Maryland/Delaware Baptist meeting: 'United in Prayer'

by Sharon Mager/Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, posted Monday, November 19, 2018 (21 days ago)

BEL AIR, Md. (BP) -- The 183rd annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware was held Nov. 1-12 at the Oak Grove Baptist Church, founded in 1931 in Bel Air, Md.

Messengers elected a new slate of officers and adopted the 2019 budget. BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith announced a new international partnership with the Baptist Convention of Kenya. The convention's theme was "Maryland/Delaware Baptists United in Prayer: Celebrating God's Mission in Maryland/Delaware."

This year's meeting, attended by 320 messengers and 88 guests included a substantial time of prayer for church plants. Special guests were Johnny Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Woodstock, Ga., and the North American Mission Board's new senior vice president of evangelism and leadership; Christina Edmondson, dean of intercultural student development at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Tony Merida, pastor for preaching and vision, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, N.C.

Executive director's report

Kevin Smith recognized new staff, shared some "retooling" strategies to serve churches and introduced the international partnership.

Regarding staff, Smith said, "For the first time since I've been here [since June 2016], we have a full complement of church planting catalysts in cooperation with the North American Mission Board," referring to Rolando Castro, Dan Hyun and James Choi under the leadership of BCM/D state director of missions Michael Crawford.

Smith also recognized creative director Reggie Davis, who joined the staff in September, and two new church service consultants, Mike Trammell and John Gauger, both retired BCM/D pastors. Trammell, the BCM/D's outgoing president, will serve in the Delmarva area.

Mark Dooley, pastor of Leonardtown Baptist Church, will join the staff in January as state director of evangelism.

Smith emphasized three priorities of the convention: encouraging pastors in every phase of life; ministry support; and church and community outreach.

Pointing to a slideshow of BCM/D church baptism photos, Smith said, "We want to serve churches and increase baptisms, and make our churches fruitful, whether they're 100 days old or 100 years old."

Looking ahead, Smith said the BCM/D, in an effort to help revitalize churches, will continue to use the AWAKEN Cohort approach to revitalization. Partnering with the Eastern Baptist Association, a new cohort will soon begin in the Delmarva area.

Also, in cooperation with NAMB and funded by the Cooperative Program, the convention will partner with Thom Rainer's Revitalize Network, an individualized approach to revitalization providing coaching and other opportunities. The costs will be discounted because of the BCM/D partnership with NAMB.

The BCM/D also will soon offer a sermon-based approach to revitalization in partnership with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

The international partnership with the Baptist Convention of Kenya for 2019-2021 will focus on strategic areas in western Kenya near Lake Victoria, Smith said. It will entail pastoral and ministry leader training; preaching in middle and high schools; orphan care; and infrastructure support.

Business

In the business portion of the meeting, messengers unanimously elected a new slate of convention officers: president, Harold Phillips, senior pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Port Deposit, Md.; first vice president, Glenn Swanson, senior pastor of Bayside Baptist Church, Chesapeake Beach, Md.; second vice president, Andy Ehlers, senior pastor of High Tide Baptist Church, Dagsboro, Del.,; recording secretary, Stephanie Laferriere, Gospel worker with One Hope, a ministry of the Garden Church, Baltimore; and assistant recording secretary, Mike Fillis, pastor of Fenwick Island Baptist Church, Selbyville, Del.

Messengers unanimously adopted a $7,582,603 budget that includes $2,271,720 in total receipts for BCM/D's Skycroft Conference Center. Additional budget receipts include an anticipated $3,600,000 in Cooperative Program gifts from churches; $150,000 in state missions offering; and $980,000 from the North American Mission Board.

The 2019 budget represents a 2 percent decrease compared to 2018. It allocates 48 percent of 2019 CP receipts to SBC national and international missions and ministries, unchanged from last year's budget but a 4.5 percent increase from 2017.

In addition, messengers passed a resolution expressing appreciation to Oak Grove Baptist Church for hosting the annual meeting with graciousness, generosity and professionalism.

Prayer & testimony

Introducing a time of testimony and prayer, Michael Crawford said, "Church planting has never been better. Churches are really planting churches."

Looking to the future, Crawford said, "If we're going to perpetuate the BCM/D, which has been around for more than 100 years, sending money out and planting churches, we have to invest in the men and women coming up behind us. I've had the opportunity to meet some amazing young men. Our future is in really good hands because God's grace is all over them."

Sharing testimonies and leading in prayer were planters Adam Muhtaseb of Redemption City Church in Baltimore; Rob Stephens, planter and lead pastor of Aletheia Church, College Park, Md.; and Josean "JD" Nater planter of Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Cambridge, Md., Camino De Esperanza Seaford, Del., and Camino de Esperanza Wilmington, Del.

CJ Matthews, planter of Bethany Church in Columbia, Md., led a devotional based on Joshua 2. He cautioned pastors against discouragement when they see other plants experiencing exponential growth while theirs is a group of people meeting in a living room. Matthews noted that "it's not a competition."

"Jesus promised to be with us as we push back the darkness," Matthews said. "Wherever He has called you, He's with you and will not leave you."

Breakout sessions & speakers

Johnny Hunt primarily addressed pastors and lay leaders while Christina Edmondson addressed pastors' wives and other women in attendance.

Hunt spoke of finishing well and the traits of those who did so. "People who finish well lived in the Word and on their knees," he said. They also leave spiritual legacies. Challenging his audience, Hunt asked, "What would you have to change in your life to change your legacy?"

Edmonson shared from Matthew 18, the parable about the unforgiving servant.

The kingdom of heaven is like a king who is seeking to settle the debts with his servants, Edmonson said. "How gracious. And how may that reorient us to think about how the Lord treats us and seeks us and loves us," she said.

In the president's address, Mike Trammell, drawing from 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, said, "When Jesus comes back to get His children, we will never say goodbye to Him again. We will always be with Him. What a great thought and comfort that is. He urged Christians to be steadfast, unmovable, cautioning against distraction from doing the work of the Lord.

Tony Merida spoke from Romans 8:31-39, emphasizing that "God is for us." Using an airline ticket as an example, he said some travelers are on "standby," not sure if they'll make the flight. "Christians have a confirmed ticket," he said.

In the final sermon of the annual meeting, Smith shared from Matthew 22:40, emphasizing that we must love God, vertically, and love our neighbors, horizontally. "On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets," he quoted from the passage. "It's not, 'love God' or 'love your neighbor' -- it's both."

Harold Phillips closed in prayer, "We're rejoicing that we're a convention that clings to your Word. ... We trust You, Father. We pray that You will unify us."

Sharon Mager is serves with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware as a communications specialist and correspondent for the convention's BaptistLIFE newsjournal.
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