SBTC messengers pack Criswell College for worship, fellowship and business
November 17th, 2017 / By: Tammi Reed Ledbetter | Special Assignments Editor / comments
Dallas Gathering Nov. 13-14 around the Ephesians 4-inspired theme of “Belong,” the messenger count for the Annual Meeting was the largest for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention since 2008. Officers set out to design an environment of encouragement for pastors and it couldn’t have come at a better time than in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the most deadly church shooting in American history a week prior in Sutherland Springs.
A series of eight sermons preached sequentially through Ephesians 4 and part of chapter five featured Juan Sanchez of Austin, Nathan Lino of Humble, Andrew Hebert of Amarillo, J. R. Vassar of Grapevine, SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards of Keller, Criswell College President Barry Creamer of Dallas and Josh Smith of Irving.
SBTC officers crafted breakout sessions that gathered pastors and laypeople in small groups based on their location in Texas and the size of their churches. Before leaving each discussion, participants exchanged contact information with at least one other person in order to develop a supportive relationship for future ministry.
“We wanted our pastors to go home invigorated and re-inspired, believing that the Holy Spirit is for them and with them,” said Lino, who served as SBTC president the past two years.
Messengers and guests packed Ruth Chapel for worship led by musicians from Northeast Houston Baptist Church in Humble and Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano and a series of expositional sermons from Ephesians. They also handled the business of electing new officers and approved a budget, committee recommendations, nine resolutions and a few other matters.
Couples offered scripture readings and prayer during each of the sessions, including Shanon and Sophia Thomas of Rockwall Friendship Baptist Church in Royse City, Pete and Niha Raiborde from The Lighthouse Church International Ministries in Coppell, Donald and Lisa Tittle from First Baptist Church of Flower Mound and Ryan and Heather Fontenot from The Mount in Keller.
In addition to worship through music, the reading of Scripture and expository preaching, messengers and guests took part in auxiliary meetings, alumni gatherings and after-hours fellowships. They also heard reports from the ministries churches support all year through their gifts to the Cooperative Program, the funding mechanism Southern Baptist churches use to accomplish missions and ministries in the state and around the world.
The Tuesday afternoon session compresses the business that is indispensable to the work of the convention as messengers set the future course for their cooperative ministries.
Resolutions addressed prayer for Sutherland Springs, gender identity, sexual harassment, the ministerial housing allowance, adoption tax credit, the centrality of Scripture, and Hurricane Harvey, while also expressing appreciation for Lino’s leadership and the hospitality and generosity of Criswell College and others whom God used “to bring about a meeting characterized by evangelism, worship and true Christian fellowship.” (Turn to page 10 for more information on resolutions.)
Messengers approved a 2018 budget of $28,880,178, a 2.56 percent increase from the current year. This budget is funded by $28,528,178 in Cooperative Program gifts and $352,000 from partnerships with the North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources.
The convention continues to send 55 percent of its budget for SBC Cooperative Program ministries—the highest percentage of any Baptist state convention—while designating 45 percent for Cooperative Program ministries in Texas.
Tellers accounted for 1,040 messengers and 225 guests with several hundred more in attendance who did not register.
Forty-three Southern Baptists from small, medium and large churches were approved as new members of the Executive Board, committees addressing missions, evangelism, church ministries, ethics and religious liberty, pastor/church relations, credentials and order of business, or on boards of Criswell College, Jacksonville College, Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation and Texas Baptist Home for Children. In total, 150 pastors and laypeople from affiliated churches serve throughout the year on SBTC committees and related boards, and another 39 serve on committees that function during the annual meeting.
The 2018 SBTC Annual Meeting celebrates the 20th anniversary of the founding of SBTC by returning to Houston Nov. 12-13 to meet at Second Baptist Church North. Messengers at this year’s meeting approved Jordan Rogers, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Nederland to deliver the convention sermon, with Jacob Fitzgerald, pastor of Denman Avenue Baptist Church in Lufkin, as the alternate.