Posted on : Wednesday December 16, 2015

By Sharon Mager

The December 8 Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network General Mission Board (GMB) meeting at the Baptist Network Center started with a mixture of worship music and Christmas carols led by Stan Graham, pastor of Pathways Church.

Network President Bill Warren called the meeting to order, leading in a time of prayer based on Psalm 18:1, “I love You, Lord, my strength.”

Mike Trammell, GMB President

“You don’t give us Your strength, You are our strength. Without You we can do nothing,” Warren said.

David Orr, GMB Vice President, announced the new GMB officers, naming Mike Trammell as president and Donna Jefferys as the acting recording secretary. The assistant recording secretary position is open.

Outgoing GMB President Mark Dooley warmly assured attendees that, “it has been a blessing to serve in this capacity.”

Warren stepped forward to say, “This man (Dooley) has given us stellar leadership and it has been a privilege to serve by his side.”

“Our prayer and desire is to be faithful,” Dooley stated as he led in prayer. “We can only be faithful because you make us that way…make us faithful people who desire nothing but Your glory and to see Your kingdom expand… May people look at churches of the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network and see Jesus—see Him shine brightly!”

Dooley prayed for Mike Trammell, “Thank you for his many years of faithful service. Bless him, Lord. Use him, empower him and guide him in all that he does so that through him and this group Your name may be honored and glorified.”

Mike Trammell said he was honored to have served on the GMB for more than 13 years. “It’s always something I look forward to, coming to meetings and the relationships we develop are such a blessing…but it’s all about serving our Lord.”

Trammell welcomed new GMB members. “It’s important to understand we serve the churches of the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network and that is going to be something I use to evaluate virtually every decision I make and action I take—what is in the best interest of churches,” he said.

Trammell announced a Feb. 8 committee organizational meeting, providing an opportunity for committee members to meet, get organized and just get a “fresh start.”

Trammell also said he is appointing six board members to serve as ex-officio members of each of the three staff committees as they plan budgets for the coming year. Trammell said he wants to reinstitute leadership of the board in the Network.

Financial Report

Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle told messengers that Cooperative Program (CP) receipts are down by 8.2%. This is due to churches giving less. “That is not a surprise by virtue of the trend we have seen since 2008,” Stolle said. Stolle said there is often a surge of CP giving in December and receipts don’t come in until January. “We will have to wait to see how churches respond,” Stolle said.

Income from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) is down, but some of that is permanent due to the new strategic agreement with NAMB. The Network no longer provides compensation for church multiplication strategists Michael Crawford, Rolando Castro or Robert Kim.

Also, a portion of NAMB funds sent throughout the year for evangelism and church planting efforts will be recognized into the income prior to the end of the year.

Stolle explained those funds are held in trust until documentation allows them to be recognized as income.

Tom Stolle Chief Financial Officer

Tom Stolle
Chief Financial Officer

GoFwd Mid-Atlantic year-to-date receipts total $343,268.64. Some of those receipts will be deferred into 2016 income to support the five major initiatives. The decision was made in the 2016 budget to revert the State Missions Offering back to a separate budget category, necessitating receipts from prior year to fund current year ministry expenses, reverting to the method of resourcing established prior to 2015.

“All major expense categories are running within budget,” Stolle said. “The staff utilizes really good stewardship, helping us deal with the CP shortfall.” Stolle thanked the staff. “It’s hard to do more with less,” he said. “Management does expect all major expense categories to be within budget at year end,” he said.

Stolle reported that currently, through October, the bottom-line shows $88,628.42 “to the good.”

“Please note that we do face uncertainties before Dec. 31. I don’t know what the CP total will be. Much of where we end up in 2015 from this point forward will be a direct result of final CP receipts.

Regarding Skycroft, income totals $1,841,207.33, which is consistent with expectations. “From a budget standpoint, we are running ahead of the year-to-date budget,” Stolle said. But there are some concerns. There are a few weekends through the year end that are not booked. This impacts income. Receipts will likely fall slightly short of 2015 budged expectations due to this fact.

Skycroft operations, guest relations and food service are all running ahead of budget. Stolle said he would expect this, since year-to-date income is running slightly ahead of budget. “More guests to serve result in higher cost,” he said.

Stolle said management decided to continue setting aside cash in reserves for future improvements to continue to build that balance. Funds to renovate the house at Kamp Kaylor have been spent out of operations, thus hitting the bottom line for approximately $35,000. Also, Skycroft has funded church connections efforts, which have become a priority for our Network, in 2015, resulting in an additional impact on operations. These expenses will be incurred out of Columbia operations in 2016 as Doug Dubois’ position shifts to that portion of the budget in 2016.

Stolle said through ten months, operations present a deficit of $67,614.22. This year-to-date deficit is largely due to the expenses associated with Kamp Kaylor and the Network connection effort. Stolle said management anticipates breaking even at year-end.

“The Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network is in a good ‘ready cash’ position with its bills paid in full and on time,” Stolle reported. Escrowed funds, funds held in trust for a specific purpose or at a specific designation total $614,169.19. Of this amount, $202,121.15 is specifically designated to church planting. Additionally, the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware will be sending another $123,779 to the Network to start new churches and strengthen existing churches.

Foundation Report

Tom Stolle reporting for the Baptist Foundation said 15 churches have outstanding loans from the church loan fund. Income earned for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 totaled $123,779.25. This will be distributed to the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network to start churches and strengthen existing churches.

Three churches have outstanding loans from the Arthur Nanney church loan fund, established to provide funds for small, emergency loans to churches.

