By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—David Lee, BCM/D executive director, presented his final report to the General Mission Board (GMB) on a rainy May 7, thanking the GMB for the privilege and opportunity “for nearly two decades to live my dream.” Lee will retire on July 31. GMB members expressed their appreciation for Lee and his wife, Sherry, for the leadership they have provided for the past several years. BCM/D staff, committee chairman and agencies presented quarterly reports and GMB members welcomed new staff.
Bill Archer led GMB members singing songs of praise: “How Great is Our God,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “He Knows My Name.”
Kerry Hinton called the meeting to order. Hinton quoted a letter found on the desk of a pastor in Zimbabwe after that pastor was murdered for preaching the Gospel.
“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable my mission clear. ..I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ…”
Hinton prayed, “Heavenly Father, I thank you for the opportunity to be with those who love you, who are called according to your purpose, who lift up your name, who praise you, who preach for you, who live for you, who walk for you. Thank you for such a great family. And today as we come to do your business we come seeking your wisdom your guidance….”
Report from Executive Director
David Lee began his message as he always has, reiterating the mission of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware: “to intentionally assist in the starting and the strengthening of congregations so that together we can accomplish the Great Commission as given to us by our Lord in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8.
“I have never tired of reminding us of our mission. It has been the heart of what has bound us together. I hope that these words will remain the centerpiece of this work as you journey forward. We are in the Great Commission business. It is what makes all of this worthwhile,” Lee said.
He told GMB members the state convention is at a “good place,” in a position for God to expand his kingdom’s work here in one of the most strategic mission fields in the world.
“I walk away with a great sense of optimism and faith about the future, that ‘He who has begun a good work among us will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
“I want to say ‘thank you’ to you. The General Mission Board of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware has given to me the great privilege and opportunity for nearly two decades to live my dream. What a great honor and privilege it has been for both Sherry and me to serve Maryland/Delaware Baptists.
“This is my last official GMB meeting with you as executive director. My report to you is this:
• This convention is strong and focused. There is a clear mission. The strategy centered around church multiplication, church wellness, and Acts 1:8 evangelism and missions is the right strategy. We witness daily the hand of God at work as he leads us.
• You are served by a marvelous, spirit-filled, gifted, and committed staff. I have no concern at all about the upcoming time of transition. The focus and strategy should continue without a hiccup because of their capable leadership and servant spirit.
• The future is as bold as your faith, your faithfulness, and your vision. At the end of the day this is about our Lord Jesus Christ and the church He established. We have chosen to cooperate together in advancing His kingdom knowing that we can do much more together than we can individually. I do, believer, however, that we have yet to see and achieve what God desires for us. There is so much more that he wants to show us and do through us, but we need some more jars!
Lee referred to 2 Kings 4:1-7, the account of the widow’s oil. This is the story of how a member of Elisha’s prophet school died. The man’s widow came to Elisha and cried for help. The family owed debts they couldn’t pay. Creditors were coming to take her sons to sell them into slavery. Elisha asked the woman what she had in the house and she replied that all she had was a small jar of oil. Elisha told the woman to go to her neighbors and ask for jars and to pour oil into them. “Don’t ask for just a few,” Elisha says.
“That makes absolutely no sense,” Lee said. But the widow, trusting God and Elisha, obeys.
When she ours the oil the urns are filled and the process continues until they reach the last urn. Then the oil stopped.
Elisha tells the woman to go sell the oil and pay off the debts. The family can live off of what is left.
Lee said what drove the miracle was the woman’s faith – and her faithfulness in doing what she was told when it didn’t make sense.
The assumption is that that at the end of the day, had there been more jars, there would have been more oil and had their been more oil there would have been more resources. and had there been more resources they would have had more to live on going forward. and Even though God blessed and answered prayers, it could have been so much better and so much more if they could have extended their faith, extended their faithfulness and their vision of to the point of bringing more jars.
I don’t believe God has yet given to us and shared with us and involved us in all that he wants to show us and all he wants to do in and through us. I think that at the end of the day, what he is waiting for is for us to bring more jars.
If we will trust God, and if we will be faithful and we will bring the jars together I believe God’s going to fill them. And I believe that God will do more in and through the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware in the days ahead if we provide the jars than he’s ever done even in our beautiful journey together.
