N.M. Baptists retire debt, seek the lost
UPDATED Monday, Nov. 9, 2009.
GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)--Nearly 400 Baptists from across the Land of Enchantment braved a wintry mix of cold and snow to celebrate the retirement of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico's indebtedness and to commit to carrying out "God's Plan for Sharing."
At least four inches of snow fell on the grounds of the LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains east of Santa Fe on the convention's final day as BCNM messengers and guests gathered in Holcomb Auditorium for the burning of the note the convention has carried on its building in Albuquerque since 2001. The debt was retired seven years before it was due to be paid in full.
Around four dozen attendees later took part of their free afternoon to attend an overview of the North American Mission Board's national evangelism initiative, God's Plan for Sharing (GPS), and its Evangelism Response Center.
GPS, explained Jimmy Kinnaird, resource coordinator for NAMB's personal evangelism team, is the Southern Baptist Convention's "multi-year effort ... that all Southern Baptists [can] rally around" that involves "Every Believer Sharing, Every Person Hearing by 2020."
Evangelistic campaigns will be held every two years through 2020, Kinnaird said. The initiative next year will entail prayerwalking, Gospel distribution and media saturation in the weeks leading up to Easter and five weeks of follow-up.
Those in attendance also were encouraged to learn to share the Gospel and to pray with those reached during the effort, becoming part of NAMB's Evangelism Response Center, and their churches were urged to become "Covenant Churches" that promise to contact those in their areas who make decisions for Christ within three days.
"Our God Reigns" was the theme of the BCNM's 98th annual meeting, with 294 messengers from 104 churches and 77 of their guests attending the Oct. 27-28 sessions. Approximately 330 congregations with more than 58,000 resident members are affiliated with the BCNM. Participating in BCNM business for the first time were messengers from four churches that had never had messengers seated at a BCNM meeting.
The convention was preceded on Tuesday morning by the annual meeting of New Mexico Baptists' Woman's Missionary Union and the Pastors'/Laymen's Annual Meeting, and by the BCNM's annual missions banquet the night before.
BCNM President Bruce Kirby, pastor at First Baptist Church in Raton, presided during the meeting, assisted by First Vice President Garland Moore, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Milan, and Second Vice President Gavin Vaughan II, pastor of Hermosa Drive Baptist Church, Artesia.
All three were the only nominees for re-election to their respective positions for a second one-year term.
EMPHASIS ON EVANGELISM
"Someone Must Share" was the theme of both the convention's opening session and Kirby's message. Telling lost people about Jesus "is what it's all about," Kirby said, encouraging his fellow New Mexico Baptists to resist the temptation to "hunker down." Acknowledging the impact of the economy on giving in the church he leads, Kirby announced, "Before we cut our mission giving, we'll cut out the plastic silverware."
"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news," Kirby said, quoting the first part of the Scripture for the annual meeting, Isaiah 52:7.
None of the challenges facing Southern Baptists is "insurmountable," BCNM Executive Director Joseph Bunce declared in his annual address that evening. "God is still God!" he emphasized.
"Far too often our judgmental spirit cripples our ministry" of urging lost people to come home to God, Bunce said, adding that in the four years he has led the convention, he has become convinced of the importance of networking with and caring for one another.
"We must not let the lights go out here at home seeking to change the world," he stressed.
"We don't have problems; we have unresolved opportunities," said Albuquerque pastor Bob Myers in the convention sermon.
"We'll start winning people to Jesus Christ when we start acting like Jesus," the pastor of Del Norte Baptist Church said repeatedly during his message.
"We do have a mandate to win our world to Jesus Christ," Myers underscored, adding that it would happen when Christians live under the lordship of Christ, reflect Him in their lives and live the Sermon on the Mount.
"God's stimulus package" was the topic addressed by R. Philip Roberts, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., during the convention's two Bible studies.
Roberts examined the conditions for revival during the convention's opening session on Tuesday afternoon and its blessings the following morning.
When God's people get right with Him, "the world takes notice," Roberts said, noting that God's Spirit will motivate believers with a spiritual intensity and concern for the salvation of everyone else.
"Revival is what America really needs," he said.
"Jesus came to seek and to save what was lost, and He intends to use us in that," Michael Dean, pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, said during the first of his two messages during the convention.
Dean, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Artesia and former BCNM executive board chairman, noted on Tuesday evening that "Jesus notices people that others ignore," He "engages people that others reject" and He "changes people that others give up on."
Increasing people's faith is what God is "up to" in times of trial, Dean said during his message the next day. He encouraged those present for the convention's final message to bring their troubles to Jesus and to trust Him to increase their faith.
This year's annual meeting was punctuated by times of prayer during each session -- for the lost, for ministers and members of BCNM churches and for BCNM staff members.
Messengers zipped through each of the convention's business sessions, passing every recommendation with few questions and no apparent opposition.
Following a report of the convention's Christian Life Committee, messengers approved six resolutions, three of which clearly stated New Mexico Baptists' opposition to a number of moral issues currently being considered by state legislators, including same-sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research, assisted suicide, abortion on demand, euthanasia and the scourges of drugs, alcohol, gambling and pornography.
Messengers also resolved to thank the state's Baptist volunteers who "serve and bring tangible and spiritual relief in times of natural disaster and to needy communities" and state convention staff members and their families, whom they pledged to pray for daily.
They approved the BCNM's 2010 budget, which is slightly smaller than the 2009 budget, which is the largest in the convention's history. Next year's budget will require $4,473,375 in Cooperative Program receipts from the churches, a reduction of $82,051, or 0.05 percent, from the amount called for in the current budget.
The new budget includes no increases in salaries for BCNM employees.
After the exception of $39,543 for exempt obligations (post-retirement benefits, church-retirement plan and notes payable minus additional lease income) is applied, 30.5 percent of the Cooperative Program receipts ($1,352,319 next year) will continue to be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions and ministry.
The remaining 69.5 percent ($3,081,513), along with income of $1,904,298 from various sources -- Baptist New Mexican subscriptions and advertising, Baptist Building rental income and the SBC's North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources -- will be used to support a total operating budget of $5,025,354 for mission work in New Mexico.
Next year's annual meeting will be Oct. 26-27 at First Baptist Church in Roswell.
John Loudat is editor of the Baptist New Mexican, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.