N.Y. convention's resolutions focus on events of Sept. 11

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (BP)--Resolutions commending New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, New York Gov. George Pataki and President George W. Bush and addressing terrorism, disaster relief and Islam were approved by the 171 messengers attending the Nov. 1-2 Baptist Convention of New York annual meeting.

The resolution of commendation for the three government leaders cited Guiliani and Pataki for "their leadership in response to the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001," while Bush was commended for "his strength and character and resolve taken to unite ALL Americans in peace, truth, and liberty. He has unabashedly lifted up the name of our Lord and has given a constant reminder to all Americans that 'God Bless America' is more than a motto, it is a prayer." Bush also was noted for "taking a strong stand for reminding all Americans that God is our true Strength and Protection."

The resolution noted, "... we pray that the good Lord will give them direction, wisdom and discernment in the many challenging moral and ethical propositions, bills and regulations that come before them on such diverse issues as gambling, homosexuality, abortion and others. May they follow the wisdom that comes through Jesus Christ versus the wisdom of man."

In a resolution on terrorism, messengers noted that "the threat of additional acts of terrorism has become part of our daily lives, resulting in fear, uncertainty about the future, and a need for increased vigilance." Thus, "...we covenant together to pray for and to continue to minister to the many people who have suffered or who will suffer loss during this time" and "[to] support the United States of America's war on terrorism and our troops, who are placing their lives on the line for their God and country." The convention encouraged "all Christians to recognize the opportunity and responsibility for people of faith to express their hope in the future and comfort in the present based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

In a resolution on disaster relief work in the wake of "great sorrow, suffering, rubble and destruction" caused by the Sept. 11 tragedy, New York Baptists noted that "many were in need of dire physical, mental and spiritual help and assistance" and "many in America responded to this cry, including Southern Baptists, Disaster Relief Teams, and chaplains who assisted in the physical and spiritual feeding of people" -- "brave souls gave of themselves unselfishly, so that they could reach out in love with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. ... [We] commend all who made a difference -- You are all TRUE HEROES!"

And, in a resolution on Islam, the convention stated, "... we, as Christians and Southern Baptists, are to love and respect all human beings, be they of different faiths, creeds or nations" and "we denounce threats and acts of criminal violence against all people," regardless of their faith.

At the same time, the resolution stated, "... we ... wish it to be known that the God of the Christian Bible, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, which form the Trinity, is the One True God for all mankind." Because "Christ gave us the Great Commission to 'go ..., teach ..., baptize ..." and because "we love all people, we will tell all people about Jesus, including people of different faiths and beliefs."

The annual meeting, with its "New Life" theme, drew messengers from 91 churches to the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel. Vassar Road Baptist Church and the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association served as the convention hosts.

A 2002 budget of $3,280,259 was approved, marking a 6 percent increase over the current budget. In Cooperative Program giving, the budget anticipates receipts of $720,155 from the convention's churches, of which 75 percent will be utilized in New York missions and ministries and 25 percent for Southern Baptist Convention causes, up from the current 24.5 percent SBC designation.

Bruce Aubrey, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Liverpool, was re-elected president for a second term. Other officers elected were Bill Smith, pastor of North Buffalo Community Church in Buffalo, N.Y., as first vice president and Darryl Lincoln, a member of Calvary Baptist Church, Canton, as second vice president. David Shepherd, a member of Trinity Baptist Church in Niskayuna, was re-elected recording secretary.

In a change voted to the convention's constitution, the number of representatives on the executive board is being increased from two to three from each association having 1,000 or less resident members and allowing no more than 15 members from any district associational area. Language also was added to the constitution promoting the ethnic diversity of the convention and encouraging committees to keep this in mind when nominating members for boards and entities.

In his presidential address, Aubrey challenged fellow pastors to never underestimate how God could use them to reach multitudes for Christ someday. "Someday has come," he said. "We walk on top of the labors of others from times past. I love New York, but I don't love New York nearly as much as God loves New York.

"When God calls, it's worth going. Things will take longer than you think. It's time to go for the harvest across the Baptist Convention of New York," Aubrey said.

In the convention sermon, Sean Pierce, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Potsdam, challenged fellow believers to win people to Christ in light of Sept. 11's terrorist attack. "The real tragedy of Sept. 11," Pierce said, "is that people died and went to hell. There are only two things that we can take with us to heaven -- ourselves and somebody else. Weigh every ministry in light of people being saved. People need Jesus."

Michael Williams, the Georgia Baptist Convention's assistant executive director and chief operating officer, also led convention Bible studies from Ezekiel 37: 1-10.

Next year's annual meeting will be Nov. 7-8 in Syracuse.

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Based on reporting by Bonnie Novak. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: NY BAPTIST LEADERS.

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