Board elects evangelism director, approves strategic refocus, budget

The Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention elected Nathan Lorick of Malakoff as its new evangelism director and passed a proposed $26.3 million budget that reflects a strategic “refocus” of ministry in response to 26 “praying and listening” sessions with pastors and lay leaders across the state in 2011.

Under the proposed budget, evangelism and missions would remain the largest budgeting priority. with 16.5 percent of the recommended in-state budget of $12 million devoted to evangelism and 20.2 percent to missions.

The board voted to reduce the number of ministry relationship categories from three to two, and received two dozen newly affiliated churches. The board also approved a resolution presented by SBTC President Terry Turner that offers support of traditional marriage and asks President Obama to reconsider his endorsement of same-sex marriage. (Signatures to the resolution are being gathered at http://sbtexas.com/marriagepetition/).

In addition to Lorick, the board elected Garrett Wagoner of Frisco, a former student evangelism intern, to fill the vacant student evangelism position.

Lorick replaces Don Cass, who retired last February after nine years with the SBTC. Lorick has pastored First Baptist Church of Malakoff since 2007 and serves as a trustee of the International Mission Board. He holds doctor of ministry and master of divinity degrees from Liberty Theological Seminary, as well as an honorary doctor of divinity from Louisiana Baptist University. He is an East Texas Baptist University graduate.

He also pastored Martin’s Mill Baptist Church in Martin’s Mill and served as student minister at Sylvania Baptist Church in Tyler and First Baptist Church in Waskom. He and his wife, Jenna, have three sons and a newly adopted daughter.

In addition to serving on the SBTC Executive Board, Lorick served as first vice president of the SBTC Pastors’ Conference in 2009.

Early SBTC leader Ronnie Yarber, a member of the Malakoff church who once served as interim evangelism director, lauded Lorick’s “level of spiritual maturity beyond his age of thirty-one years,” giftedness as a preacher and passion to see people won to faith in Christ.

Wagoner first served as a student evangelism intern at the SBTC, enlisting participants and directing the summer Engage Team ministry, which holds revivals in smaller churches throughout Texas. He received his bachelor of arts in biblical studies from Criswell College, where he is pursuing a master of arts in ministry.

Since 2004, he has also been an itinerant evangelist, preaching at youth camps, revivals, and discipleship events, and has served in church planting.

Cass, the former evangelism director, praised Wagoner’s selection to “one of the most important places of service with SBTC because of its focus on reaching teenagers with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

PROPOSED BUDGET

The recommended budget of $26,343,626 for 2013 is a .26 percent increase. Messengers to the SBTC annual meeting in San Antonio in November must approve the budget, which continues to forward 55 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to Southern Baptist Convention ministry with the remaining 45 percent allocated for in-state ministry.

The budget reflects several strategic changes suggested by an ad hoc “Refocus Committee” formed earlier this year by the board to respond to feedback from 26 “praying and listening” sessions held with church leaders across the state in 2011.

“Refocus is a thorough convention-wide examination of SBTC’s ministry prompted by suggestions received from pastors and laypeople throughout the state,” explained Gary Ledbetter, spokesman for the convention. “The committee’s recommendations included enhancing SBTC’s strategic focus in the areas of leadership, discipleship, technology and language ministries.”

Administrative committee chairman David Fleming, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, said the process involved four staff members joined by SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards in considering ways the convention might “refocus” its efforts in light of the praying and listening sessions. Richards noted it is not a convention reorganization but rather an “elevating” of priorities to give strategic focus to things the convention is already doing. In 2013 the SBTC staff will have a net gain of one ministry staff member.

The board moved into executive session to deliberate over the Refocus Report, with budget, salary discussions, and several staff changes reflecting those priorities. The new budget includes reserve funds of $100,000 to cover unanticipated needs resulting from the new structure.

FINANCIAL REPORT

Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis reported that year-to-date CP receipts through July were $388,214 ahead of last year while noting that early August income appears stronger than July, which was a slower-than-usual month. Actual expenses remain under budget with a net operating income through July of $712,192 including interest income and designated giving receipts.