“My prayer will be that your next leader who stands here will constantly call you and all of us to attention to the fact that we are in the Great Commission business. It is my prayer that God will continue to bless and magnify this great staff as they work to serve you. It’s always been not about the convention, it’s always been about the church. The convention exists to serve the church. The church does not exist to serve the convention. What we’ve learned is that we’ll do this thing together. and we’ll trust God will be faithful and we’ll dream the big God-sized dreams that God will do his part and He’ll fill those jars, so that at the end of the day, you and I will not just have more to live on, you and I will see God literally shake this strategic region with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My last official role in this role, in this spot, what I’d like to do is to just pray for you.
Lee thanked God for the opportunity to have Sherry as his partner, to serve with Him for decades, and together to serve those He has given them opportunity to serve. Lee thanked God for allowing them to spend two decades serving alongside these “beautiful people.”
“I pray, Father, that you will continue to raise up leaders that will get the vision and see the value of doing this together. Father, I pray that you will create that synergy that will cause us to be even more than we can be individually as we come together and march forward… I ask that you will bless the search committee…I pray for the person who will stand here as leader.
“I pray you will bless that individual to the extent that your hand will be so much upon him that when he goes to speak or when he works in a setting or whether he goes to consult or whatever it is he does father he will just magnify the beauty of Jesus…
“Father, don’t let us slow down, don’t let us quit, don’t let us give up, don’t let us try to ease up. i pray father that you will continue to put Maryland/Delaware at the very forefront, not only at what Southern Baptists do in this nation and this world, but Father may we be forefront in telling people in a lost region that there’s hope and peace and life to be found in Jesus.”
BCM/D Chief Financial Officer Tom Stolle gave the financial report. Stolle first recognized Dr. Lee.
“Dr. Lee, thank you for being my friend, for laughing with me, crying with me, thinking with me, strategizing with me and the privilege of serving with you and all of us together to share the love of Jesus.” Tom Stolle, said. “My life is better because you’ve been in it. Thank you.”
Cooperative Program receipts for the first quarter totaled $1,067,862. Although running almost $41,000 below last year’s first quarter, Stolle said first quarter receipts are approximating budget.
Receipts from the North American Mission Board are down from budget, totaling $132,573 for the first quarter. Stolle explained this was due to unfilled staff positions, specifically the Love Loud Missionary and the African American Church Planter positions. In addition, non-personnel dollars designated for evangelism have not yet been recognized as income. That is a timing issue.
For the first quarter overall, receipts exceeded disbursements by $49,453. Although overall receipts were slightly below budget, expense savings driven in part by vacant positions have more than offset lower receipts for the first quarter.
Regarding the State Missions Offering, Stolle explained that income received in 2012 is used to fund 2013 ministries. Management anticipates the $187,984 will be fully utilized by the end of 2013.
Looking at the balance sheet, Stolle reported, “The BCM/D is in a good ready cash position, with its bills paid in full and on time.”
Regarding assets, Stolle referred to Legacy of Faith property valued at $774,039. The Southern Maryland property was recently appraised for $457,000. Stolle said the value will be adjusted on a future balance sheet.
The current value of the endowment funds is $2,576,444. The value of the endowment funds have increased as a result increasing equity values.
Escrowed funds designated for specific purposes totaled $564,858. Of that amount, $338,305 has been specifically designated for church planting.
Concerning Skycroft Conference Center operations, receipts totaling $459,325 trailed budget by about $10,000 at the end of the first quarter.
While year-to-date general user fees are ahead of budget, camp income trails. Stolle explained this is driven by timing, especially for a facility like Skycroft with camps and much heavier usage during the summer months.
Stolle noted there are a few budget variances. Facility maintenance was approximately $10,000 over budget due to needed repairs. The food service costs were also above budget due in part to more people attending Skycroft events. Guest relations expenses were under budget because the camping season has not started and certain expenses related to the camps have not yet been incurred.
Stolle said management believes Skycroft operations will break even at year end. However, he did caution that with a conference center facility there are always the possibilities of cancellations due to snow storms and other such weather events that could negatively impact income.
Samuel Cho, pastor of Nepal Baptist Church and Bhutan Baptist Church, asked about recording depreciation expense. Stolle explained that BCM/D presents its financial statements utilizing a modified cash basis of accounting. Depreciation is not recorded since the operating budget makes no provision for non-cash expenses. Management does review the organization’s assets and replacement of fixed assets is budgeted as needed.
Concerning Skycroft, although depreciation expense is not recorded, there is a reserve fund set up to provide money for capital improvements. Cash contributions to this reserve fund will be made over time, at a rate estimating the useful life of the capital improvements to be made in 2013 and future years.
