Mo. Baptists affirm CP, biblical marriage
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) -- Reminded that God's Word and Spirit can transform a lost world and empower ministry, messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention reaffirmed a "50-50 by 2020" cooperative giving initiative, defended the biblical definition of marriage and prayed for persecuted believers around the world.
A total of 942 messengers and 265 guests from 530 churches gathered Oct. 28-30 at Kansas City's Sheraton Hotel at Crown Center, where Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter proclaimed that the Gospel can transform lives and cultures.
"The Word of God is personal, powerful, practical and persistent," Luter said. "Brothers and sisters, what our society needs, what our culture needs, what America needs, what Louisiana needs, what Missouri needs is the transforming power of the Word of God."
MBC President Wesley Hammond, pastor of First Baptist Church in Paris, and convention preacher Eddie Bumpers, pastor of Crossway Baptist Church in Springfield, emphasized in their messages the 179th annual meeting's theme, "The Holy Way," based on Isaiah 35:8. They reminded messengers and guests that they must lean wholly on God's Spirit and power for ministry.
Likewise, MBC Executive Director John Yeats called Missouri Baptists to trust God as the convention attempts to balance the percentage of Cooperative Program (CP) giving allocated to the state and national missions and ministries. This "50-50 by 2020" initiative, Yeats said, will broaden Missouri Baptists' worldwide impact for the Gospel but they must trust God to provide the resources.
"We ask you to pray and seek the Lord," Yeats said. "Ask Him, 'Lord give us faith to trust You with the resources You desire to give through our churches to the ends of the earth.'"
A resolution encouraging Missouri Baptist churches "to continue supporting the Cooperative Program and give serious consideration to increasing their commitment to the Cooperative Program by 2020" was approved by an overwhelming majority of messengers.
A $14.5 million CP budget was approved, a decrease from last year's $14.6 million budget. Nevertheless, messengers moved toward the "50-50" cooperative giving plan, approving 60 percent of the CP budget for state causes and 40 percent for SBC causes. Additionally, 5 percent of the 2014 budget was placed in a separate "shared expenses" category, which would not count toward the 50-50 goal. The funds will be allocated for annuity protections and The Pathway state newspaper. In contrast, messengers at the MBC's 2012 annual meeting allocated 62.5 percent for MBC causes and 37.5 percent for SBC causes.
An Executive Board recommendation also was approved to set the Rheubin L. South Mission Offering goal at $700,000 and that the MBC take a special offering to "benefit equally the MBC ministries of Super Summer and mb125."
Two resolutions submitted by the MBC's Christian Life Committee were approved defending the biblical perspective on marriage and homosexuality.
One resolution opposed the Boy Scouts of America's decision to open membership to homosexuals. According to the resolution, the change in BSA membership policy contrasts with the historic commitment of Scouting to safeguarding values that are "consistent with belief in God and biblical precepts that serve as the basis for Christian faith." The new BSA policy, adopted in May, also conflicts with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which states that "Christians should oppose all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography."
The resolution encouraged Missouri Baptist churches to reconsider their relationship with the Boy Scouts and encouraged churches that break with the BSA to continue ministering to boys through such programs as Royal Ambassadors.
Another resolution responded to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), voicing "our continued opposition to and grave disappointment in the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act."
While condemning homosexual behavior and opposing the redefinition of marriage, both resolutions also encouraged Missouri Baptists to pray for and show the love of Christ to homosexuals.
Special guest Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned American-Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini, was welcomed by a standing ovation during Pathway editor Don Hinkle's report to the convention.
"I just have to give all glory to God because what the enemy has meant for evil God has used for good," said Abedini, whose husband has been imprisoned in Iran for more than a year because of his faith in Christ. Because of the "Save Saeed" campaign, Naghmeh Abedini has shared the Gospel throughout the world, even while addressing the United Nations in Geneva. Amid applause from messengers and guests, Abedini said that she told world leaders that the world's problems can be solved by Jesus Christ. After Abedini's testimony, Executive Director Yeats led in prayer for Abedini, her husband and their children.
The convention's committee reported to messengers that 12 Missouri churches were not in cooperation with the MBC, down from the previous total of 90, out of which 88 had reaffirmed their ties to the convention. Additionally, 14 churches have newly joined in cooperation with the MBC.
Messengers re-elected the same slate of MBC officers who served last year:: president, Wesley Hammond, pastor of First Baptist Church, Paris; first vice president, Neal Franks, pastor, First Baptist Church, Branson; second vice president, Joshua Hedger, director of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Center Church Planting; and recording secretary, David Krueger, pastor of First Baptist Church, Linn.
Missouri Baptists also approved a recommendation that Richie Rhea, pastor of First Baptist Church in Troy, preach the convention sermon during the next annual meeting at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Mo., Oct. 27-29, 2014.
Benjamin Hawkins is managing editor of The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.