the convention to address issues of the environment of ministry regarding male and female relationships, and legal expectations requirement regarding child safety. A district attorney and police who serve in sexual assault and crimes against children will be in attendance. “It’s vital to have pastors informed of those matters,” Smith emphasized.
“We’re in a hurting time. It’s a great time to be prayerful,” he shared, adding that we’re also in a humbling time. “We’re in need of grace. We’ve had leaders resign. It’s hurtful. But if you read Israel’s history, it’s never bad to be humbled by the Lord.”
Michael Trammell, BCM/D president, said, “It’s my joy to continue to serve Maryland/Delaware Baptists. I count it a privilege for over 26 years to call Maryland/Delaware my home, and I look forward to continuing to serve under the leadership of Dr. Smith.”
Trammell asked the question “Why does the BCM/D matter?”
“In moments of frustration, we may have thought or said denominations are dying and the work they do is somehow not as relevant as it used to be. I’m here today to tell you that’s not true!” Trammell said.
Referring to Ephesians 4, Trammell said the world is lost without Christ. Churches need all the help they can get. Churches need what state conventions can provide—a support system, counsel, and all kinds of assistance and partnership.
Trammell went on to say BCM/D matters because:
- Lost people are futile in their thinking. “Their thinking is such that the Bible says it’s vanity,” he said.
- Lost people are spiritually blind. “We live in a world where people’s minds have been darkened by spiritual things.”
- Lost people are excluded from God. They’re alienated, they have no fellowship. “Churches need training and support systems so they can reach these lost people whose lives are darkened,” he said.
- Lost people have no knowledge base at all about spiritual things.
- Lost people’s hearts are hardened, like a person under anesthesia—not awake to the true state of things around him. “We must remind them that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”
- Lost people are calloused, past feeling. They have lost the capacity to feel right and wrong. “That’s a good explanation why so much that’s unconscionable and almost unmentionable goes on without checks from society. A person who has lost the sense of pain can get hurt by putting his hand in a hot fire.”
- Lost people are addicted to sinful behavior. Have you ever known someone who has a child addicted to drugs? Time after time they think somehow they’ve experienced victory to find the child going through it again. Lost people give themselves over to lewdness and greediness. They give themselves over to evil.
“Together, we as a convention must partner with churches—the churches that we serve, to carry the Gospel to our lost region before it’s too late.
“We must ask the question again. If not us, who? If not now, when?”