Pa./S. Jersey increases CP, launches simulcast

YORK, Pa. (BP) -- The Baptist Resource Network (BRN) of Pennsylvania/South Jersey increased the percentage of Cooperative Program gifts it will forward to Southern Baptist Convention causes and saw hundreds view the first-ever livestream of its annual meeting.

A season of prayer focused on repentance and re-commitment during the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey’s Nov. 2-3 annual meeting.
Photo courtesy of the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey
Some 207 messengers and 93 guests from 110 churches gathered at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in York, Pa., for the BRN's Nov. 2-3 annual meeting, with an emphasis on church health. Engaging the lost, discipling believers and developing "next-generation leaders" were among the characteristics of healthy churches discussed.

Executive director Barry Whitworth explained the BRN's new tagline -- "healthy churches start here" -- in his address to messengers.

"Our vision is to see every church become a healthy, multiplying church," said Whitworth, who was elected executive director in December 2016.

The convention approved a 1.49-percent budget increase to $2,973,000. That amount anticipates CP receipts from churches of $1,104,500; $1,300,000 from the North American Mission Board; and $81,500 from Lifeway Christian Resources.

The budget allocates 27.5 percent of 2018 CP receipts to SBC national and international missions and ministries, up from 26.3 percent in 2017. The remaining 72.5 percent will go toward Pennsylvania/South Jersey missions and ministries. The budget does not include any shared ministry expenses.

Leaders of the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey presented a special gift of $14,500 to SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page (second from right) for SBC Cooperative program causes.
Photo courtesy of the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey
"We have been abundantly blessed by the national Cooperative Program, and it is important to us to give back as generously as we can," Whitworth said.

The assembly responded with applause when the Executive Board and Whitworth reported 70.5 percent of the overall budget -- including CP receipts and other income sources -- will go to missions and servicing churches.

In light of an Executive Board vote to give 10 percent of any special gifts directly to SBC CP missions and ministries, Pennsylvania/South Jersey Baptists presented Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, with a check for $14,500 -- 10 percent of a recent property gift to the BRN.

By unanimous consent, the convention elected the following officers: president, Kevin Roberts, pastor of Community Baptist Church in Charleroi, Pa.; first vice president, George Tynes, pastor of Truth Baptist Church in Philadelphia; second vice president, Jerry Cowan, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Middletown, Pa.; and recording secretary, Antoinette Buie, a member of Ezekiel Baptist Church in Philadelphia.

The BRN's inaugural online simulcast drew viewers via, Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

"The majority of our convention pastors are bivocational," communications director Mark Sentell said. "So we were delighted to use technology to connect so many people to the celebration, even if they couldn't be there in person."

Prior to the main convention sessions, participants gathered for breakout sessions on church health, visited with ministry partners and contributed to an interactive exhibit highlighting the pursuit of healthy church behaviors.

Next year's annual meeting will be held in York, Nov. 1-2.

Mark Sentell is communications director for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey.
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