Md.-Del. Baptists adopt new name

Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network language church coordinator Michael Mattar displays his church's engraved brick for the "pathway" display.
BCMD photo
SEVERN, Md. (BP) -- The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware will now be known as the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network, reflecting the cooperation of churches in states beyond Maryland and Delaware.

Messengers affirmed the new "doing business as" name during the Nov. 9-11 BCMD annual meeting at The Church at Severn Run in Severn, Md.

Some 420 messengers and 100 guests were registered, the highest total in at least five years.

In preparation for the annual meeting, now known as the annual celebration, network staff attempted to visit each of the 500-plus churches in the network to hand deliver a brick engraved with the church's name and invite each pastor to the celebration.

When messengers arrived, they placed their bricks on a "pathway" display, symbolizing the network's emphasis on building ministries to advance God's Kingdom in future generations. The bricks will be used build a pathway at the network's Skycroft Training Center in western Maryland.

"We owe a great debt to those who passed the Gospel down to us," executive missional strategist Will McRaney said. "Now we must pass it down for others."

Noting that "we have a new generation who knows not Annie [Armstrong] or Lottie [Moon]," McRaney cited an opportunity to pass the Christian faith from such missions pioneers as Armstrong and Moon to rising generations.

"We don't want to hand this off with no one standing there," McRaney said. "We are spending a lot of energy trying to re-communicate who we are: a group of followers working together toward the common cause to advance the Kingdom of God."

Accompanying the network's new name, leaders introduced a new logo with three stripes representing a cord of three strands, a reference to Ecclesiastes 4:12, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Each stripe represents one of the organization's key strategies: equip, encourage and engage.

"We really are better together," McRaney said. "The Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network wants to support local pastors. We don't want any pastor to walk alone."

McRaney also introduced an opportunity to support network ministries through "Gofwd Mid-Atlantic," a newly named extension of the annual State Missions Offering for churches who want to invest in local ministries year-round.

"Gofwd Mid-Atlantic," as well as the annual celebration theme, "Gofwd, Loving Your Neighbors, Sharing Christ," was taken from Annie Armstrong's rally cry, "Go forward," based on Exodus 14:15, "The Lord said to Moses, 'Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.'"

Throughout the celebration, churches were encouraged to acknowledge the past and present and to join arms in moving into the future. Business was brief and prayer time was expanded. Messengers affirmed some of the network's oldest churches, acknowledged pastors who have served 20 years or more and recognized church planters and network staff.

Messengers approved a budget of $5,725,996, a decrease of 2.47 percent from the current year. However, the portion of the budget devoted to the Skycroft Training Center increased by 7.6 percent.

Included in the 2015 budget: $4,025,000 in anticipated CP giving from Mid-Atlantic Network churches; $2,163,004 in income from the Skycroft Training Center; $916,614 from the North American Mission Board; and $60,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources.

The convention will forward 41.5 percent of CP receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention's national and international missions and ministries, a 2 percent decrease from 2014. The network plans to reinvest the retained CP funds into church strengthening and church planting ministries. The budget does not include any shared expenses with the SBC.

Messengers elected William Warren, pastor of Allen Memorial Baptist Church in Salisbury, Md., as president.

Re-elected to positions in which they had already been serving were: first vice president, Steve Hokuf, pastor of First Baptist Church in North East, Md.; second vice president, Randall Blackman, pastor of Faith Baptist Fellowship in Cambridge, Md.; and recording secretary, David Gaines Sr., pastor of Manna Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore. The assistant recording secretary position remains open.

Outgoing president Robert Anderson, in his address, used professional wrestling as an analogy of the Christian life.

"It's interesting, this thing called wrestling," Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., said. "When they go into a match, the winner is predetermined. When they go in to slam and beat up their opponent, they go in knowing the battle is already won. The victor is predetermined."

In the spiritual battles Christians face, the end is also predetermined, Anderson said. "We can celebrate in the midst of the fight. We can have victory in Jesus."

Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and immediate past president of the SBC, noted how the Christian life is a spiritual battle.

"From the hour you become a born-again Christian, your life, ladies and gentlemen, is under constant attack," Luter said. But "greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world.”

"It's an intense battle ... it's difficult," Luter said. However, "I've come all the way here from New Orleans to let you know, even though it's intense, it's a battle you can win."

McRaney, in addressing "Why go forward?" told network Baptists to build their churches in order to win lost men and women to Christ.

"God wants to do something new," McRaney said. "There are a number of plateaued and declining churches. We want to see churches rebuilt so people can come to faith and be disciple.... Everything is at stake for people with whom we share the Gospel."

Reid Sterrett, network catalyst and Eastern Baptist Association director of missions, served at the master of ceremonies for the celebration. "God has done some phenomenal things in our network over the last year," he noted, challenging messengers to "go forward" with the Gospel and with the network.

"My challenge is: Will you go to war and will you go to war with us? Because there is a battle raging for hearts of men and women across the nation and you and I have an opportunity to make a commitment to say we're going to make a difference," Sterrett said.

Many pastors signed cards covenanting to help strengthen and start churches, invest in missions, love neighbors and share Christ.

Harold Bullock, pastor of Hope Church in Fort Worth, Texas, said he thanks God for the glory of the past, but that is nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed when Jesus returns.

"I live now, but not for now," Bullock said. "... I have eternal life, not just everlasting -- I have a taste in my soul. I've got a long way to go, but I know it's better than what I know."

Christian comedian Dennis Swanberg impersonated Billy Graham, Don Knotts, John Wayne, Bill Clinton and Mohammad Ali. He joked about eating cupcakes, calling them "Christian carbs."

On a serious note, Swanberg spoke about planning ahead and providing for future generations.

"Not everyone can be a legend, but [everyone] can leave a legacy," Swanberg said.

While network staff prayed for those around them, McRaney closed the celebration with a commissioning, praying for pastors, leaders and staff to "go forward" in God's calling.

The date and location of the 2015 annual meeting has not yet been established.


Sharon Mager is a communications specialist for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network.

SEVERN, Md. (BP) -- The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware will now be known as the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network, reflecting the cooperation of churches in states beyond Maryland and Delaware.

Messengers affirmed the new "doing business as" name during the Nov. 9-11 BCMD annual meeting at The Church at Severn Run in Severn, Md.

Some 420 messengers and 100 guests were registered, the highest total in at least five years.

In preparation for the annual meeting, now known as the annual celebration, network staff attempted to visit each of the 500-plus churches in the network to hand deliver a brick engraved with the church's name and invite each pastor to the celebration.

When messengers arrived, they placed their bricks on a "pathway" display, symbolizing the network's emphasis on building ministries to advance God's Kingdom in future generations. The bricks will be used build a pathway at the network's Skycroft Training Center in western Maryland.

"We owe a great debt to those who passed the Gospel down to us," executive missional strategist Will McRaney said. "Now we must pass it down for others."

Noting that "we have a new generation who knows not Annie [Armstrong] or Lottie [Moon]," McRaney cited an opportunity to pass the Christian faith from such missions pioneers as Armstrong and Moon to rising generations.

"We don't want to hand this off with no one standing there," McRaney said. "We are spending a lot of energy trying to re-communicate who we are: a group of followers working together toward the common cause to advance the Kingdom of God."

Accompanying the network's new name, leaders introduced a new logo with three stripes representing a cord of three strands, a reference to Ecclesiastes 4:12, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Each stripe represents one of the organization's key strategies: equip, encourage and engage.

"We really are better together," McRaney said. "The Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network wants to support local pastors. We don't want any pastor to walk alone."

McRaney also introduced an opportunity to support network ministries through "Gofwd Mid-Atlantic," a newly named extension of the annual State Missions Offering for churches who want to invest in local ministries year-round.

"Gofwd Mid-Atlantic," as well as the annual celebration theme, "Gofwd, Loving Your Neighbors, Sharing Christ," was taken from Annie Armstrong's rally cry, "Go forward," based on Exodus 14:15, "The Lord said to Moses, 'Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.'"

