SBC agency leaders report to messengers

PLANO?In his capacity as executive vice president of the SBC Executive Committee, David Hankins said the SBTC’s partnership with all Southern Baptists contributes to a record number of missionaries and seminary students preparing for ministry.

Yet, “Even though giving is up, the aggregate percentage given by Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program has dropped from 10.6 percent to 6.9 percent,” Hankins said, contrasting receipts over a 20-year period. Total mission dollars given to all causes declined from 17 percent to 11 percent. On average, Southern Baptists barely give more than two percent of their income through local churches, Hankins said.

“Perhaps we need to dust off the old 1950s slogan, ‘Every Baptist a Tither,’ and see what God says about what belongs to him.” He encouraged pastors to encourage tithing, asking members to give to the point of sacrifice “so we may continue to reach out and do ministry” to reach the next generation with the gospel.

North American Mission Board Vice President Harry Lewis applied the expression of Paul in Philippians 1:3, thanking God upon every remembrance of the SBTC. He reported that 5,200 missionaries serve in the U.S. and Canada on behalf of Southern Baptists while 2,400 chaplains are endorsed through NAMB. “Lives are being changed across the world through these chaplains,” Lewis said.

Among his reasons for giving thanks for the convention were:

?faithfulness to the Word of God.

?faithfulness to missions through the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong offering for North American Missions, ranking it ninth among 43 conventions;

?leading all state conventions by giving 52 percent beyond the state.

Lewis asked the SBTC to continue to partner with NAMB in new and unique ways. “Together, let’s just do it for Jesus’ sake.”

O.S. Hawkins, president and CEO of Guidestone Financial Resources (Annuity Board), said, “(Guidestone) has no greater partner in ministry than the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.” He said the convention is a big supporter of the matching funds program and he urged pastors and churches to invest in the retirement and financial planning resources Guidestone offers.

He said the agency annually selects a Bible verse to which the organization will hold itself accountable. This year’s verse is Isaiah 54:2: “Enlarge the site of your tent, and let your tent curtains be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your ropes, and drive your pegs deep.” (HCS)

Hawkins said Guidestone employees pledged to work with an attitude of service, providing biblically-sound guidance to clients. The company will stick to the basics of promoting accountability between Guidestone, churches, and individuals.

He said one of the most significant programs Guidestone oversees is the Adopt-an-Annuitant project. Some surviving family members of pastors have been left with little to live on because of insufficient funds or no investment in retirement by pastors or their churches. The adoptive program matches participating churches with annuitants in need of financial support.

Hawkins also praised the efforts of the Widows Mite prayer program for their support of Guidestone.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, reminded messengers of the importance of voting.

“This is a time that people of faith need to vote their values and convictions,” he said. Christians need to put aside loyalty to party, family voting heritage and perceived economic interests.

“Our loyalty belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought to be looking for candidates who vote our ? beliefs.”

The day Land addressed the SBTC meeting, Oct. 25, it was announced that U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist had thyroid cancer. He said the next president would likely appoint one to three judges to sit on the high court. He asked the congregation if they wanted a country “of the people, by the people and for the people or of the judges, by the judges and for the judges?”

Lifeway Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Mike Arrington, introduced a video presentation from Lifeway President Jimmy Draper. In it, Draper cited the need for the SBC to connect with emerging leaders seeking a place of service in the denomination. “They love our heritage and want to continue it, but there needs to be a greater connection between old and new generations,” he said.

Draper reminded messengers that Lifeway had invested $1.6 million in 14 state conventions in an attempt to double baptisms across the country?to 360,000 in the year 2005.

Although an SBC-governed entity, Lifeway Christian Resources is self-funded and receives no Cooperative Program money.<SPAN style="m

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