N.Y. Baptists add marriage, gender to constitution

The Baptist Convention of New York prayed for a diverse array of church planters during its Sept. 24-26 annual meeting in Randolph, N.J.
BCNY photo.
RANDOLPH, N.J. (BP) -- Messengers to the Baptist Convention of New York increased giving to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries for the third year in a row and amended the convention's constitution to affirm the biblical definitions of marriage and gender.

Messengers also heard addresses from Woman's Missionary Union executive director-treasurer Sandra Wisdom-Martin and Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware executive director Kevin Smith during their Sept. 24-26 sessions at Bible Church International in Randolph, N.J. A total of 94 messengers represented 61 of the 496 churches that cooperate with the BCNY.

Two amendments to the BCNY constitution dealing with the topics of gender and marriage were adopted unanimously. Both amendments were first presented at the 2016 annual meeting and voted on this year, a process specified in the convention's governing documents.

The first amendment added to the convention's affirmation of the Baptist Faith and Message the statement, "We also believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Rejection of one's biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person."

The second amendment deems churches "not in cooperation with the Convention" if they "act to affirm, approve, [or] endorse ... same-sex marriage, or any expression of marriage other than the uniting of one biological man and one biological woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime."

The BCNY constitution previously stated churches are not in cooperation if they affirm, approve or endorse "homosexual behavior," a statement that remains in the constitution.

In other business, the convention adopted a 2018 budget of $2,431,500, a 17-percent increase from the current year.

Included in the 2018 budget: $780,000 in anticipated Cooperative Program giving from BCNY churches, for 32 percent of the budget; $1,235,000 in anticipated funding from the North American Mission Board; and $70,000 anticipated from LifeWay Christian Resources.

The convention will forward 29 percent of CP receipts to the SBC's national and international missions and ministries, up from 28.5 percent in 2017 and 27.5 percent in 2016. The budget includes no shared expenses with the SBC.

Reelected as convention officers were: President Paul Flores, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Nazaret in West New York, N.J.; Vice President Dan Schallmo, pastor of Summit Church in Cazenovia, N.Y.; and Recording Secretary Van McClain, pastor of Perry Road Baptist Church in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Elected as assistant recording secretary was Matt Evans, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Ted Harvey, pastor of Somerset Hills Baptist Church in Basking Ridge, N.J., delivered the annual sermon.

BCNY church planters presented at the meeting represented a broad array of ethnic groups.

One of the convention's workshops focused on the reasons Ridgewood Bible Church in Lockport, N.Y., began to cooperate with the BCNY and the SBC earlier this year.

Ridgewood pastor Chuck Jennings said the congregation noted at least 19 benefits of cooperating with the SBC, according to a handout distributed at the workshop. Those benefits included "fantastic resources, training, accountability and support for church planters" and opportunities for Ridgewood to "enlarge its impact" through North American and international church planting.

In addition to Wisdom-Martin and Smith, among the meeting's guest speakers were Bill Townes, vice president for convention finance at the SBC Executive Committee; an International Mission Board missionary; Steve Davis, a NAMB vice president for convention relations; and Lindsey Long of GuideStone Financial Resources.

Next year's annual meeting will be Sept. 23-25 at Trinity Baptist Church in Niskayuna, N.Y.

Compiled by Baptist Press chief national correspondent David Roach based on reporting from the Baptist Convention of New York staff.
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