Also through July, giving through the Reach Texas Offering for state missions was $453 higher than the same period last year. The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions was up through July by $74,625. Meanwhile, the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions, in its first month of the giving year, started off slowly, at $210,112 compared to $660,134 in June 2011.

HISPANIC BAPTIST INSTITUTE

A new Hispanic Baptist Institute of Biblical Studies program aimed at educating pastors, church planters and lay leaders for future ministry was also approved. The Spanish-language Bible training is being replicated from the efforts of Chuy Avila, SBTC church planting missions associate, in his ministry with pastors and church planters in Laredo.

The goal, Davis said, is to enlist associations and churches statewide in hosting the new Spanish-language Bible training. The Hispanic Baptist Institute for Biblical Studies is not a new entity but rather the descriptor for a new convention ministry from which students can earn a non-accredited certificate of completion.

The Hispanic Baptist Institute of Biblical Studies Commission, led by a seven-member convention standing committee to act as an advisory group to SBTC staff members responsible for the ministry, replaces the education commission.

The board also approved a reserve funding grant of no more than $5,000 to assist participating churches in Laredo in the incorporation of the Laredo Ministry Network.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards told the board that ministry to students through camps and Student Evangelism Conferences in north and south Texas “saw scores of people coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and savior” and dozens of others recording other spiritual commitments, including the call to ministry.

The summer M3 and Alto Frio camps set attendance records, he said, while the Engage Ministry conducted by collegians and seminarians saw many more come to saving faith, including more than 20 people at one meeting.

Additionally, Richards said church planters continue to be trained and new churches planted. Texas churches are also continuing to embrace unengaged peoples worldwide and in North America.

In closing, Richards urged the board to enlist pastors and laypeople to join other SBTC messengers and guests Nov. 12-13 for the SBTC annual meeting at Castle Hills First Baptist Church in San Antonio for business and worship, including a Tuesday night sermon from former SBC president and Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley.

Richards said hearing the renown pastor would be a “once-in-lifetime opportunity” to hear “in person one of God’s choicest servants.” The encouragement of other like-minded believers and a celebration of shared ministry through the Cooperative Program are more reasons to attend, he added.

OTHER BUSINESS

—Board members approved new language replacing the existing policy for ministry relationships. Relationships will be either “affiliated” or “related ministry” relationships, with the category of “fraternal” ministry relationships eliminated. New relationships will require Executive Board approval.

Existing fraternal relationships with Houston Baptist University and the Baptist Credit Union will continue through 2012, allowing time for them to request new status in the future. The Baptist Missionary Association of Texas, the Korean Baptist Fellowship of Texas and Texas Life Connections may re-apply for related ministry agreements, while existing affiliated entities will not be impacted by the new policy.

—The board also approved the affiliation of 24 churches while clearing its roll of 11 disbanded congregations. The total number of SBTC-affiliated churches as of Aug. 7 was 2,381. Any additional churches that sought affiliation before Aug. 12 will be reviewed by the credentials committee, giving the executive committee permission to approve those requests in time for seating of messengers at the annual meeting.

—A $40,000 grant to the Indian Baptist Society of Bangalore, India, will be used for completion and furnishing of a second-floor addition to their office building. SBTC currently relates to this organization as part of the IMB Embrace the Ends of the Earth strategy.

—The board selected Ernest J. Gregory, Jr. as the recipient of the 2011 Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award, to be presented at the annual meeting. The “missionary kid” is a World War II veteran and surgeon who used his medical skills to pioneer treatment of drug addicts in San Antonio, and remains active as a member of Castle Hills First Baptist Church, host church for the upcoming annual state convention meeting. He served as president of Baptists With A Mission, a conservative layman’s group that helped establish the SBTC. He also served on the editorial board of The Plumbline, a forerunner to the Southern Baptist TEXAN, as well as several SBTC committees.

—With additional reporting by Jerry Pierce

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