Mich. Baptists adopt new constitution, bylaws

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (BP) -- Michigan Baptists adopted a new constitution and bylaws designed to allow the convention to function in harmony and unity, Executive Director Tim Patterson told Baptist Press.

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity," Patterson said, paraphrasing Psalm 133:1. "It is a new day in Michigan."

Patterson, elected to lead the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM) in May, said the convention had tried unsuccessfully to pass a new constitution that would work well with its new bylaws.

"When I was called as the executive director for Michigan, the convention was facing some difficulties that needed attention before it could function effectively and with unity," Patterson said. "A new set of bylaws had been approved but the corresponding constitution had been rejected more than once. It was obvious that to lead and carry out the day-to-day business of the convention in an orderly and acceptable manner would be greatly impeded, if not impossible."

The BSCM adopted the new rules at its annual meeting Nov. 6–7 at Faith Baptist Church in Battle Creek after Patterson, BSCM president Chuck Turner and others worked with the convention's 248 churches to resolve differences. Both the constitution and bylaws were adopted unanimously.

"We declare and establish this Constitution and Bylaws to preserve and secure the principles of our faith and to govern this body in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40)," the constitution preamble reads, "while striving to resource the unique God-given vision of every cooperating congregation in fulfilling the Great Commission both locally and globally."

Cooperating churches will be "partners in advancing God's kingdom," the document reads, and will be committed to "doing whatever it takes to see lives transformed for Christ through starting, strengthening and mobilizing churches."

The completely rewritten constitution allows for the dismissal of churches that "fail to fulfill the requirements of a cooperating church." According to the bylaws, churches are in cooperation when they support BSCM's vision, mission and doctrinal statement; have undergone a credentialing process through a local association or in the absence of an association, the BSCM executive committee; have submitted an Annual Church Profile within the preceding 18 months, and have contributed financially to the Cooperative Program within the preceding 18 months.

The amended bylaws establish an executive board of at least 30 members elected at BSCM's annual meeting to give "oversight to the cooperative work and affairs" of the BSCM between annual sessions.

The bylaws reduce the maximum number of church messengers seated at BSCM annual meetings from 15 to 10, including the pastor, beginning with three messengers for the first 50 resident members of each church.

In other business, messengers increased the state's Cooperative Program giving to Southern Baptist Convention national and international causes by 1 percent of anticipated CP receipts. The state will forward to the SBC 31.5 percent, or $445,817, of an anticipated $1,415,291 in CP receipts from cooperating churches.

Messengers approved the increase in the CP allotment for the SBC in spite of adopting a 2016 budget of $2,201,778 that is a 1 percent decrease from the current year's budget. The budget allots $206,932 to cover expenses shared by the BSCM and the SBC.

Returning officers are president Charles Turner, a member of Kaleo Church in Lansing; first vice president Nathaniel Bishop, a member of Middlebelt Baptist Church, Romulus; and second vice president Jerome Taylor, pastor of Eastgate Baptist Church in Burton. Newly elected officers are recording secretary Roy Henry, pastor of annual meeting host Faith Baptist Church, and assistant recording secretary Jeff Buccholz, a staff member of Merriman Road Baptist Church in Garden City.

The 190 messengers and guests in attendance, representing 71 of BSCM churches, observed the theme "For the Prize," drawn from Philippians 3:14.

The 2016 meeting will be held Nov. 4-5 at Eastgate Baptist Church.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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