Md./Del. Baptists pray, seek Christ's Spirit
Ironically, just a short distance from where hundreds of Towson University students were walking out of their classes in protest of President-elect Donald Trump, Maryland/Delaware Baptists were bowing in prayer to be one in Jesus.
The Nov. 13-15 sessions, attended by 341 messengers and 79 guests representing 204 of the 500-plus BCM/D cooperating churches, were marked by frequent times of prayer. On Sunday evening, 24 church leaders from diverse backgrounds read Scripture and led in a dedicated time of prayer. Monday morning began with prayer based on the model shared by Daniel Henderson, author of "Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God's Face."
Michael Trammell, senior pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church, was elected as convention president; Rick Hancock, associate pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Huntingtown, Md., first vice president, and Keith Myer, pastor of Harvest Baptist Church in Salisbury, Md., as second vice president. David Gaines, pastor of Manna Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore, will serve as recording secretary with Tracey Gaines, David's wife, as assistant recording secretary
Messengers approved a $7,585,448 budget, encompassing expected Cooperative Program contributions of $3,750,000 from the convention's cooperating churches, as well as receipts from the annual state missions offering and the BCM/D-owned Skycroft Conference Center. An additional 1 percent of CP receipts, or 43.5 percent, will be sent to SBC national and international missions. Trammell, serving as General Mission Board president, said if churches increase their collective giving, the BCM/D would be able to increase the percentage they send to national and international missions.
The North American Mission Board has agreed to increase funding for new church plants by 25 percent over the prior year. Concerning this effort, NAMB will be contributing $800,000 to the BCM/D for planting new churches in the region, an increase of $200,000 in church planter assistance compared to the previous year's budget.
The proposed budget also includes funding for church planting initiatives to include individuals and families affected by disabilities.
Messengers approved a resolution to cease doing business as "Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network" and to return to using the established legal name, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.
President Bill Warren, pastor of Allen Memorial Baptist Church in Salisbury, opened the first session, leading in a time of prayer.
"… Sometimes we can't make heads or tails in our world.... Thank You that You're sovereign, that You're in charge, that in the end, You win," Warren prayed.
Henderson said people ask him all the time, "Which is more important, private prayer or corporate prayer?" "My answer is, yes," he said. "Which leg do you need to walk on more, your left leg or your right leg? But we have amputated our corporate prayer leg in the American church, and we are all lame on our private prayer leg, and the devil loves it so."
Keynote speakers, each focusing on unity through prayer and total surrender, included Warren; Henderson; Kevin Smith, the new BCM/D executive director; Luis Palau of the Luis Palau Association; Paul Kim, Asian-American relations consultant for the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee; and Byron Day, president of the SBC National African American Fellowship.
Warren, in his presidential address on being "crucified with Christ," said when one is crucified with Christ, self dies including self-reliance, self-promotion and self-focus. "No longer are you your first priority," he said.
"When self dies, then you no longer live for anyone or anything else than Christ," Warren said, referencing the apostle Paul's words in Philippians 1:21.
Kevin Smith, in his first address at a BCM/D annual meeting as executive director, shared about his background, his family and his vision for the convention, including church strengthening and a clearly articulated church planting strategy. (See introductory video here: https://vimeo.com/192648226).
Smith encouraged messengers to provide Annual Church Profile (ACP) data and to give to the Cooperative Program for Southern Baptist missions and ministries in the BCM/D and around the world.
Discussing unity among much diversity, Smith said, "The truth of God is the unifying principle. The truth of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done is the unifying principle.
"… [T]he Lord Jesus Christ calls His people together, not because they are the same in their affinity affiliations, but because they are the same in being changed and born again in Christ Jesus."
Luis Palau, who also addressed a Hispanic fellowship dinner, thanked BCM/D churches for sending and supporting missionaries. "I love missionaries and so thank you for sending them, for supporting them, for backing them and keep it up till Jesus comes back. There are still a lot of people who haven't heard the Gospel...."
Paul Kim noted to the convention, "The priority of the church is not a program. The priority of the church is worshiping the Lord. He is worthy to be praised, exalted, and magnified. He's the coming King. He is the Lord."
In the closing message, Byron Day exhorted listeners, "Saints, our annual meeting theme has been 'United in Prayer.' We've got to come together and pray and seek God's face."
Day, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Laurel, Md., said there has never been a movement of God that did not at first begin with prayer.
"You could check the spiritual awakening, you can inspect any other time and you will see that somebody started praying."
Music and worship throughout the meeting was diverse, with a mixture of styles including gospel, contemporary, traditional and southern.
A choir of 100-plus voices from Kettering Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro, Md., opened the first evening's worship, followed throughout the meeting sessions by Dee Jones of Epic Community Church in Aberdeen, Md., and worship bands from Church of the Harbor in Baltimore and Dunkirk Baptist Church's worship bands. The final session, with a southern gospel flavor, was led by Ken Tipton, minister of music at Calvary Baptist Church in Bel Air, Md., accompanied by Adam Lewandowski, minister of music at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Bel Air. Jud Kossum, pastor of worship and media, Allen Memorial Church, Salisbury, led music during the prayer time before Monday's sessions.
The 2017 BCM/D annual meeting currently is scheduled for Nov. 12-13 at Kettering Baptist Church. Smith said he would recommend to the Order of Business Committee that it be shortened to 24 hours in an effort to reach out to bivocational pastors and those with young families.
Rabbi/pastor Robert Pristoop of Mishkan HaShofar Congregation in Silver Spring, closed the meeting with the blowing of the shofar and the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:23-27.