Ill. Baptists vote to reduce board from 72 to 33 members

TINLEY PARK, Ill. (BP)--Messengers to the Illinois Baptist State Association's annual meeting at the Holiday Inn Select and Convention Center in Tinley Park Nov. 10-11 approved a reduction in the size of the association's board from 72 to 33 members.

The move requires the change of a bylaw in the IBSA constitution and dictates 24 members will be elected from six regions in the state, with the board of directors apportioning the regions every 10 years. Nine of the members will be elected from the state at large.

Some messengers expressed concern that too much power would be given to a small number of people and the board would be less democratic. Larry Richmond, director of missions for the Gateway Baptist Association and president of the board when the plan was first introduced, said research has shown the current model of governance made the board less effective.

Tom Rains, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Quincy and chair of the constitution and bylaws committee, said it would yield savings of more than $12,000 a year for the association. The change was passed by a large majority of the messengers.

The meeting's 390 messengers and 113 visitors were led in worship by believers from Korean, African American and Hispanic churches, and Christian recording artist Larnelle Harris gave a small concert.

Wendell Lang, IBSA's executive director, spoke about the two main emphases of IBSA for the coming year: doubling the number of baptisms and increasing missions potential through more Cooperative Program giving.

Lang's sermon was called, "How to Be Baptized without Getting in 'Hot Water' With God." According to the example set by Jesus, four things were needed, he said, including the proper candidate, the proper reason, the proper method and the proper authority. To illustrate Lang's point, four new Christians were baptized in a portable baptistery near the platform. Kwon Han, pastor of Lord's Church in Glen Ellyn, baptized them under the authority of his church.

Donald Sharp, board president and pastor of Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church in Chicago, presented a message based on Luke 9:46-50.

"Whoever is not against you, is for you. ... There is no them, there is no us," he said, stressing the need for continued unity among Illinois Baptists.

Sharp gave an example of racial unity as he told about an Anglo church that sponsored Broadview Baptist Church, an African American congregation that is now one of the largest Baptist churches in the Chicago metro area.

Referring to Luke 4:18-19, where Jesus reads from the book of Isaiah about the need to act for God's glory, Sharp told Illinois Baptists this is God's year for them to act.

"We need to claim our communities, we need to claim our neighborhoods, we need to move out of our comfort zones," he said. "We want to hear Him say, 'Well done, good and faithful servants.'"

Charles Lyons, pastor of Armitage Baptist Church in Chicago, gave the annual sermon.

"Where are the men who dare to be men? Where are the women who will be godly? Where are the preachers who will stand and trumpet truth? Where are the politicians who won't stick a finger in the air to test the breeze to see what they should believe? Where are the dads who will dare to lead their families? Where are the moms who will nurture their children?" Lyons asked.

Drawing from the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, Lyons challenged his listeners to bear the standard of their faith.

"For too long we have allowed the enemy to determine how the war will be fought. David's words to Goliath were not just teenage talk. He backed them up, spoke with certitude about right and wrong," he said. "And certitude about right and wrong is part of what courage is. David knew what Goliath had to say was unacceptable. David was sure that his God is the God, and that Israel should not simply roll over and accept what Goliath was doing."

Lyons challenged his audience to "get last year's VBS stuff out of the baptistery and pray until we get some water and some people in there. We need to get real. The Philistine champion was phony, but he was about to meet the real champion. The champion of courage lives in me; the Lion of Judah lives in you. We need to rise up and face our Goliaths. Our times demand courage. No more wimps. No girly men need apply."

Sharp was re-elected president, and Fred Winters, pastor of Maryville Baptist Church in Maryville, was re-elected vice president. Jeanette Cloyd, a member of Como First Baptist Church, was elected recording secretary.

Messengers approved resolutions concerning the Federal Marriage Amendment, morality and decency in broadcasting, and support of the military.

A budget of just under $5.57 million was approved, representing a decrease of $74,000 from the current year. The ISBA allots 57.75 percent to the state's general fund and 42.25 percent to Southern Baptist international and national causes.

Lang gave an update on the IBSA's Partnership Program, which is designed to generate teamwork between Illinois Baptists and believers from other states and countries. Among the announcements was the forming of partnerships with the Baptist Convention of New York, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and East Asia.

Seven new churches were accepted into the association: Christian Center of Hope in Danville; Genesis Mission Baptist Church in Madison; God's Wisdom Ministry in Chicago; Heartland Baptist Church in Hutsonville; New Life Christian Fellowship in Hamel; and Standing Stones Baptist Church in Chicago.

Next year's annual meeting will be Nov. 9-10 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield.


With additional reporting by Ron Wenzel.

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