The market value of the investment portfolio was $6,986,158 as of Sept. 30. The one yea portfolio performance reflected a return of (1.6%) due largely to a soft quarter; however, the three-year portfolio performance returned 6.5%.

The foundation continues to provide education to churches and is positioned to manage endowment funds for churches and associations while saving them money on administration. For more information, see www.bcmd.org/baptist-foundation.

Strategy Team Reports

Joel Rainey announced his call to serve as lead pastor of Covenant Baptist Church, Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Rainey said Covenant is a Network member, so he will still be working within the Network.

Rainey said he loves this Network of churches. “Never have I felt more positive about the convention and the future,” he said.

(See Joel’s full report in a separate BaptistLIFE article)

Michael Crawford, reporting for the church multiplication team said prayer is their primary strategy. “We’ve felt your prayers and we need it,” he said.

Crawford said he has a great church planting “squad,” that meets regularly, talks about praise, reaffirms priorities and values, discuss plans, and prays. “I’ve never seen such as sense of oneness and unity. I’m really excited; it’s just the beginning,” he said.

A church planter orientation is planned for Jan. 15. Crawford said he is committed to church planters, to seeing that every funded church plant is coached and cared for.

(See Crawford’s full report in a separate BaptistLIFE article.)

Executive Search Committee Report

Victor Kirk, chair of the executive director search committee

Victor Kirk, chair of the executive director search committee

Victor Kirk, chair of the executive search committee said there are currently six candidates for the position of executive director. Kirk said the committee has started the initial interview process with plans to further vet and check references.

“Our focus is on character and competency,” Kirk said. “We are not rushing the process,” he said, though adding that a new leader could be put in place as early as the summer of 2016.

Mark Massey, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, expressed concern for International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries sent home due to a downturn in support. “Our missionaries feel like they’re under siege,” Massey said. He urged churches to pray and support these missionaries.

Massey said perhaps it’s time to reconsider partnership missions around the world.

“It could revitalize us…and tangibly take us to the ends of the earth,” Massey said.

 Rick Hancock report

Rick Hancock, interim executive director

Rick Hancock, interim executive director

Rick Hancock gave his first GMB report as interim executive director and shared family and personal information. He shared that he and his wife, Lisa, have been married for 25 years, and that Lisa works as a school secretary. The couple has four children.

Hancock said serving in this capacity is a “humbling experience and opportunity,” that actually made him tremble.

He began serving as the Mid-Maryland director of missions on Aug. 1, transitioning from his role of pastor at Dunkirk Baptist Church for 12 years.

Hancock said he believes pastors are in the trenches. “You are front line soldiers,” he told GMB members. “We as a Network and associations simply come alongside and help you do what you do better and more efficiently,” he said.

“My focus is on being willing to do whatever it takes to be obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hancock challenged GMB members to renew their commitment to listen to Jesus for instructions and to obey His commands. He referred to Luke 5, the story where Simon Peter casts his nets in obedience to Jesus, even though he fished all night and caught nothing. “Every time, Simon obeyed. He did exactly what Jesus told him to do. As a Network and staff, we must renew our commitment to obey Christ, he said.

“Being fishers of men–that’s our purpose, that’s our calling. Our sole purpose is to reach people.”

He told GMB members to “do whatever it takes to rebuild and renew partnerships with each other

“2016 is a promising year for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network,” Hancock said referring to a new executive director, new initiatives, and renewed partnerships.

As a Network, he said, we must still focus on starting churches and strengthening churches.

Hancock prayed, “We are so thankful you’ve called us to serve you in unique and wonderful ways. Let us continue to do whatever it takes to partner in the harvest…in common unity…to love, forgive, partner and serve. Reignite the passion and fire to serve faithfully and make a difference for the cause of Christ in Maryland/Delaware. May we be found faithful in what you have called us to do.”

President’s Address

Network President Bill Warren told GMB messengers, “Grow a beard.” Warren was referring to men in his church, himself included, who will not shave their beards until the church reaches their Lottie Moon Christmas offering goal. Warren said his church has increased their goal by 50%.

Regarding IMB’s recalling missionaries from the field due to financial challenges, Warren said the fault does not lie with IMB. There’s not enough money because our churches have failed to send enough money to keep those missionaries on the field. We need to increase our giving through CP and be done with excuses. We need to increase funding to CP.”

Bill Warren-72

Bill Warren Network President

Warren said his church, Allen Memorial Church, Salisbury, voted to increase CP giving by 1% and, “we’re not done yet!” Warren said he is delighted that the convention has decided to give more. He referred to his home state, Florida, which sends out more than it keeps.

“We really need to push Lottie Moon,” he said.

Warren also said churches must move forward with prayer and evangelism. He recommended the book, “Transforming Prayer,” by Daniel Henderson. Warren said he book has made a huge difference in his life, and the life of his church.

Regarding evangelism, Warren suggested the book, “Cultivating a Life for God,” by Neil Coles. “Using the principles in the book has brought life changing transformation,” Warren said “After 31 years, I’ve finally found a way to disciple people. This works and changes people’s lives,” he said. The practice includes reading up to 30 Bible chapters each week, holding one another accountable, and praying for the lost.

Charlie Arnold, pastor of Seaside Church, Del., dismissed the session with prayer, “You are a sovereign God, a loving God, Who cares, Who doesn’t forget us, Who provides…we ask for wisdom, not as the world but as You would have…that we might serve You, serve churches…let us go fishing, find men and women who are lost…more than anything, we want to say we love You.”