New England increases CP to 21.75%

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (BP)--The Baptist Convention of New England explored a theme of "Living Like a Missionary" during its 28th annual meeting Nov. 11-13 the Courtyard Marriott in Marlborough, Mass.

Messengers adopted a budget of $2.98 million that will forward 21.75 percent of Cooperative Program missions receipts to national and international causes through the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Baptist Convention of New England is comprised by the six states of New England. The meeting, hosted by the Massachusetts Baptist Association, registered 139 messengers from 64 churches, along with 42 guests.

Celebrating and exploring Acts 1:8, each BCNE ministry area shared presentations and testimonies. Church planters from different settings described God's guidance and faithfulness. Disaster relief was a key highlight from the convention staff's evangelism group, as they told stories of God moving in locations across New England affected by devastating spring floods -- and of 27 people who made professions of faith as a direct result of the ministry. The convention's leadership development group presented testimonies from youth, young adults and adults who talked about missional living.

The convention's Great Commission Resurgence Response Team gave a brief report. Team chairperson Neal Davidson, pastor of Hope Chapel in Sterling, Mass., explained that the group was formed in response to new directions being taken by the North American Mission Board with state conventions and associations after the national Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report was adopted by Southern Baptist Convention messengers in Orlando this past June.

That report recommended phasing out the "cooperative agreements" that have governed state convention and local association relationships with the North American Mission Board. Many state conventions and local associations are now engaged in a process of dialogue with NAMB and reassessing their vision, strategy and financial plans.

A missions banquet the evening of Nov. 12 focused on the convention theme. Randy Sprinkle, BCNE director of transformational leadership, and his wife Nancy gave a presentation on the life of Lottie Moon. Members of the Girls in Action group from Friendship Baptist Church in Litchfield, Conn., shared about Thailand. Debby Akerman, national president of Woman's Missionary Union, delivered a challenge to the attendees. Akerman and her family previously lived and served in New England.

Phil Wilkes, pastor of New Colony Baptist Church in Billerica, Mass., delivered the president's address. Wilkes drew his message from Genesis 13:5-12, asking the question, "Which way do I go?" He noted that Lot set out in the direction that looked best but was not guided or blessed by the Lord, and that our temptations today follow a similar path. Quoting Henry Blackaby, Wilkes said, "Waiting on God is never passive."

Executive Director/Treasurer Jim Wideman used a modern-day parable to bring to life the "Living Like a Missionary" theme in the Thursday morning session. During his report later that evening, Wideman expressed joy in seeing the native leadership God is raising up in New England. Wideman listed the names of next-generation leaders who are native to New England and serving across the convention's six states. Wideman also noted that prayerwalking is taking root in New England, explaining that one-third of BCNE churches participated in Southern Baptists' national GPS: God's Plan for Sharing evangelistic emphasis, of which prayerwalking is a key component.

Wideman said he is "heartened by the momentum" in church planting across the New England convention.

"Every single DOM has experience in church planting. I am encouraged as more and more people engage in missional living," Wideman said. "God is working His purposes out and we get to be a part."

He rejoiced that the convention has seen a nearly 50 percent net growth in number of churches in the past decade and most of that growth is due to church planting.

George Sweet, pastor of The Baptist Fellowship in Randolph, Vt., delivered the annual sermon. In a message titled "The Lord's Vocation for Us," Sweet used Genesis 1 and 1 Corinthians 4:1-6 to talk about responding to God's call.

The 2011 budget of $2.98 million was approved unanimously, representing virtually no change over the previous year's budget. The budget anticipates $739,985 in Cooperative Program giving by the state's churches, 21.75 percent of which will be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention, a .25 percent increase over 2010.

During the election of officers, Wilkes was elected by acclamation for a second term as president. Ron Mills, a layman from Island Pond Baptist Church in Hampstead, N.H., was elected vice president. Sandy Coelho was re-elected clerk, Sandy Wideman was re-elected historian, and Rich Clegg was elected parliamentarian.

Peter Kendrick, leader of NAMB's Church Planting Team, delivered the convention's closing message, "What are You Going to Do with the Rest of Your Life?" from Acts 20:22-24.

The 2011 annual meeting will be Nov. 10-12 in the Worcester/Marlborough, Mass., area.


Contributed by Allyson Clark, BCNE staff.

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