Throughout the celebration, churches were encouraged to acknowledge the past and present and to join arms in moving into the future. Business was brief and prayer time was expanded. Messengers affirmed some of the network's oldest churches, acknowledged pastors who have served 20 years or more and recognized church planters and network staff.

Messengers approved a budget of $5,725,996, a decrease of 2.47 percent from the current year. However, the portion of the budget devoted to the Skycroft Training Center increased by 7.6 percent.

Included in the 2015 budget: $4,025,000 in anticipated CP giving from Mid-Atlantic Network churches; $2,163,004 in income from the Skycroft Training Center; $916,614 from the North American Mission Board; and $60,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources.

The convention will forward 41.5 percent of CP receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention's national and international missions and ministries, a 2 percent decrease from 2014. The network plans to reinvest the retained CP funds into church strengthening and church planting ministries. The budget does not include any shared expenses with the SBC.

Messengers elected William Warren, pastor of Allen Memorial Baptist Church in Salisbury, Md., as president.

Re-elected to positions in which they had already been serving were: first vice president, Steve Hokuf, pastor of First Baptist Church in North East, Md.; second vice president, Randall Blackman, pastor of Faith Baptist Fellowship in Cambridge, Md.; and recording secretary, David Gaines Sr., pastor of Manna Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore. The assistant recording secretary position remains open.

Outgoing president Robert Anderson, in his address, used professional wrestling as an analogy of the Christian life.

"It's interesting, this thing called wrestling," Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., said. "When they go into a match, the winner is predetermined. When they go in to slam and beat up their opponent, they go in knowing the battle is already won. The victor is predetermined."

In the spiritual battles Christians face, the end is also predetermined, Anderson said. "We can celebrate in the midst of the fight. We can have victory in Jesus."

Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and immediate past president of the SBC, noted how the Christian life is a spiritual battle.

"From the hour you become a born-again Christian, your life, ladies and gentlemen, is under constant attack," Luter said. But "greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world.”

"It's an intense battle ... it's difficult," Luter said. However, "I've come all the way here from New Orleans to let you know, even though it's intense, it's a battle you can win."

McRaney, in addressing "Why go forward?" told network Baptists to build their churches in order to win lost men and women to Christ.

"God wants to do something new," McRaney said. "There are a number of plateaued and declining churches. We want to see churches rebuilt so people can come to faith and be disciple.... Everything is at stake for people with whom we share the Gospel."

Reid Sterrett, network catalyst and Eastern Baptist Association director of missions, served at the master of ceremonies for the celebration. "God has done some phenomenal things in our network over the last year," he noted, challenging messengers to "go forward" with the Gospel and with the network.

"My challenge is: Will you go to war and will you go to war with us? Because there is a battle raging for hearts of men and women across the nation and you and I have an opportunity to make a commitment to say we're going to make a difference," Sterrett said.

Many pastors signed cards covenanting to help strengthen and start churches, invest in missions, love neighbors and share Christ.

Harold Bullock, pastor of Hope Church in Fort Worth, Texas, said he thanks God for the glory of the past, but that is nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed when Jesus returns.

"I live now, but not for now," Bullock said. "... I have eternal life, not just everlasting -- I have a taste in my soul. I've got a long way to go, but I know it's better than what I know."

Christian comedian Dennis Swanberg impersonated Billy Graham, Don Knotts, John Wayne, Bill Clinton and Mohammad Ali. He joked about eating cupcakes, calling them "Christian carbs."

On a serious note, Swanberg spoke about planning ahead and providing for future generations.

"Not everyone can be a legend, but [everyone] can leave a legacy," Swanberg said.

While network staff prayed for those around them, McRaney closed the celebration with a commissioning, praying for pastors, leaders and staff to "go forward" in God's calling.

The date and location of the 2015 annual meeting has not yet been established.

Sharon Mager is a communications specialist for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network.
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