By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—General Mission Board (GMB) members met on Sept. 10, in an historic meeting prior to the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware annual meeting in November. Members approved a recommendation by the executive director search committee to call Will McRaney as BCM/D’s executive director. They approved the 2014 budget and a recommendation to sell land in St. Mary’s County.
Bill Archer, missionary for music and worship, led a time of praise, leading “Desert Song” and “Let Praise Arise.”
Kerry Hinton, GMB president and pastor of Lynnhaven Baptist Church, opened the meeting referencing 1 Peter 5, “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing…”
BCM/D’s associate executive director Bob Simpson presented certificates to outgoing GMB members and thanked them for their service.
BCM/D Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle said Cooperative Program (CP) receipts totaled $2,434,745.75 as of July 31. Year-to-date receipts are running 1.1 percent behind budget, a deficit of approximately $44,000 and about 2.3 percent behind last year-to-date, a deficit totaling $57,800.
Total year-to-date receipts were $3,142,575.10, which exceed disbursements. “We are in the black, $43,684.47 in July,” Stolle said. He cautioned that expenses are likely to increase as the fall approaches.
Concerning expenses, convention operations are running ahead of budget. The main reason is the legal costs from the sale of the easement at Skycroft Conference Center. Messengers at last year’s annual meeting voted to disallow the use of easement proceeds to pay for the financial costs of the transaction, resulting in legal costs in excess of what was anticipated when the original budget was approved.
Stolle explained that funds received for the State Missions Offering in the prior year, mainly from September to December, fund the current year expenses. State Missions offerings from last year totaled $187,984.
Skycroft income exceeded the budget by $236,957.44 to date. Stolle said income is not earned evenly throughout the year. Approximately 75 percent of Skycroft income is generated from May through September. Management anticipates Skycroft will break even by year-end.
Funds from the sale of the Skycroft easement have not been received because settlement has been delayed. The most recent communication indicates that settlement will occur in October.
Stolle said the BCM/D is in a good “ready cash” position with bills paid in full and on time.
Strategy Focus Area Reports
Randy Millwood, strategist for Church Wellness, challenged GMB members to work in groups and agree on three qualities or characteristics of healthy churches. Answers included: Gospel preached; discipleship; purposeful evangelism; peaceful conflict resolution; vision; unity; godly leadership; church multiplication; demonstration of love, hope and faith; Christ-centered; obedience to God, effective mission strategy with action now; outward focus; passionate worship and purity.
“When we (the Church Wellness group) sit down and start talking we have the same problem…the list goes on and on. What does a healthy church look like?” Millwood asked.
The group’s “working definition” is: A healthy church is purposefully transforming… “We are transforming and we are making a transforming difference in this region.”
Millwood said that means being transformed increasingly to the image of Jesus—people are walking out of darkness into light, from disappointing habits to freedom and experiencing a New Testament kind of transformation in their lives.
Millwood said the Church Wellness group is working to discern how to impact the region by impacting churches.
Jim Jeffries, pastor of LaVale Baptist Church, prayed for the team. “We want to make an impact on the kingdom… and may we indeed work together so Your kingdom is expanded and looks more like Jesus every day.”
David Jackson, strategist for Church Multiplication told GMB members, “The BCM/D doesn’t start churches. Associations and networks don’t start churches. In essence, Jesus is the one who starts churches. ‘I will build my church’ (Matt.16:18). As His Bride, the church has an opportunity to partner with Him in this endeavor.”
Currently there are about 30 new church planting projects occurring in almost all of the Maryland/Delaware Associations. Before the year-end, Jackson said the team is hoping to see new works begin among the Romanian, Mongolian and Thai populations in the area.
Jackson reported that the team has shifted the focus of their efforts for qualitative and quantitative multiplication to the parent or sponsor churches.
“In addition, we are developing a new ‘team’ church planting approach, especially for our ethnic churches. This will focus us on greater involvement with the parent church, as well as producing a different church planting assessment process. Also on the horizon are multisite church training opportunities and efforts to help revitalize churches, using church planting characteristics.
“We have assessed more candidates this year than virtually any previous year, through the end of August.” Jackson said, “Our training methods continue to expand, with online, classroom and written materials. We have placed about two dozen students, interns and apprentices into the field (what NAMB is calling ‘the farm system’) for the first time ever.”
Ken Stalls, pastor of South End Baptist Church, prayed for the team. Stalls thanked God for the excitement, for how groups are being touched. “Continue to keep the vision flowing and expanding…,” he prayed.
Ellen Udovich reported for Missions and Evangelism. Udovich shared the vision of the group: “That every church will actively engage in mission strategies that lead to every believer sharing the Gospel, every person hearing the Gospel and new churches being planted as lost people experience a saving relationship with Christ.”
Udovich said God has been at work and just in the past 30 days has been doing “amazing things.”
Doug DuBois, missionary for student evangelism and director of Skycroft Conference Center, shared about “reCHARGE” summer camp. The staff bussed 840 students to Frederick to do outreach ministry.
