SBTC Executive Board approves 2010 budget; hires field ministry strategist

The Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention hired a new field ministry strategist, finalized proposals for the upcoming state convention meeting in Lubbock and affirmed the participation of SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards on the 23-member Great Commission Task Force appointed by SBC President Johnny Hunt.

Gordon Knight leads SBTC’s Southeast Texas Rebuild Ministry, working with over 10,000 mission volunteers through Nehemiah’s Vision to help victims of disasters in Texas. As field ministry strategist he will be responsible for a portion of southeast Texas in which 272 SBTC-affiliated churches are located between College Station and Alto and Houston.

Knight pastored First Baptist Church of Pineland, Pine Burr Baptist Church in Beaumont, and Rogansville Baptist Church, as well as congregations in Louisiana and West Virginia. He attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and earned a B.S. from Texas A&M University. He also has experience as a licensed social worker, human resources director and as partner in a construction company.

The Board unanimously approved a 2010 budget proposal of $24,837,098, representing an increase of 1.18% over the current year’s budget. A 55/45 division of CP receipts from local churches will be maintained with 55% forwarded to SBC mission causes and the remaining 45% funding in-state ministry. Messengers to the 2009 annual meeting will consider the recommendation Oct. 26-27 in Lubbock.

Missions remains the largest funded item in the budget at 24.48%; followed by church ministries receiving 12.72%, evangelism at 12.16%;facilitating ministries at 10.04% (benefitting educational institutions, family care ministries and other ministry organizations who partner with the SBTC); communications at 9’62%; and minister/church relations at 8.4%. Operational costs amount to 10.7% of the budget with no salary increases for employees in the coming year.

Asked about that joint recommendation from staff and the administration committee regarding salaries, Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis said, “We don’t want to be having raises when our churches are experiencing in many cases difficulty. We felt it was appropriate in this economic climate with what’s going on across the state and country.”

Messengers to last year’s convention approved a 2009 SBTC budget of $23.9 million, which reflected a 14 percent increase over the prior year. CP receipts through June are $2,552 under budget, however prudent spending has allowed the convention to operate at a surplus for the year to date.

“While we are not exceeding the budget, not one ministry has gone unfunded, no event has been cancelled and no staff has been laid off,” Richards reported, anticipating the convention will meet its budget for the year due to the faithfulness of churches.

“The Cooperative Program is the best missions/ministry investment of any partnership giving plan in the evangelical world,” he added, encouraging board members to prayerfully consider proposing some increase at their churches in the upcoming year.

Other proposals approved for consideration at the state convention address a Certificate of Formation to replace the Articles of Incorporation and bylaw changes in keeping with a new Business Organization Code affecting nonprofit corporations in Texas. The proposed changes were published in the July 28 issue of the TEXAN.

Bylaw changes provide specific authority for the Executive Board to enter into, modify or terminate affiliation agreements, as well as the ability to reduce, eliminate or re-direct budget funds approved for third parties (entities outside SBTC approved for budget funding), addressing a concern raised by a messenger to last year’s convention.

The proposals also remove indemnity language which is included in the new code, explain the term “affiliate” to confirm church autonomy and include messenger voting and meeting notice provisions. A bylaw amendment for the SBTC Foundation stipulates semi-annual instead of annual meetings of its board of directors.

The board unanimously approved a cash pledge in the amount of $200,000 to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to be used in the construction of a new chapel.

The board approved the recommendation of Credentials Committee Chairman Jimmy Pritchard of Forney regarding new church affiliations, bringing the total to 2,150 congregations. New church starts and existing Baptist churches are affiliating at a rate of one every other day, Richards added.

“SBTC churches are growing spiritually, too,” he said. “More of our affiliated churches are seeking ways to become Great Commission congregations, missional, Acts 1:8—whatever you want to call it, they’re getting in business with God and in the Father’s things,” Richards said, repeating the devotional emphasis of board member Glenn Perce of Iowa Park on the kingdom priority described in the first recorded words of Jesus.

The board encouraged Richards’ participation in the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force assigned to study how Southern Baptists can work more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission. The resolution stated, “The work of the task force will have a substantial impact on Baptist cooperative work around the world for years to come,” pledging continued prayer support for their effort.

Criswell College Interim President Lamar E. Cooper Sr. was endorsed as the next recipient of the Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award and will be honored at the annual meeting in Lubbock.

Outgoing board members honored for their service included Paul Anderson of Borger, Roy Ford of Hooks, Kim Lawson of Sherman, George Levant of Laredo and Carmel Melton of Andrews. Ron Garcia of Pecos and Andy Jackson of Malakoff will be honored at a later time due to their inability to attend the July 21 meeting.

Facilitating ministries reports were offered from Criswell College, Jacksonville College, East Texas Baptist Family Ministries and Texas Baptist Children’s Home. The renewal of affiliation agreements with the two schools will be considered at the next board meeting.

The board also approved reallocation of previously allocated funds designated for technology and a statewide Sunday school emphasis, allowing broader use within department budgets.

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