By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—David Lee, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, smiled as he told General Mission Board (GMB) members at the GMB meeting on Sept. 13 at the Baptist Mission Resource Center that he made a promise to God on a roller coaster at Disney World: if he lived through the ride he would never ride another one!
“Since our last meeting, we have experienced one of the hottest summers on record, another annual meeting of the SBC, more economic recession, an earthquake, Irene and her devastation, ‘who knows’ how many inches of rain, and this past weekend nervously observed the anniversary of 9/11. Someone said to me at a shopping center the other day, “Do you think God is trying to tell us something?” God is always trying to tell us something. But the real question is, “Are we listening?”
Bill Archer, BCM/D missionary for music and worship, led a time of praise and worship before GMB President David Sandvick called the meeting to order. Sandvick shared about a golfing outing. He gave the club a powerful swing, and hit the ball. It shot up in the air and Sandvick caught it in his hand. His golfing pal laughed and said, “Can you do it again?” Sandvick prayed, “God, you always come through for us…you come in a way that exceeds our own wisdom…we ask that you ‘do it again.’”
Report from the Executive Director
David Lee reiterated the mission of the BCM/D, to intentionally assist in the starting and strengthening of congregations, “so that together we can accomplish the Great Commission as given to us by our Lord in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8.”
Lee highlighted some sights to keep focused on “as we continue what feels like our roller coaster ride.”
The budget, Lee said, reflects two good quarters, then setbacks due to Hurricane Irene. “We project a continued, though milder reduction in Cooperative Program (CP) receipts. We will receive less resources from North American Mission Board (NAMB) which has resulted in the elimination of three full-time positions going forward. These positions had been previously “frozen.” In addition, we are seeking to honor the request made to state conventions by the SBC as a result of the adoption of the Great Commission Resurgence report, to send more CP dollars on to the national convention. This has been a challenging journey creating the 2012 budget.” Lee said he lost count on the number of drafts made as the administrative committee worked through the process.
“Despite the challenges, I believe the budget being presented still allows us to maintain our mission initiatives and serve out churches. And just as is the reality in your church, we have had to evaluate and prioritize those things deemed mission critical.
Lee asked messengers to pray for the BCM/D staff as the workloads have increased due to the adjustments. “These are godly men and women committed to Christ and committed to accomplishing the BCM/D mission.”
He urged messengers to stay connected to the attempts to redefine marriage in Maryland, especially now that the governor has personally endorsed the effort. “This is not just politics. This is a moral issue that has far reaching ramifications,” Lee said. If we do not respond and step up we will lose, he added. And it is not just a matter of pastors and denomination leaders taking a stand, it is when the people in the pew begin to stand up that the fight can be won. What gets attention is when hundreds and thousands of Christians say this cannot be, he said.
Lee commended the disaster relief teams and Ellen Udovich for her leadership and sacrificial service in directing the relief efforts during the hurricane and subsequent flooding.
“She did a tremendous job of coordinating the effort,” Lee said.
“I have been burdened for our churches. I am seeing a rise in forced terminations, heightened conflict and hurting and discouraged ministers. Pray for our churches. Pray for our Transformational Church pilot that involves at present 12 congregations.” Lee said round two is being planned.
“With NAMB’s intentional shift to church planting, we as a state convention can turn more time and resources toward helping our existing congregations. Every Maryland/Delaware congregation is important – large membership and small membership churches, new churches and those with long histories, those in the city and those in our small towns, those in the suburbs and those in our rural areas. Together we can strengthen one another.
Lee encouraged churches to contact Bill Simpson, executive director of Open Door Community Development Corporation in Baltimore. “If you want fresh stories and real time experiences giving evidence of the hand of God at work, go down and spend some time with him and those who are sacrificially reaching out to people on God’s radar but often off of ours,” he said.
Lee reported that New Day efforts are encouraging. “We are seeing progress in our New Day effort. Racial issues have long been a hindrance to evangelism and missions. We are seeking to find tangible ways of bringing down those barriers. I see God at work.
“I have seen two types of people when it comes to roller coasters. Some get off, green around the edges, like me swearing to never get on another one. Others rush back to get in line, because they are excited and exhilarated and having the ride of their lives. I am not getting on another roller coaster. But I am not asking God to take me off of this one. We may very well have the greatest opportunity we have ever had to impact this region with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we do this right and we do this together we can have the ride of our lives.“
Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle reported Cooperative Program receipts year-to-date totaling $2,848,614, trailing the year-to-date average in 2010 by $25,952 or 0.9 percent. Receipts were running ahead of budget year-to-date but then fell behind by $18,052. Stolle said it is his opinion that this is due to the impact of Hurricane Irene as many cooperating churches were closed on Aug. 28. Stolle said that for the month of August, CP receipts were $304,607; the lowest monthly amount received since February 2003. Some recovery is likely in September, but some giving will not be recovered.