BCM/D LoveLoud Missionary Grace Schofield shared about mission camps at Skycroft. Teams slept at the conference center and worked in Frederick. They started tutoring programs in inner city schools and had opportunities to share the Gospel off school grounds.
BCM/D Collegiate Church Planting Missionary Mike McQuitty said 3,794 students were impacted through collegiate ministry throughout the last school year. Nearly 600 were involved regularly in discipleship. Two hundred nineteen students shared Jesus with another person. “We’re teaching them how to share the Gospel,” McQuitty said. Fifty-seven students made confessions of faith.
Grace Schofield led summer missionary orientation in Ocean City. Campus ministers participated and took students out to practice hands-on witnessing.
In Annapolis, the new semester began with 113 Midshipmen in Bible study at the Naval Academy.
At Salisbury State, three young men who graduated are now leading the ministry and 40-50 students are participating.
McQuitty said Baptist Collegiate Ministry is committing to a minimum of 1,500 Gospel presentations from students and staff. “We believe this is the time of harvest.”
Udovich encouraged churches to be prepared for the impact of the Nov. 7 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s initiative, “My Hope.” People are praying all over the world for this effort, Udovich said.
Joseph Blanton, pastor of Cobb Island Baptist Church, prayed for the team. “Thank you for these initiatives …help us to be bold… give us wisdom to implement things for Your glory to reach the lost for Your kingdom so the population of hell will be minimized.”
Reports from Agencies and Convention Committees
Baptist Foundation President John Schoff reported that 17 churches have outstanding loans from the church loan fund through the end of June. The Foundation earned a net income of $102,808. The income will be used to start and strengthen churches. Current estimates indicate earned income will total between $130,000 and $140,000 at the fiscal year end Sept. 30. Currently, the fund is exhausted, but the Foundation expects to be able to offer loans again near the end of 2013.
Five churches have outstanding loans from the Arthur Nanney fund, established to provide small emergency loan funds for churches. These funds are still available.
The market value for investments as of June 30 was $6.9 million, which reflects a three-month portfolio performance of 0.3 percent. The one-year portfolio performance reflected a return of 12.3 percent.
Reports and Recommendations from Convention and GMB Committees
Ron Smith, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Havre de Grace, reported for the Constitution and Bylaws Committee.
GMB members approved two additions to the Bylaws regarding Article III Avoidance of Illegal Action: “No action of this Convention will be construed as authorizing its committees or related agencies to take any action that may be contrary to the law.” The addition is: “…unless such laws are contrary to the Convention’s statement of faith. Specifically, the Convention will not allow any Convention property or facilities to be used for the purpose of solemnizing or celebrating any same-sex marriage.”
The second addition was regarding Article III Section 3 Membership: “The membership of this Convention will consist of messengers who are members of Baptist churches which are in friendly cooperation with this Convention and sympathetic with its purpose and work, and which have during the preceding 12 months (October 1 through September 30) been bona fide contributors to the work of this Convention.” The addition is: “Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”
Smith told messengers legal counsel has been consulted regarding the changes.
BCM/D messengers will vote on the recommendations at the annual meeting in November.
Administrative Committee Report
Tom Stolle presented a detailed analysis of the proposed 2014 budget.
The budget combines both BCM/D and Skycroft. The BCM/D total budget is $6,078,040 and the Skycroft budget is $2,010,017 for a combined total of $8,088,057.
Stolle shared that 70 cents from every dollar the BCM/D receives comes from Cooperative Program (CP) giving.
“This is why CP giving is so important. If we have a number of churches cut back giving, it hits us hard. If several [churches] ramped up their giving, it would affect us positively,” Stolle said.
The next largest contributor is the North American Mission Board (NAMB), which contributes approximately 15 cents of every dollar.
“NAMB provides almost one million dollars. They are a good partner,” Stolle said.
The 2013 budget reflects $4,250,000 in anticipated receipts. Based on year-to-date dollars, management believes it is likely receipts for the remainder of 2013 will fall a bit short of budget expectations.
The proposed 2014 budget incorporates no change from the 2013 budget concerning the percentage of CP dollars leaving Maryland/Delaware. The proposed percentage split remains at 56.5 percent staying in Maryland/Delaware and 43.5 percent sent to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for distribution to missions, seminaries and agencies.
Stolle explained that BCM/D’s goal is to increase one percent each year until 2020 with the ultimate goal of 51 percent leaving the convention. Accomplishing the task is a cooperative effort, tied to churches’ increase in CP giving. Declining CP receipts have hindered the effort.
A new BCM/D ad hoc committee is being formed to help promote CP giving.
Regarding the Skycroft budget, the income reflects serving 22,350 guests staying at least one night paying user fees. Camps serve 2,200 students.
Skycroft will support BCM/D missions causes in 2014, contributing $125,000.
Jon Boulet, pastor of Hockessin Baptist Church, said that as a result of the recent sale of a conservation easement, Skycroft would be receiving the funds it desperately needs to make needed repairs and should be retaining the funds for depreciation rather than giving them away.
Stolle said they’ve started a “journey” to ensure Skycroft has the funds to maintain improvements. Funds will be set aside by Skycroft each year designated specifically for future improvements to the property.
