WRAP-UP: Mich. Baptists mark anniversary

MIDLAND, Mich., (BP)--Michigan Baptists celebrated their 50th anniversary and passed constitutional amendments regarding churches endorsing homosexuality and the number of messengers churches may send to annual meetings.

With the theme "Fifty Years of Faith: Foundations For Our Future," each of the three-day meeting's sessions was highlighted with pictures and verbal reflections of the significance of all five decades recounted by James Jones, pastor of First Baptist Church in Trenton, Mich., who also celebrated 50 years in ministry in Michigan, having served as a pastor and the state's evangelism director.

Hosted by Sunrise Baptist Church in Midland, Oct. 30 -- Nov. 1, the meeting drew 220 messengers and guests, representing 70 churches in the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.

Messengers passed two constitutional amendments. One stated: "Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior." The other revised the qualifying parameters for the number of messengers a church may send to an annual meeting. Whereas the constitution formerly stated "Messengers will be seated only from churches which give evidence of denominational loyalty by regular financial contributions" to the convention, the word "loyalty" was changed to "cooperation." The latter amendment includes wording that allows "one additional messenger for every $1,000 contributed through the Cooperative Program of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan." The constitution retained wording permitting one messenger for every 50 members and kept the maximum number of messengers at 10.

A resolution calling for Michigan Baptists to recommit to evangelism and to make it a priority passed easily.

Messengers adopted a 2008 budget of $3,491,938, a decrease of $61,135 from the 2007 budget. Anticipated Cooperative Giving by Michigan churches of $1.67 million will continue to be allocated 69.5 percent for in-state ministry and 30.5 percent for SBC national and international missions and ministries.

All officers were elected by acclamation. Herb Harbaugh, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Sterling Heights, was elected to a second one-year term as president, while Ken Render, pastor of Lakeside Community Church in St. Clair Shores, was elected first vice president; Mike Lee, pastor of Grace Church in Jackson, second vice president; and Art Werry, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Fraser, recording secretary.

Messengers reviewed their ongoing missions partnership with Baptists in Niger, West Africa, and with the Alabama Baptist Convention.

Mark Weick, pastor of Sunrise Baptist, preached the annual sermon. Other speakers included Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board; Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary; and Reggie Quimby, director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions’ office of global partnerships & volunteers in missions.

By naming the convention's Bambi Lake Baptist Retreat and Conference Center facility's snack shop "JB's Place," messengers honored longtime conference center employee James Brown who died last October.

The 2008 annual meeting will be Oct. 28-30 at Merriman Road Baptist Church in Garden City.


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