North American Mission Board receipts of $568,226 are at 56.71 percent of the total year budget, due to vacant positions; but that amount is offset by expenses not being incurred for those vacancies, Stolle explained.
Concerning disbursements, Baptist Mission Resource Center operations are running ahead at 76.10 percent of the total year budget. Stolle said this is largely due to higher than expected equipment, phone and IT costs.
Currently operations are at a deficit of $21,936, however, Stolle said management is optimistic that if CP giving meets the expectations for the remainder of 2011 we should be able to break even. Stolle said last year as of August 2010 BCM/D operations were at a deficit of approximately $56,000 and results were break even at year end.
Escrows and designated dollars available for specific purposes total $415,653, of which $279,524 is designated for church multiplication.
Stolle said the BCM/D is in a “good ready cash position with bills paid in full and on time.”
Administrative Committee Report
Jimmy Painter, administrative committee chairman, announced several staff changes including the retirement of Carol Moore as executive office coordinator, effective Dec. 31. Painter and GMB members expressed appreciation for Moore’s service. Misty Pearson will be filling this position.
Michael McQuitty from the New York Baptist Convention has been called as the new collegiate church planting and evangelism missionary. This is a jointly-funded position through the North American Mission Board.
Joye Jackson will serve as the new ministry assistant for the church multiplication team. Lauren Rodriguez has resigned as the associate director of Skycroft, but will continue to serve BCM/D as communication specialist on a contract basis. Theresa Sassard and Linda Waggoner will retire from BCM/D on Dec 31.
In reviewing the 2012 budget, Tom Stolle told messengers that two sources of revenue make up 85 cents of every dollar received by BCM/D. Seventy cents of every dollar is from CP giving and every 15 cents is from NAMB. “It is clear we can’t do it alone, not without valuable ministry partners. We need each other,” Stolle said.
Other revenue sources are: State Missions Offering 3.5 percent; endowments 3.8 percent; Skycroft Conference Center, 2.7 percent and BCM/D cooperative gifts, 1.8 percent.
CP giving rose steadily from 2003 to 2007 then fell in 2008 through 2010 and has started to level off. Stolle predicts a slight decrease in 2012 to $4,275,000.
The budget also reflects an increase of two percent CP giving being shifted to the national convention for Cooperative Program. The goal is to increase the amount of cooperative program receipts sent out of Maryland and Delaware by an additional one percent each year until year 2020 at which time 49 percent is staying in Maryland/Delaware and 51 percent is going to SBC.
Stolle said with less money coming in and more money going out, decisions will have to be made.
“But there is joy in the journey. As long as God is for us who can be against us?” Stolle said.
Expenses were reduced from $6,238,335 in the 2011 budget to $6,088,104 in the 2012 budget. Most of this is due to a reduction of salaries and benefits of $147,545. Four full time positions were removed from the budget including one retirement from support staff and one new position was added.
Jon Boulet, senior pastor of Hockessin Church, asked whether these positions would eventually be filled perhaps in 2013 as the organization continues to forecast strategically. David Lee said that is the hope, though he said 2013 may prove to be more challenging.
“Great care has been taken to present a thoughtful financial plan, designed to achieve comprehensive ministry to which God has called the convention,” Stolle said.
GMB members approved the 2012 BCM/D budget and a $1,853,520 Skycroft budget. Both will be presented for final vote at the BCM/D annual meeting in November.
Bob Simpson introduced Mike McQuitty, BCM/D collegiate church planting catalyst and campus minister at Towson University. Simpson said McQuitty has three graduate degrees, two at Southwestern and a doctorate from Golden Gate Seminary.
“Young adults are the backbone of the church planting movement,” McQuitty said.
McQuitty excitedly told how he has met with 16 midshipmen at the Naval Academy, and about students at Morgan State University crying as they shared about what God is doing in their lives.
Disaster Relief Update
Ellen Udovich, BCM/D missionary for disaster relief, lay mobilization and senior adults, reported that she was amazed when things were going exceptionally well last year. She and other disaster relief leaders were trying to pull many elements together such as training and supplies.