Introduction of New Staff
BCM/D Associate Executive Director Bob Simpson introduced new staff: LoveLoud Missionary Grace Schofield and Missionary for Ministry Evangelism Wendy Mindte. Both women will serve in the areas of evangelism with Ellen Udovich, team strategist for the Acts 1:8 Missions and Evangelism Center.
“For some time we have wanted and dreamed and prayed for a way to ratchet up our whole convention to have the ability to respond to ministry evangelism aspects of the poor, the homeless and the disenfranchised of Maryland/Delaware and help our churches do that as well,” Simpson said.
Executive Director Search Update
Charlie Brown, associate pastor of Dunkirk Baptist Church, reported for the executive director search team. Brown recognized the team of Ken Stalls, pastor of South End Baptist Church, Jim Jeffries, pastor of LaVale Baptist Church, Bernard Fuller, pastor of New Song Baptist Church and Robert Anderson, BCM/D President and pastor of Colonial Baptist Church. Brown asked GMB members to pray daily for the team members. Each man leads their church and their family in addition to serving on the board and on the team.
by way of executive director team,
“I believe wholeheartedly in spiritual warfare” Brown said.
Brown prayed, “Thank you for these men. I’m so humbled to get to serve with them,” Brown said. “Give us wisdom…we thank you for what you have done and what you will do in the future.”
Brown said resumes were received through April 30. Each candidate who moves forward will be evaluated through phone interviews and personal interviews. The administrative team will make a recommendation to the GMB.
David Jackson, team strategist for the Church Multiplication Center, said church planting continues to be alive and well and off to a remarkable start for the year. New works were established among African-American, Burmese, Chinese, Haitian, Hispanic, Korean, Nepalese and Vietnamese. New work among the Romanian and Mongolian people groups are in the formative stags.
Jackson noted that the Salisbury Collegiate Ministry church plant now has over 70 members and recently had 11 baptisms.
In addition, Hispanic church planting is off to the best start in many years.
Rolando Castro, Hispanic church development missionary, reported five new Hispanic projects were in place. Castro said at a BCM/D golf tournament recently, two pastors approached him to discuss possibly starting Hispanic Bible studies in their churches. Both pastored African American Churches.
Ellen Udovich reported for the Acts 1:8 Missions and Evangelism Center.
Udovich explained that the Acts 1:8 Missions and Evangelism Center supports congregations as they develop and implement effective mission strategies that fulfill Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8.
Udovich said the team wants to assist churches, helping them, amplify their outreach ministries and missions.
The team can help churches become aware of ministry opportunities such as helping with ministry at Staten Island to rebuild. Sometimes, she said, rather than asking churches for help with mobilization, churches have the need.
Currently there is a need for volunteers in Crisfield to help rebuild as a result of the destruction from Hurricane Sandy.
“If you have people who like to build…we can provide housing and hot showers,” Udovich said. “We need people who have skills, who can hang sheetrock, but we also need people who can love on families, listen to their stories, find out what their other needs are and pray with them.
“It’s not just rebuilding houses, it’s transforming lives,” Udovich said.
“Missions is not what a committee in a church does, missions is who we are,” she said.
“Doug (Dubois) has done an excellent job of not just taking kids on skiing trips. No matter what he does, it’s about being on mission,” Udovich said.
Doug Dubois, missionary for student evangelism and executive director of Skycroft Conference Center, said many students who come to Skycroft’s camps don’t know what the Gospel is. They think it’s the first four books of the Bible, or a moral code, or rules Moses gave. Dubois began a Gospel 101 class to teach students what the Gospel is and how to share it.
They also teach teens how to use an situation to share he gospel.
In a written report submitted by the Church Wellness Center, Randy Millwood reported that the first meeting of the group that will give shape to the new church wellness center took place on March 26. The team is working on a strategy, developing a mission to reflect the broader mission of BCM/D, identifying church wellness values and defining church wellness.
The center will report their work at the BCM/D annual meeting in November.
Reports and Recommendations from Convention
Ron Smith, reporting for the Constitutions and By-laws Committee said the team is working to develop correct language necessary to help churches know what to include in their by-laws concerning same-sex marriage. These issues concern doctrinal statements, facility usage and membership.
Tom Stolle reported for the Strengthening Church Grants Committee. Stolle said earnings from interest paid back to the Baptist Foundation is used to start and strengthen churches. Some of those monies are available to churches through the strengthening church grants.
