IRVING, Texas – Prayers of gratitude for God’s blessings on the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention took priority during the July 31 Executive Board meeting. With unanimity the board approved support of East Texas Baptist Family Ministry, recommended a 17 percent increase for the 2004 budget, elected a new managing editor, praised Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees for their election of Paige Patterson as president, selected evangelist Rudy Hernandez for the SBTC’s highest honor, and commended SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards for five years of service.
John Morgan, a board member from Houston, set the stage with a devotional reminder that every word or deed should be offered for the glory of God. When Jesus is present in the midst of believers, Morgan said they will experience peace, gratefulness, gladness, usefulness, and power.
SBTC Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis explained the process whereby the convention has set aside funds to start construction on an office along Highway 360 at the southern edge of Grapevine. Prior board action allocating $3.2 million in surplus funds from 2002 coupled with $530,000 of the current year’s overage allow the building to be completed debt-free.
“The giving has continued to be strong,” Davis said, noting that Cooperative Program receipts from local churches are averaging $1,278,000 per month. “We have received about a million more than budgeted this year?running sixteen percent ahead.”
Morgan asked for permission to interrupt the agenda after hearing the financial report, calling for a prayer of thanksgiving to God in appreciation for men and women who led in allocating the funds. “I don’t want to take this for granted. This is an awesome financial report.”
He recognized that many of the 35 board members have leadership roles with other organizations where financial setbacks have occurred. “I challenge any of you to tell about an organization that has such a wonderful statement as this.”
Board member Miles Seaborn of Fort Worth responded, praying, “We have made a concerted effort to be true and faithful to the principles of your Word.” He asked God for wisdom in expenditures, recognizing “the most dangerous times are when we have more money than anticipated.” Seaborn added, “Don’t let us get diverted or lead into a path that’s not your path, a will that’s not your will. It’s all in your wisdom that we know when [to spend], and we give you the glory and honor.”
The board approved an Executive Committee recommendation creating a Committee on Affiliated and Fraternally Related Ministries as a standing committee with five members appointed by the board chairman annually. Currently, SBTC has a fraternal relationship with Texas Baptist Men and, in addition to an existing affiliation relationship with The Criswell College, approved an affiliation agreement with East Texas Baptist Family Ministry.
The new ministry in Timpson, Texas, is developing 50 homes that will accommodate 300 children, two 5,500-square foot maternity homes and 150 retiree homes. Facilities will be built on 272 acres along FM 137 between the towns of Garrison and Center.
“This [affiliation agreement] is in keeping with the SBTC not being an owner, but a partner with institutions,” explained Human Care Task Force Chairman Steve Cochran of Longview. “The SBTC will be able to provide churches with Baptist options for childcare, maternity and retirement housing. And we’re keeping institutional spending in the operational budget under fifteen percent.”
Board member Al Kawamotto of Arlington offered a strong endorsement of the plan, having served on the task force that studied ETBFM, praising the work of Director Gerald Edwards. Kawamotto distinguished Edwards from many people who “think and talk” about starting a ministry, noting, “If God says, ‘Go do it,’ and he does it, that puts him in a different spot from all the other people.”
Long-range plans call for ETBFM to offer recreational, educational and retreat events, as well as housing equipment for disaster relief, volunteer buildings, and crusade evangelism. As funds are made available later this year, the first children’s home will be built, followed by construction of the first maternity home after the second phase of fundraising.
The SBTC provided $10,000 for assistance in the initial operation of ETBFM, pledging an additional $75,000 next year and $125,000 in 2005. Another $148,700 has already been received from other sources. The SBTC will nominate five individuals to serve as members of the ETBFM Executive Board. ETBFM agrees to support the ministries and affirm the efforts of the SBC and the Cooperative Program, supporting the Baptist Faith and Message doctrinal statement, comply with applicable state and federal law, and engage an independent CPA to perform a year-end audit.