“At the end of last year surprisingly things went click, click, click and that was suspicious to me,” she said. She told George Blevins, BCM/D disaster relief coordinator, “I am worried. I don’t know what God is setting us up for.”
Disaster relief was in full swing before June with Maryland/Delaware teams deployed to Raleigh to help with spring tornado recovery and to New England to help with mud outs and laundry.
But when Hurricane Irene arrived, disaster relief went into full swing. Southern Maryland was especially hard hit with trees on homes and cars, electricity out and in some instances there was no water. Disaster relief volunteers provided food, laundry services, chain saw help and chaplain ministry.
Udovich requested help from the North American Mission Board and volunteers came from Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina and as of this writing, they’re still working.
”I won’t tell you about the past week, I don’t have time,” a very weary Kerry Hinton, pastor of Lynnhaven Church, Pocomoke, said.
Hinton was called on to serve 1,000 meals at the local civic center in addition to meals going to police and fire departments, workers at the zoo and to other shelters in Salisbury and Delaware.
Hinton held up a yellow disaster relief shirt. “Do you have one of these shirts? Why not?” he asked. “We need more people to help out,” he said.
Hinton said he has a kitchen unit that can serve 5,000 meals a day sitting in the church parking lot and a recovery unit with everything needed for chain saw duty, but no workers.
Udovich said there is a disaster relief training in feeding, laundry, communication and recovery on Oct. 29 at Faith Church, Knoxville, Md.
Reports from Agencies and Convention Committees
Robert Gerstmyer, executive director of Baptist Family & Children’s Services, showed a video about Safe Families, a Christian movement that provides a safety net for children and families. Gerstmyer said that by becoming a Safe Family, taking in a child for a short period when a family is going through a crisis situation, abuse and neglect can be prevented instead of dealing with the issues after they happen.
It’s old fashioned biblical hospitality, Gerstymyer said. “We don’t practice that as much anymore so we don’t have the opportunity to entertain angels,” he said.
Tom Stolle reported for Baptist Foundation. Stolle said the foundation currently provides loans for 16 churches. The Foundation has earned a net income of $100,198 on its church loan fund, including the interest paid by churches. Those funds will be used to start and strengthen churches within the BCM/D.
Stolle reminded messengers that the Foundation, through its Arthur Nanney Church Loan Fun provides small emergency loans to churches.
As of June 30, the market value of the investment portfolio was $6,548,557. For the quarter ended June 30, the portfolio performance reflected a return of -2.3 percent in equities and 1.6 percent in fixed securities. The twelve-month return for equities was 30.8 percent and was 4.1 percent for fixed securities.
Stolle said the Foundation is continuing its emphasis on planned giving.
Reports from Strategy Teams
Freddy Parker, BCM/D missionary for Acts 1:8, partnership missions, men’s ministry, prayer and bivocational ministry, reported for the Missions Involvement team. Parker said the team is committed to “getting you where you need to go.” He and Gayla, Freddy’s wife and WMU missionary, recently took a mission team to Mindano in the Philippines. Others who accompanied the Parkers were: Harold Phillips, pastor of Pleasant View Church, Port Deposit; James Dixon, pastor of El Bethel Church, Fort Washington; Ron Yost, pastor of Cumberland Community Church and his wife Terri; and Fred Dyer, pastor of White Marsh Church and his wife, Kay.
The team led a group of four pastors and their wives, teaching pastors and their wives, teaching and encouraging them in the areas of discipleship and evangelism training. Parker and the others taught in partnership with the Southern Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary in Davao City.
Other missions involvement ministries include summer camps, resort ministries and disaster relief.
“The work of church multiplication has picked up steam as the year has progressed,” reported David Jackson, BCM/D missionary for church multiplication, for the Church Multiplication team. Jackson, in a written report, said to date there are 22 new works underway this year in eight of 11 associations. They include: African-American, Anglo-American, Burmese, Chinese, Filipino, Haitian, Hispanic, Japanese and Korean.
“We believe that the numbers of church plants will again number in the 30’s before the year is complete,” Jackson said.
Jackson reported that NAMB, recognizing that the BCM/D’s assessment process is the best currently available in the Northeast and Canadian regions, are using it as a template for others in building standardized processes across the country.
