Exec. Board adds two ministry staffers

SAN ANTONIO—The Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention elected two ministry associates in the areas of children’s and women’s ministry and church planting, and was challenged by the convention’s executive director to champion Cooperative Program missions giving.

During its fall meeting Nov. 14 in San Antonio, the board also heard from a former board member-turned-church planter, welcomed eight new board appointees, honored the retiring church ministries director, and heard a financial report of net operating income despite slightly lagging CP receipts.

The board re-elected its officers by acclamation. Board Chairman Hal Kinkeade is pastor of First Baptist Church of Springtown, Vice Chairman Bart Barber is pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, and Secretary Jo McGuire is a member of Cornerstone Fellowship Baptist Church in Haskell.

The board hired Emily Smith of Texarkana as church ministries associate serving the areas of women, preschool and children, and Richard Taylor, who most recently served as evangelism director at the Baptist Convention of New York, as church planting associate.

Smith joins the convention staff after serving as children’s minister at Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Ark. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., and a master of arts in Christian education from Southwestern Seminary.

Taylor served the New York convention for 11 years. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Texas A&M-Kingsville and associate of arts and bachelor of arts degrees in Christian education and counseling from New Orleans Seminary. Taylor served four years as associate pastor of youth and young adults at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La.

Addressing the board, SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards asked members to be champions for “missionally driven” churches—one of the SBTC’s three core distinctives, the others being a fellowship that is biblically based and kingdom focused.

Richards said he and his wife, June, plan to increase their church giving by 1 percent this year, and he encouraged board members and their churches to do that or more for the sake of kingdom advancement. He also said he is committing to speak more about the importance of CP giving to worldwide gospel work.

“Almost everything that is done is accomplished by the CP giving of the churches,” Richards told the board. “There is never a time our Cooperative Program dollars are not working for kingdom purposes. Our dollars never sleep.”

Richards also marveled at the number of online visitors who viewed live video streaming of the Bible Conference and annual meeting, held Nov. 11-13 at Castle Hills First Baptist Church in San Antonio. The tally for visitors to the stream at sbtexas.com was 19,191 page views.

Doug Hixson, who left Pampa two years ago to begin a church in South Dakota, reported that the church is growing and more help is welcomed in reaching that region as Connection Church in Spearfish, S.D. plants other churches in surrounding communities. SBTC church groups that have taken short-term mission teams there have witnessed Connection Church grow from a handful of people to several hundred people meeting in a local movie theater. In the short term, the church plans to plant two other churches within a 10-mile radius as church planters are called to the work, Hixson told the board.

Connection Church’s commitment is to put 25 percent of its receipts into missions—10 percent through CP, 10 percent to church planting and 5 percent into local ministries, Hixson said.

“Every week I get a text from Terry Coy telling me that he and his staff are praying for me and my family,” said Hixson, explaining the importance of such encouragement.

One recent convert at Connection Church is a woman named Mary, a butcher-shop worker whose interest in the faith was piqued when a missions team from Texas stopped by the butcher shop bearing donuts and cards from the church that read, “No Perfect People Allowed!” Something about the message on the card resonated with her, and she began attending, was saved and then baptized.

Hixson said Mary describes herself as hard and mean before her conversion. “God not only changed her heart, but he changed her countenance,” he said, adding, “There are Marys around this state and nation who need the gospel.”

The board approved a resolution of appreciation for Jim Wolfe, who joined the SBTC staff as church ministries director 12 years ago. Wolfe and his wife, Kathy, are retiring to Louisiana.

Richards told the board that early in the life of the convention he was seeking a man of integrity who was trustworthy and diligent when he turned to Wolfe to help him develop the convention’s ministry to churches. In Wolfe, he had a proven commodity, having served with him at one church and then as co-laborers in the same city as pastors of different churches in Louisiana. During Wolfe’s 29-year ministry, he has served as pastor, music minister, and youth director for 11 churches in Texas and Louisiana.

Under his leadership, the church ministries staff grew from one person to nine full-time staff members and more than 50 annual training events during a tenure that saw the fellowship grow from fewer than 500 churches for more than 2,400.

The resolution noted that Wolfe “led faithfully to support church health and leadership ministries within the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and he remains committed to building up the church through preaching the Word, equipping the saints, encouraging ministry, and loving others.”

Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis told the board that despite slightly lagging year-to-date Cooperative Program receipts—CP giving was below budget by $403,943 through October—the convention had a net operating income of $1.375 million as of Oct. 31 due to budget constraints, and undesignated gifts and interest income exceeding $305,000. Several staff vacancies contributed to the cost savings, Davis said.

Despite lagging year-to-date giving, October CP receipts were $805,423 higher than in October 2011.

Meanwhile, giving through the Annie Armstrong Offering (North American missions) was up by $37,976 and the Reach Texas Offering (state missions) was up by $3,650. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (international missions) was down significantly from the last giving year—by $349,583—due to two large gifts from the same church, both of which were recorded in the 2011-12 giving year, Davis said.

The giving year for each missions offering differs: Annie Armstrong runs January through December, Lottie Moon June through May, and Reach Texas September through August.

The board welcomed a slate of new members. They are: Larry York, pastor, Nolan River Road Baptist Church, Cleburne; Jared Wellman, pastor, Mission Dorado Baptist Church, Odessa; Gwyn Tidwell, member, Northgate Church, Haslet; Bill Simmons, pastor, River Hills Church, Robstown; Chad King, pastor, First Baptist Church, Childress; Steve Dorman, pastor, First Baptist Church, Brownsville; Josh Crutchfield, pastor, First Baptist Church, Trenton; and Craig Bailey, member, First Baptist Church, Madisonville.

Geoff Kolander, a member of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin who was elected SBTC first vice president, is a board member by virtue of his office but was unable to attend the meeting.

The board approved affiliation for 37 congregations while removing 47 churches, 40 of which had disbanded and seven that became independent or exclusively related to other Baptist groups.

As of Nov. 14, the total number of affiliated churches stood at 2,406.

On Jan. 1, SBTC ministry relationships will be categorized as affiliated ministries and related ministries. The category of fraternal relationships will no longer exist.

Thus, the board approved requests from Korean Baptist Fellowship of Texas, Baptist Missionary Association of Texas, Baptist Credit Union and Houston Baptist University for related ministry status, the latter two formerly being titled “fraternal relationships.”

Only affiliated ministries—which include Criswell College, Jacksonville College, East Texas Baptist Family Ministry and Texas Baptist Home—receive annual budgeted funding.

The board also approved from reserve funds a grant of $250,000 to the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation to supplement the budget of the seven–year-old institution—a decrease in funding from $300,000 in 2011 and $275,000 in 2012—and a $100,000 grant to the Mission Dignity ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources for retired ministers and their spouses.

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TEXAN Correspondent
Jerry Pierce
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