Calif. Baptists recommend changes to state entities

HIGHLAND, Calif. (BP)--Messengers to the California Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting Nov. 9-10 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland approved several bylaw changes concerning the relationship of CSBC entities based on recommendations from the Agency Relations Committee, appointed at the 2003 annual meeting to study the matter.

Roger Spradlin, chairman of the committee and pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, said the committee's assignment was "to look at our documents governing our convention and our processes and our procedures, and see anything that might need to be changed to be more helpful in our relationship with our agencies."

In all, the committee presented 11 recommendations -- two related to the CSBC constitution, seven to the CSBC bylaws, one to the CSBC Executive Board bylaws and another from the floor.

Most of the recommendations dealt with CSBC committees and boards -- the executive board, California Baptist University board of trustees and California Baptist Foundation board of directors. The recommendations ranged from organization of the boards to terms of service.

With the exception of a bylaw recommendation that would have detailed procedures for the committee on board nominations, all recommendations considered this year carried. Only one other recommendation allowing two members from a church to serve on either the university or foundation board garnered debate.

Two constitutional and one bylaw recommendation from the Agency Relations Committee were introduced and will be considered at the 2005 annual meeting.

With no questions or debate, messengers approved a $10.8 million budget with a Cooperative Program objective of $7,702,201. The total proposed budget is an increase of 1.36 percent over the 2004 budget of $10,663,671.

The $7.7 million CP objective is a 4.68 percent increase, or $344,176, over the 2004 objective.

Of the $7.7 million, the Southern Baptist Convention will receive 27 percent for worldwide missions, the university will receive 16.438 percent for Christian education and the foundation will receive 1.359 percent. The remaining 55.203 percent will be used for executive board ministries in California.

Major expense increases in the proposed spending plan include Jenness Park, salary increases of 2 percent for all CSBC staff and employee benefits.

In introducing the budget, Steve Davidson, chairman of the CSBC Executive Board and pastor of Clovis Hills Community Church in Clovis, said, "Last year, we had a lot of difficulty because we pared back. All of that is reflected in this budget."

He noted the 2004 budget reallocated 3 percent from SBC to CSBC ministries with the intent to raise the line item back to 30 percent. "We had to cut back some to what we send on to world missions and that is a temporary thing," Davidson said.

However, the 2005 budget did not reflect an increase. Davidson said the executive board wanted to be "cautious and not begin raising our world missions percentage just yet."

"Give us another year, please," he urged.

Noting income was about 1.5 percent above the 2004 budget, Davidson said actions from the 2003 annual meeting "gave us no ability to build reserves."

A motion approved at the 2003 annual meeting earmarked the first $220,000 received over the 2004 Cooperative Program objective for the Southern Baptist Convention. That figure is the amount reallocated in the 3 percent from SBC to CSBC ministries. Davidson remarked that if gifts continue to run ahead of last year, CSBC could make up the 3 percent for worldwide missions.

In 2003 messengers voted to reinstate a resolutions committee, but no provision was made to spell out the composition and duties of the committee. Messengers at this year's annual meeting approved a recommendation to accomplish that task and also elected members to serve on the committee.

During deliberations, the committee chose to present only one resolution dealing with the right to life, family values, purity in marriage between a man and a woman, and the raising of children. Buster Reeves, pastor of Canyon Rim Community Church in Anaheim and committee chairman, said the resolution was a compilation of three submitted.

Encouraging California Southern Baptist churches and members to pray for these issues and "for our country to move forward in unity as one nation under God," the resolution also encouraged the CSBC president and executive director to notify the president of the United States concerning the resolution and "our support of him in prayer."

Messengers also approved a recommendation to establish a California Baptist Archive and Historical Records Depository at California Baptist University that would store historical documents of CSBC, the foundation and CBU.

Currently there is no central depository for California Baptist historical materials. Most of the historical information for CSBC is stored in a vacant office at the Ministry Resource Center in Fresno.

A task force of the California Baptist Historical Society recommended in a 15-page report that the executive board, the foundation and the university participate in establishing a depository and that it be housed at the CBU campus.

The boards of all three entities approved the recommendation before presenting it to messengers at this year's annual meeting.

Without debate, messengers also approved recommendations of the committee on committees and committee on board nominations for persons to serve on CSBC committees and boards for the coming year.

Wayne Stockstill, CSBC president, appointed three persons to serve terms expiring in 2007 on the committee on committees: Frank Wilkins, pastor of Hat Creek Southern Baptist Church in Hat Creek representing region 2; Cindy Cook, a layperson from First Baptist Church in Nipomo representing region 5; and John Powell, pastor of Calvary Church of West Hills representing region 7.

During miscellaneous business sessions, Wiley Drake presented motions to "encourage" the CSBC executive director and president to send letters of encouragement to AVIDD (American Veterans in Domestic Defense), touring the United States with the Ten Commandments monument placed by Judge Roy Moore in the Alabama capitol building in 2003; to Norma McCorvey, who was "Roe" in the Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court case that resulted in legalized abortion and who since has reversed her stance on the issue, and to the Texas Justice Foundation as they file suit to overturn the landmark abortion legislation. Both motions carried.

In a continuing decline of attendance at state convention annual meetings, messenger registration totaled 586, with 189 guests. Last year's annual meeting in San Diego drew 610 messengers and some 270 guests. The 2004 messenger total was the lowest recorded since 1956 when 541 registered for the meeting in Eureka.

Tom Stringfellow, pastor of First Baptist Church in Beverly Hills, was elected CSBC president with 51 percent of the vote over Steve Davidson.

Ken Patton, pastor of Palermo Baptist Church in Palermo, was elected first vice president by acclamation.

Jim Gregory, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Escalon and a student at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, was elected second vice president by 78 percent over Wiley Drake.

R. Wayne Stacks, associate pastor of worship and senior adult ministry at First Baptist Church in Fair Oaks, was elected convention music director by acclamation.

The 2005 CSBC annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15-16 in San Jose. Leroy Gainey, pastor of First Baptist Church in Vacaville, and David Gill, pastor of Concord Korean Baptist Church in Martinez, were elected as preacher and alternate preacher, respectively, for the San Jose gathering.

Messengers also affirmed annual meetings for Bakersfield, Nov. 14-15, 2006, and Sacramento, Nov. 13-14, 2007.


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