Concerning the Cooperative Program, Boulet, expressed disappointment that BCM/D was not continuing the one percent increase as originally planned. Boulet said regardless of the financial situation, BCM/D should still give the additional amount. Boulet made a motion to give the one percent as committed.
Bob Simpson explained to GMB members that the original motion was contingent upon churches increasing their CP giving.
Steve Fehrman, pastor of Southern Calvert Baptist Church, calculated that if 500 churches gave an additional $84 annually, the CP goal of increasing one percent to SBC would be met.
GMB members rejected the recommendation to send the one percent now, but approved a recommendation that if budget receipts exceed the budget amount, the extra funds would go toward the one percent increase.
Sale of St. Mary’s County Property
GMB members voted to sell land the BCM/D holds in St. Mary’s County that was donated by Norris Pyles. The property consists of 45 acres located on the north and east sides of Bay Forest Road in Lexington Park, Md., east of Route 235. All of the parcels would have to find percolation sites to be buildable. Some have failed “perc” tests in the past. Some are sufficient to meet standards for a “mound” septic system.
The appraised value is $457,000. With commission and fees, the estimated net cash to BCM/D upon the sale would be $404,315.
GMB members voted to approve the listing of the property and to approve the adjustment of the sale price if the $450,000 is determined too high or a viable offer is received for less than the list price. An adjustment greater than a reduction of $50,000 in list price would be brought back to the Administrative Committee for approval.
Funds from the sale would be set aside to fund Church Wellness initiatives. Church Multiplication and Missions and Evangelism receive significant dollars from NAMB. Church Wellness receives no NAMB assistance.
BCM/D listing of the property does not require BCM/D messenger approval. However, the sale of the property does require approval.
GMB members also approved a motion to allow Baptist Family & Children’s Services (BFCS) to become an autonomous agency. The change comes at the request of BFCS. “The requested change would benefit BFCS by allowing us to extend our efforts, outreach and working relationships to evangelical Christian churches other than Baptists,” explained Sandy Wehunt, chairman of the BFCS trustee board in a recent BaptistLIFE article. (See article “BCM/D seeks to honor request by Baptist Family & Children’s Services to be an autonomous agency”)
Executive Director Search Committee Report
Charlie Brown, reporting for the executive search committee, recognized those on the committee and behind the scenes who, “sacrificed ministry hours and days searching for an executive director.”
Brown explained that the search began in 2013 with prayer, seeking God’s wisdom. Simpson and Stolle were approved to run the day-to-day business in the interim.
“On Aug. 13, Dr. Will McRaney and his lovely wife Sandy came to Maryland to meet with the Administrative Team and spend some time with the executive staff and search team. Today the administrative team is wholeheartedly recommending McRaney to the General Mission Board for your consideration as the next Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.”
Members unanimously approved the recommendation and welcomed McRaney with a standing ovation.
McRaney said he has a love for the church and a love for servants.
“The hardest job in America is to pastor a church,” McRaney said. He told GMB members that he and the BCM/D staff are here to make the task slightly less difficult.
He and his wife, Sandy, have three daughters, Blakeney, Hadley and Macy and, Sandy added, a male dog named Sonny.
Sandy said she’s always made it a point to try to follow God and when she met Will, she made it a point to follow Will. She said she is looking forward to working with the people of Maryland/Delaware, “…the things that await, the partnerships that will come about. I am very proud of my husband.”
John Gauger asked McRaney about his leadership style.
McRaney said he will lead as a servant and as a collaborator–listening to the Holy Spirit, discerning and making decisions.
“We need courageous leadership,” McRaney said.
We have a misconception about what it means to be a shepherd. Shepherds were courageous, he said.
“I’m not afraid to do hard things. We know who the winner is in the end.
“I’m a strategist. I understand organizational alignment around a mission.
“It’s going to be a pretty exciting time,” McRaney said. “It’s not for the faint of heart.”
Samuel Cho asked McRaney what vision he has for minority ministry. McRaney responded that though he has no set agenda regarding minority ministry, he’s “excited about what I read and hear about what’s taking place.”
McRaney was asked, “If you had one word for pastors and lay leaders to encourage us going forward regardless of the decisions made today what would be your word for us?”
He responded, “God is still on His throne, still using His church and people desperately need Christ. I think sharing the Gospel is the single greatest act of love there is.”
“Sometimes ministry is a struggle,” BCM/D President Robert Anderson said.
When Israel was going through a tough time, struggling with idols, God gave Ezekiel a vision of God. He saw the glory of Christ in the hardest days of economic ruin with no political hope. But God was there.
“When Israel was in slavery in Egypt, God said, “I AM who I AM.” God was there.
“God was there in Assyrian captivity. He even raised up Jonah to remind the Gentiles that God was there.
“Whatever burdens or challenges you’re going through, remember the last words in the last chapter of Ezekiel, the last verse – remember the last words,” Anderson said, “Jehovah Shammah.”
“…And the name of the city from that time on will be: The Lord is There.”