GRAPEVINE—The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board heard a pair of encouraging reports regarding a growing network of partnerships outside the state, as well as a summer full of activity in student ministry that led to hundreds of decisions for Christ, at its regularly scheduled triannual meeting on Aug. 15.
Missions Mobilization Associate Colin Rayburn spoke about the strategic partnerships that have been developed with the Convention of Southern Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico and the Nevada Baptist Convention. Through those partnerships, the SBTC has provided strategic vision opportunities for four of its churches in Puerto Rico, while also helping resource a retreat for pastors and their wives on the island—the first such event that had been offered to them in many years.
Rayburn also reported the Nevada Baptist Convention recently hosted an Equip Conference similar to what the SBTC hosts in Texas annually. Additionally, a vision trip which will aim to connect SBTC churches with strategic partnerships with Southern Baptist churches in Nevada is scheduled for Sept. 11-13.
Student Ministry Associate Brandon Bales gave a report on what turned out to be an incredible summer for M3 and Youth Week camps. Bales said attendance at the camps totaled 4,582 students. Of those, 394 students made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, 240 were baptized, and 316 answered a call to ministry. Additionally, Bales reported the SBTC Student App has been downloaded more than 1,400 times since being launched in August 2022, with more than 133,000 engagements this year alone.
CP receipts down after giving slows in June, July
SBTC Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis reported to the board that Cooperative Program giving was significantly lower in June and July, resulting in a 5% year-to-date budget shortfall and a 5% reduction from the same time last year.
“We’re continuing to manage expenses and watch the budget closely as we steward Cooperative Program dollars,” Davis said after the meeting.
Board to ask messengers for extension on constitutional interpretation at AM
Messengers to the 2023 Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Annual Meeting in November will be asked to consider extending the effective date of a constitutional interpretation referring to the office of pastor for currently affiliated churches.
At the 2022 Annual Meeting in Corpus Christi, messengers approved a motion requiring the convention to interpret its constitutional requirement that the “office of pastor be limited to men” be applied “not only to the titles of senior pastor or lead pastor, but to any role designated by the noun ‘pastor’” beginning Jan. 1, 2024. At the Aug. 15 meeting, the Executive Board voted in favor of the Executive Committee’s recommendation to request the messengers at November’s Annual Meeting to consider extending the effective date to Jan. 1, 2025.*
The SBTC Credentials Committee is already operating under the new interpretation for churches being newly considered for affiliation.
In August, Baptist Press reported a similar request made by Southern Baptist Convention President Bart Barber, pastor of the SBTC-affiliated First Baptist Church of Farmersville. Barber asked state conventions and local associations to “press pause on any ongoing work they may be conducting or motions they may be considering that involve the nature of what it means to be a church in friendly cooperation with sister Southern Baptist churches.”
Such a pause, Barber said, would allow a newly seated “cooperation group” to engage in “high-quality research, dialogue, prayer, and contemplation about the nature of cooperation among Southern Baptist churches and our needs going forward.”
The 2023 SBTC Annual Meeting is scheduled for Nov. 13-14 at Cross City Church in Euless.
* Editor’s note: This article constitutes first notice of this motion.