ORLANDO – Jacksonville pastor Tim Maynard was elected president of the Florida Baptist State Convention (FBSC) during its Nov. 12-13 annual meeting at First Baptist Church in Orlando.
Messengers approved a 2013 Cooperative Program (CP) budget of $31.6 million, an amount identical to the 2012 budget. The budget, based on gifts from Florida Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program from June 1, 2011, to May 31, 2012, will increase giving to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) by 1 percentage point to 41.5 percent.
The increase in the SBC portion sustains a commitment by Florida Baptists to raise the percentage allocated nationally to an even 50/50 percent division of funds between the SBC and state.
“We are on track to be 50/50 in the next seven years,” John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, told messengers.
The $31.6 million will be divided between the SBC, 41.5 percent; Florida Baptist Convention operating budget, 46.60 percent; and Florida Baptist entities, 11.81 percent.
Affected by the economic downturn and decreased giving from the churches, since 2005, the convention has pared $10 million from its budget and downsized its staff by 58 employees, or 25 percent of its workforce.
In the presidential election, 640 votes among a reported 896 messengers registered Tuesday morning were cast. Maynard, pastor of Fruit Cove Baptist Church, received 374 or 59 percent of the vote, with Clayton Cloer, pastor of First Baptist Church of Central Florida in Orlando, receiving 264 votes or 41 percent.
Maynard, 58, who also served three years as president of Florida’s State Board of Missions, the convention’s governing body, was nominated by Marvin Pittman, a layman from First Baptist Church in Bartow.
Just hours after the election, Maynard told the Florida Baptist Witness he was already feeling the “weight” of how to bring Florida Baptists together to “refocus on what’s truly important.”
“I really have a heartbeat for seeing genuine unity happen in this convention,” Maynard said. “One of the things that really, really matters to Jesus is unity. If we can’t stand as a unified people, I don’t know that we have much to share with the state. I think it’s going to require a true heart change, genuine repentance in the hearts of the people.”
In nominating Maynard, Pittman had noted his leadership in the state and in his church, and cited Fruit Cove’s commitment to missions and the Cooperative Program, which funds the mission enterprise of the Florida and Southern Baptist conventions. The church gives at least 10 percent through the Cooperative Program annually; $80,000 to $100,000 to the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions; and $45,000 to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for Missions.
“Tim’s leadership style is to cast a vision and to invite others to join him,” Pittman told messengers. “His cooperative and humble spirit [and] his personal commitment to the task encourages those around him to come together to reach the common goal.”
William Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, in nominating Cloer, praised him for his leadership, and said the former Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference president had spearheaded “the fight to amend our state constitution to preserve the sanctity of biblical marriage and he led the revision task force calling our churches to repentance and renewal.”
Elected to serve with Maynard was layperson Jack Roland of Ocala First Baptist Church, first vice president; Chris Coram, associate pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church, second vice president; and Randy Huckabee, pastor of First Baptist Church of Okeechobee, recording secretary. Roland topped Kevin Goza, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Apopka. The other two officers ran unopposed.
At the conclusion of the meeting, 936 messengers had registered, with 148 visitors, for a total of 1,084 in attendance. The last time the convention met in Orlando in 1999, 1,556 messengers registered.
The theme of the meeting, “What Really Matters,” focused on family, faith, relationships and legacy. David Uth, pastor of the host church, presided over the convention, serving his second one-year term.
Jeff Singletary, pastor of Exciting Central Tampa Baptist Church, a multi-cultural congregation in the heart of Tampa, delivered the annual convention sermon. He urged Florida Baptists to contend for the gospel in the midst of the “seismic shift” of morality in America as demonstrated by the recent Election Day results.
“I have come this morning, brothers and sisters, to call you and to challenge you to contend for the faith as you’ve never done before,” Singletary said, preaching from Jude 3.
“If we don’t get up, stand up, look up, speak up, America will go the way of the church in England. Yes, history will merely repeat itself in America and God will write ‘ichabod’ on the American church – ‘The glory of the Lord has departed,’“ Singletary said.
Singletary is the second African-American in the history of the FBSC to preach the annual sermon. There are 240 African American congregations affiliated with the FBSC.
Other convention speakers included retired Marine 1st Lt. Clebe McClary, a decorated Vietnam veteran who shared his courage and survival on the battlefield, and Cindy Winters of Maryville, Ill., widow of slain pastor Fred Winters. Marriage enrichment counselor Emerson Eggerichs led a time for couples to recommit their respect and love to each other.
Sullivan reported to messengers that the state is “on target” with six Great Commission Resurgence recommendations approved by messengers at the 2010 Convention meeting.
“Every recommendation has been implemented or is in the process of being implemented,” Sullivan said.
Among the implemented recommendations was a spiritual renewal emphasis, “ReVision Florida”; a move toward the 50/50 percent distribution of Cooperative Program funds; and development of evangelistic pastoral leaders through increased availability of theological education.
An emphasis on church planting regionalization produced 117 new church starts in 2012, Sullivan announced. “The best calculation that we can make about planting churches is that about 20 percent of every dollar that comes through the Florida Baptist Convention goes to church planting. We are on target in planting churches in the state of Florida,” he said.
“The best partner we have in the state of Florida is the North America Mission Board (NAMB). I commend Dr. Ezell for cooperating and listening … . I am thankful to God for the NAMB and for their help in planting churches,” Sullivan quipped.
Also implemented was a reorganization and regionalization of staff along convention priorities.
Sullivan credited the convention staff for the “excellent and efficient progress” made in accomplishing the goals. “Our staff has been exceptional in making adjustments and assuming additional responsibilities and maintaining relationships throughout the state.”
In presenting the State Board of Missions report, Maynard told messengers, “Let me tell you something about Florida Baptists. I have been behind the scenes for eight years and I am more excited to be a Florida Baptist than I have ever been. I have seen what happens behind the curtain. I am so impressed with who we are.
“This convention follows Jesus Christ, nobody else,” Maynard continued. “This convention sets the paradigm. This convention sets the pattern that will be followed. I believe the way that we get to 50/50 will be the way other conventions will follow.
“There are no greater missions organizations in the world than the ones we support with Cooperative Program dollars,” Maynard said.
There were no questions or dissenting votes during convention business reports and no miscellaneous business or recommendations offered by messngers.
Next year’s meeting is scheduled for Nov. 11-12 in Jacksonville at North Jacksonville Baptist Church.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention. James A. Smith Sr., executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, and Joni B. Hannigan, managing editor, contributed to this article.)