Ky. Baptists increase CP, denounce trafficking

FLORENCE, Ky. (BP) -- A report of increased giving through the Cooperative Program by Kentucky Baptist churches and a denunciation of human trafficking were among the highlights of the Kentucky Baptist Convention annual meeting Nov. 15 in Cincinnati-area Florence, Ky.

Meeting at Florence Baptist Church, messengers also elected the pastor of the state's oldest Baptist church as convention president and advocated foster care and adoption.

The 2017-18 budget of $22 million will divide Cooperative Program receipts equally between KBC missions and ministries and Southern Baptist Convention causes, with 7 percent shared expenses.

A $500,000 increase to the convention's CP budget was approved after giving from churches exceeded projections for 2015-16 by more than $1 million. Kentucky Baptists gave more than $22.3 million through CP and an additional $8.9 million through special offerings for state, national and international missions work.

"Increasing the CP budget goal for a second straight year is a wonderful surprise," said KBC executive director Paul Chitwood. "Knowing the challenges facing so many of our churches and yet to see them giving more, not less, to get the Gospel to Kentucky, North America and the nations is inspiring and humbling. We thank God for every dollar that will be given and every person who will give it."

New officers

Bill Langley, pastor of Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., was elected KBC president by acclamation. He was nominated by Dan Summerlin, pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., and a past KBC president.

Langley served as president of this year's Kentucky Baptist Pastors' Conference, held at Florence Baptist immediately prior to the annual meeting.

Langley's "roots grow deep in Kentucky Baptist life," Summerlin told the Western Recorder in stating his intent to nominate Langley. He noted that Langley's profession of faith came as an 8-year-old at the church he now pastors.

In his nomination speech, Summerlin highlighted three reasons Kentucky Baptists should elect Langley: his character, his competence as a leader and his commitment to the Cooperative Program.

"Throughout the state, people respect him for modeling the Christian life," Summerlin said. "He preaches on evangelism, and he backs it up with his lifestyle."

Langley said his primary goal as president is to encourage Kentucky congregations to concentrate on evangelism and discipleship in a time of great challenges and great opportunities.

"This is not a time to 'hold the fort,'" Langley said. "This is a time to advance and enlarge the Kingdom."

During Langley's seven years at Severns Valley, more than 500 new believers have been baptized and the church has given more than $2.1 million through CP. The congregation consistently is a state leader in CP giving, contributing more than $12 million since 1928.

"I am a strong advocate of the Cooperative Program for a very pragmatic reason: We can do much more together than we can do by ourselves," Langley said.

Elected to serve with Langley were first vice president Kenny Rager, a church planter and pastor of Community Life Church in Owensboro, Ky.; and second vice president Josh Landrum, pastor of Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, Ky. Both ran unopposed.

Resolutions

Human trafficking was the focus of one resolution adopted by messengers. Trafficking is a $32 billion illegal industry that ensnares an estimated 27 million people worldwide, with the average girl trafficked for prostitution being 12-14 years old.

Kentucky Baptists called on law enforcement and prosecutors to do all in their power to end human trafficking, and for Kentucky Baptists to become educated on how to prevent it and how to minister to those victimized by it.

"This is a horrendous crime that must be addressed," Chitwood said prior to the resolution's adoption. "Human beings should not be treated as property and used in forced prostitution or involuntary labor."

Another resolution promoted foster care and adoption.

Noting that the state of Kentucky has custody of nearly 8,000 children who have been removed from homes because of abuse or neglect, the resolution stated, "We understand we have a Christian responsibility to provide physical care to those in need and to adopt orphans as we have opportunity."

The resolution urged Kentucky Baptists to support Sunrise Children's Services, a ministry of the KBC that has taken care of orphans since 1869.

CP 'gatekeepers'

In his annual report, Chitwood emphasized that pastors are "gatekeepers" for CP, playing a vital role in teaching their congregations how Southern Baptists work together to reach the state, nation and world for Christ.

Pastors "defend CP in budget committee meetings and during business meetings," Chitwood said. "And they preach responsibility to the Great Commission for every church and every church member. Thank God for the men of God who still believe in evangelism and missions, still love the Lord and the lost and still want to see their neighbors and the nation reached for Christ."

Chitwood highlighted the "sacrifice, the faithfulness and the conviction that causes churches to continue to give to reach Kentucky, North America and the nations with the Gospel."

In other actions:

-- Messengers clarified that only members of cooperating Kentucky Baptist churches are eligible to be nominated for and to serve on convention committees.

Mark Maynard, chairman of the Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, explained, "While such an understanding has likely been assumed over the years," a new guideline adopted by messengers "will remove any possible ambiguity."

The guideline specifies: "Should at any time a committee member's church membership cease to be in a cooperating affiliated church, the committee member will be considered as having resigned from the committee."

-- Princeton, Ky., newspaper publisher Chip Hutcheson received the Integrity Award for Coverage of Faith Issues, given by the KBC Communications Team.

Hutcheson, a 2012 Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame inductee, has served Princeton and its surrounding communities with news reporting since 1976. Editor of the Times Leader, Hutcheson is a former president of both the National Newspaper Association and the Kentucky Press Association.

Hutcheson was elected KBC president in 2013 and served as chairman of the SBC's Committee on Nominations in 2014. A member of Southside Baptist Church in Princeton, he also has served on the boards of the Western Recorder and the Kentucky Ethics League.

-- Prestonsburg, Ky., pastor Tommy Reed was chosen to preach the 2017 convention sermon when Kentucky Baptists gather Nov. 14 at Louisville's Highview Baptist Church.

Reed has served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Fitzpatrick since 2003 and is a member of the KBC Mission Board and its Missions Mobilization Committee.

Todd Deaton is editor of the Western Recorder (www.westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
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