La. Baptists hear call to reach the next generation
BATON ROUGE, La. (BP) -- David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, has announced his plans to retire, sharing his intentions during the 2018 LBC annual meeting, with the theme of "Imprint -- Marking the Next Generation."
"I have every confidence that God is going to take care of this convention and bring about good things and better things for His glory," Hankins, 68, told messengers during the Nov. 12-13 meeting at Temple Baptist Church in Ruston. "So I know you will join me in praying during these transition days.
Hankins' retirement will be effective June 30, 2019.
Waylon Bailey, president of the LBC Executive Board and pastor of the First Baptist Church in Covington, spoke to the Baptist Message, expressing high regard for Hankins.
"Dr. Hankins has brought strong, clear and principled leadership to the office of executive director of the LBC," Bailey said. "It's been a great 14 and one-half years. We are praying for a great future for David and Patty and hold the same hope for the convention because of his exceptional work."
Bailey also said he was buoyed about the prospects for the search process, particularly because of the spiritual character he senses about the team.
"I am encouraged by the composition of the search committee," he said. "There is wide representation of Louisiana Baptists.
Bailey also noted that all 15 search committee members were present and participating in the business of the convention during the annual meeting, without being prompted to attend or having prior notice of Hankins' plans to retire and the potential for being named to a search committee. He added that he expects the committee to begin the search process by the end of November.
With the theme of "Imprint -- Marking the Next Generation" adapted from Deuteronomy 6:7, messengers learned about progress being made toward completing one of the convention's key goals outlined in the President's 2020 Commission Report.
The next generation, or Nexters, is one of two groups identified as a target audience in the document, adopted by messengers at the 2013 Louisiana Baptist Convention annual meeting. The 2020 initiative seeks to reach every generation and every people group in Louisiana with the Gospel by the year 2020 through congregational revitalization, church planting, communications and collaboration.
Examples of reaching the next generation include:
-- Ongoing efforts by Louisiana College to increase scholarship funding and expand curriculum offerings, with a goal to build its student body to 1,500 by 2020.
-- Completion of nine new or remodeled or expanded Baptist Student Ministry buildings since 2006 on campuses reaching a combined population of nearly 90,000 students.
-- Continued growth at Tall Timbers, from 995 in total camp attendance in 2009 to 2,428 in 2018, encompassing 1,510 salvation decisions during that 10-year period.
Budget & elections
Messengers approved a year-to-year reduced Cooperative Program budget. The 2019 financial plan is based on expected contributions of $18,813,818, a decrease of $693,587. Cooperative Program projections are based on actual receipts from August 2017 through July 2018.
The allocation formula for distributing Cooperative Program gifts between Southern Baptist Convention and Louisiana Baptist Convention causes remains unchanged, with 63.26 percent supporting ministries in the state and 36.74 percent being forwarded to fund national entities.
This equates to $11,901,622 in Cooperative Program funds for Louisiana Baptist missions and ministries, a decrease of $438,579 from 2018.
Messengers reelected Eddie Wren, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Rayville, as president. Leroy Fountain, church health strategist for the New Orleans Baptist Association, was elected first vice president with Eddie Rhymes, director of missions for the Deer Creek Association, elected second vice president.
All three men were elected by acclamation.
Messengers affirmed six resolutions, including a call for the protection of faith-based adoption and child care entities, and one declaring Louisiana Baptists' "unwavering commitment to rescue and protect life from the womb through eternity."
A third resolution asks state government leaders to "safeguard the constitutional rights of all students to engage in religious speech and expression" while encouraging Louisiana Baptist students "to be ambassadors of Christ in the exercise of their religious liberty rights on public school campuses."
The fourth resolution strongly admonishes predatory payday lenders and calls on governing officials "to investigate … abuses" and "institute just regulations and policies" in this regard.
The fifth resolution declares that immigration laws should be obeyed and national borders should be secured, while also asking for "a carefully considered legal path to legal status, not amnesty" to address the illegal immigration crisis in the country.
A sixth resolution voiced appreciation to Temple Baptist Church in Ruston for hosting the annual meeting and to the individuals who contributed in the production of the two-day event.
Myrt Hales, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Rayville, submitted the only motion at the annual meeting.
Hales' motion called for the convention to form a committee to "explore establishing a Christian-based addiction recovery center to aid people with chemical dependencies to overcome and be redeemed into freedom from the chains of addiction and to experience the love and redemption found in Christ."
The motion was referred to the Executive Board by the Committee on the Order of Business for study and deliberation. They will bring a report to next year's annual meeting for further action.