“BCM/D’s church multiplication efforts are being recognized in other ways, as well. Kevin Marsico, pastor of NorthStar Church here in BCM/D, has been contracted by NAMB to assist in training local churches in how to parent new church plants throughout the North East and Canadian regions. Ellis Prince, planter of Gallery Church in Baltimore, was a speaker at the continental meeting NAMB held last week in Atlanta for all state convention personnel. Ellis and Samuel Cho, who has planted Korean, Burmese and Nepalese churches in Baltimore, were highlighted by NAMB at their annual exhibit during the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Arizona recently,” Jackson wrote.
BCM/D Associate Executive Director Bob Simpson presented a written report for the Church Services team. The team has been working to complete their proposal for the 2012 budget. Highlights of the proposal include assisting with funding of a new major initiative, Transformational Church (TC), already begun as a pilot in 12 churches. This fall, those churches will share results at a wrap up retreat.
“TC provides the CSST (Church Services Strategy Team) with an innovative and powerful tool for churches that are experiencing being plateaued or initial decline and need to do a thorough evaluation of where they are and where they need to focus their immediate attention,” Simpson said.
The team encourages churches to view and support the new Sherwood Pictures movie, “COURAGEOUS,” due in theaters on Sept. 30. “‘COURAGEOUS’ is a movie that has the power to be a catalyst in changing men, families, and ultimately churches. The impact “Fireproof” made on marriages, COURAGEOUS was to have the same impact on men and families,” Simpson said.
Randy Millwood, BCM/D missionary for missional church leadership, small groups, seminary extension, spiritual formation and E-quip.net, in a written report for the Leadership Development and Support (LDST) team, cited successful ministries including several ShepherdNet groups “which had lively dialog about BCM/D mission and other boards/agencies, as well as our newest group (women in ministry) which met to address self-care and ministry goal setting.”
The team partnered with Riva Trace Church, Davidsonville, Md., to become a premiere host site for the Willow Creek Association Global Leadership summit. In addition, the team has included two new retreats for Restore My Soul – a Servant for Ministry Couples retreat and a Simplifying Life retreat. They has sponsored personnel involved soul coaching (spiritual direction/friendship) and ministry strategy coaching. Also, the LDST sponsored the African American Awareness Conference in May with 50 pastors and ministers in attendance.
Tom Stolle reported for the Resource Development team. Stolle wrote that the team continues to focus on promotion of Cooperative Program giving and planned giving.
“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 67 churches requesting 9,875 promotional bookmarks. Another mailing was done in September, issuing promotional literature to all requesting churches.
Churches received flash drives last month that includes CP resources.
Seminars are available for planned giving education and financial stewardship.
Ad-Hoc Committee Reports
Byron Day, pastor of Emmanuel Church, Laurel, and past BCM/D President, on behalf of the Constitution and By-laws committee, submitted a proposed change to Article II and V.
The change for Article II is adding “No church will have more than two representatives simultaneously elected to serve on BCM/D committees, the General Mission Board or as a trustee of a BCM/D institution or agency.”
The change for ARTICLE V concerns eligibility for membership on boards. “Each member of the General Mission Board and trustees (this removes the words “and directors) of any agency of the convention will be a member, for at least twelve months preceding election, of one church which cooperates with this convention.
Board members approved the change. Messengers will give the final vote at the annual meeting in November.
Other Business or Reports
Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Church and a member of the SBC Executive Committee, reported that the national convention voted on a motion to affirm that SBC entities would show initiative and more involvement in looking for ethnics to be involved in leadership.
BCM/D President Ken Stalls encouraged messengers to make plans to come to this year’s BCM/D annual meeting Nov. 13-15 at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau in Ocean City and to encourage their members to attend.
Stalls referred to Ephesians 5:17-20: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“I have to confess sometimes I’m not too good with the last one,” Stalls said. He told of Sept. 11 Sunday. There were many situations happening. First responders were invited and just one-fourth of those invited showed up. Many members were away for vacations and other reasons.
“My heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t giving thanks for all things,” admitted Stalls.
After the service, a young man approached Stalls and gave him a bear hug with tears in his eyes. The man was a college professor and a first responder. He was visiting his brother in the area and had looked for a church in a phone book.
“Thank you for the beautiful service,” the man told Stalls.
He went on to say that his church had never invited first responders, and that they couldn’t even get that many people to attend church.
Stalls said he has his devotional time every morning, even Sundays, but this Sunday he was rushing and didn’t get to it. That night, he read his Bible and came to the Ephesians 5 passage. He fell on his face and asked God to forgive him.
Stalls encouraged messengers to make a point daily of giving thanks.
“It is the Lord’s will to give thanks,” he said.