Each church receives a grant application, Stolle explained. The committee reviews and prayerfully determines who will be funded. A total of $37,500.00 was distributed to 19 churches.
Stolle said projects were required to be evangelistic in nature. Churches used funds for block parties, summer camp outreach projects, youth witnessing programs and a hip hop outreach.
Other Business or Reports
Bob Simpson reported on the status of a perpetual conservation easement on Skycroft Conference Center property that messengers approved in January.
Simpson said lawyers for BCM/D and from the Department of Natural Resources have been doing due diligence in preparing the necessary documents to finalize the deal. The next step, Simpson said, is a May 29 Maryland Board of Public Works meeting for final approval. Closing could take as long as 180 days, but Simpson said the hope is that closing could happen as early as July or August.
Recently, lawyers discovered that the funding for the state monies is coming from the Federal Government. BCM/D’s lawyer, Jeff Agnor is researching the implications some of the language concerning the Federal involvement. Simpson said at this point there does not seem to be a problem and closing should proceed as expected.
Victor O. Kirk, pastor of Sharon Bible Fellowship Church, asked about a new Maryland State Storm Water fee. Dr. Lee said individuals and churches will be impacted. The BCM/D will be required to pay the fee.
Lee recommended rallying as many pastors as possible and contacting councilmen to share the concerns. The community as a large voting block has sway.
Lee said as an individual taxpayer, he understands and expects to pay the assessment.
“One thing to keep in mind is that we are stewards of the environment. We have some sense of obligation as Christians to do something to help,” Lee said.
Working to find ways to be better environmental stewards may help. How we say things as well as offering assistance can make a difference, he said.
Reports from Agencies and Convention Committees
Tom Stolle, reported for the Baptist Foundation. Stolle said 17 churches have outstanding loans through the church loan fund. For the six months ended March 31, the Foundation earned a net income of $67,203. Earned income for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 will be used to start and strengthen churches within the BCM/D. Current estimates indicate that income will be between $130,000 – $140,000.
The church loan fund has exhausted its available cash to loan to churches. As churches pay back those loans, funds will be available. The Foundation anticipates being able to accept applications near the end of 2013.
Arthur Nanny loans are small loans up to $20,000 for emergency situations. Six churches currently have outstanding Arthur Nanny loans.
The market value of the investment portfolio was $7,047,502, reflecting a year-to-date return of 4.2 percent. The one ear portfolio performance reflected a return of 8.5 percent.
The Foundation continues to focus on planned giving as a strategy with an emphasis on education.
For more information about the Foundation, visit www.bcmd.org/baptist-foundation.
Sandy Wehunt, president of the board of Baptist Family & Children’s Services (BFCS) gave their report. She said BFCS’ three primary programs are: The Good Samaritan Network, Safe Families for Children and CHOSEN.
The Good Samaritan Network is an outreach opportunity for churches and individuals to provide assistance to those in need.
Wehunt said some of the most successful outreach efforts are through the Christmas and the Back to School stores. Forty-seven churches and many individuals provide assistance during last Christmas season. Back to School stores are being organized now.
Also, BFCS offers Vacation Bible School materials to use during the VBS mission moments. The stories coordinate with LifeWay curriculum.
Safe Families for Children has a new coordinator. Tammy Folkerts is an advocate for orphan ministries. She has adopted a child into her own family and she supports her local church’s ministries to orphans around the world.
CHOSEN, BFCS’ treatment foster care program has 36 children. Five children moved into more permanent homes over the past six months. Foster families are needed.
First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro is providing space for BFCS for the recruitment of foster families.
BCM/D President Robert Anderson told David Lee, “It has been a privilege. Thank you for your service to our great convention. We know whatever God has for you, it’s going to be great. Thanks for giving your life us for us.
Anderson referred to Philippians 2 and to Paul’s mention of Epaphroditus.
“But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.”
Epaphroditus’ name means “lovely,” Anderson said. He was lovely because twice he was sick and he almost died. He was so committed to ministry, he gave his life to it. That was significant. Here’s a servant of God near death but Paul didn’t heal him. So often you don’t get that immediate healing. The ultimate healing is when you see Jesus. This is the time to work, to labor, to struggle and for hurt and pain. You don’t have to pray for it, it’s on its way!”
Anderson said pastors need others to support their arms.
“The work of ministry can be very risky.”