By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—The General Mission Board (GMB) of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) met on May 6, 2014, and approved recommendations for an overall rebranding initiative and the initiation of a pilot project to explore a new relationship with the BCM/D and the Eastern and Delaware Baptist associations.
Bill Archer led worship. General Mission Board President Mark Dooley read Psalm 143:10, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let Your good spirit lead me on a level path.”
Dooley said we have a great Spirit leading us, the Holy Spirit. “We’ve been on rocky terrain, but we’re going forward and it’s going to be level ground.”
Report from Executive Missional Strategist
Executive Missional Strategist Will McRaney told GMB members it is a turbulent time in the country and in churches. The church is in decline and the United States is the fourth largest mission field in the world.
But we have a great opportunity, McRaney said, because “the world is coming here.” People are drawn to our neighbor, the nation’s capitol.
McRaney said there are 52 nationalities and 72 identified people groups that worship at First Baptist Church of Laurel alone.
“The mission field is here,” McRaney said.
He referenced David’s army at Hebron in 1 Chronicles 12:32, “From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.”
“We need to understand the times we face,” McRaney said.
He referenced Judges 2:10, “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.”
Like the generations after the crossing of the Red Sea, we’re growing up a generation that knows not God, McRaney said. Culture has shifted. “It’s an exciting time to do ministry but it’s not for the faint of heart.”
The BCM/D staff is here to help. “That’s the reason we exist. The center of the Christian universe is the local church,” he said.
McRaney gave an overview of general BCM/D business including Roy Thomas’ retirement and the addition of Facility Support Services Specialist Adron Dozat.
Sean Copley, a former BCM/D employee, will be helping part-time with design and branding as part of the communications team.
Ellen Udovich has transitioned to oversee the Love Loud ministry. Wendy Mindte is helping McRaney with strategic initiatives.
McRaney said the BCM/D is also working to fill the positions of African American church planting specialist, mission/evangelism and a full-time position to work with Randy Millwood in the area of church health.
There have been changes in the area of technology, saving over $50,000 with increased productivity and some overall facility maintenance.
The collegiate ministry is exploding, exceeding all of North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) targets and boldly leading the way. “How many missionaries, pastors and deacons will come out of our collegiate ministries?” McRaney said.
McRaney shared some updates from the field, including The Church at Severn Run reporting a high attendance of over 2,000 and 220 written professions of faith. He also shared about a pastor who taught a member how to share his faith. That member went out and led someone else to the Lord the same day.
“We’ve got a lot of great things happening,” McRaney said. “Don’t be afraid to let us know what’s going on. Give us good news, share your challenges.”
Chief Financial Steward Tom Stolle, reported Cooperative Program receipts for the last three months ending March 31, 2014, totaled $1,060,032, which trails last year-to-date by only $7,800 or .7 percent. Essentially, receipts are even with last year.
“Thank God, He continues to bless our work and we pray that He is pleased with the efforts,” Stolle said.
David Jackson, BCM/D church multiplication team leader, said 2014 has been the best year ever in church multiplication, averaging two new churches a week.
“We have seen more church plants by May 1 than at any time in remembered history,” Jackson said
A healthier church is purposely transforming,” Randy Millwood, BCM/D team leader for church wellness, said. Those transformations, individually and as a church, result in making a transformational difference throughout the region.
A “Turning Around Church” pilot is continuing with eight “bold pastors and courageous churches,” Millwood said. They have made a covenant promise to one another and to God to become externally focused.
GMB members approved the following recommendations as a part of an overall rebranding and supporting of the mission and ministries of the BCM/D:
1) Approve the use of a “Doing Business As” (DBA) of “Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network” to substitute for “Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware,” to be affirmed by the messengers at the Nov. 9-11 meeting.
2) Expand the ways churches can invest in our Cooperative Misisons to include providing a viable, visible and ongoing way for churches to invest financial resources to strengthen and start churches throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region; and
3) Make nomenclature adjustments/clarifications to the Annual Meeting/Convention as the Annual Celebration.
BCM/D Director of Communications, Shannon Baker, and Sean Copley, via video, gave a presentation explaining the rebranding process in-depth.
“Our goal is to make the BCM/D brand one worth ‘bookmarking’ for those who experience what we have to offer. We want to read between the lines and find the common thread that ties together what we stand for, why we do what we do…then tell that simple story with consistency, excellence and integrity,” Copley said.
Baker said the emphasis is “going forward” as a convention. The reference is an Annie Armstrong “rally cry.” Armstrong, Baker shared, was referencing the Israelites, after leaving Egypt had come to the Red Sea. The chariots of Pharaoh were bearing down on them. They were trapped. God told Moses to tell the people to go forward. Rebranding is an opportunity for a fresh beginning to move forward.
Messengers also approved a recommendation to initiate a pilot project to explore a new relationship with the BCM/D and the Eastern and Delaware Baptist associations.
In a written report by Ellen Udovich, the Acts1:8 mission and evangelism team leader, Udovich said the team ministers to equip churches through the “Love Your Neighbor/Share Christ” initiative, an evangelism and misisons e-newsletter; disaster relief, community assessment and prayer-walking and regional missions education for boys.cNetworking opportunities include: region-wide Women on Mission Retreat; disaster relief ministry rebuilding homes in Crisfield that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy; assembling health kits; and networking through the Southern Baptist Convention and Crossover events in Baltimore.
For the last 11 months, Collegiate ministry reports there were 3,561 personal Gospel presentations with 66 recorded decisions for Christ; 1,934 students equipped in evangelism, 41 organized mission experiences with 315 students participating, and 71 new units started including evangelistic dorm Bible studies, peer discipleship groups and new campus ministries.
Second Vice President Steve Hokuf, pastor of First Baptist Church, North East, referenced Romans 16. He highlighted Pricilla and Aquilla. Paul mentored them, befriended them, loved them. Hokuff traced the actions of the couple in their self-sacrificing service to Paul.
They were fellow workers, but they had full time jobs. They were tent makers, yet they loved the Lord and were faithful followers.
We need to lead people to the Lord, disciple them, and send them out.
Hokuff said in II Timothy, 4:19, the last words of Paul who died a martyr’s death after writing it, wrote, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.”
“Almighty God thank you so much for the people we serve…we represent churches and churches aren’t buildings and budgets, we’re people…I thank you for those people.”