SILVER SPRING, Md. – The 177th annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) included participation by several ethnic churches as well as the largest number of language church members ever present at the convention’s annual gatherings.
With the theme “We Can’t Stop,” based on the account of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4, the meeting at Global Mission Church in Silver Spring, Md., drew 260 messengers and 96 guests.
During worship, groups from Burmese, Chinese, Haitian, Kenyan, Korean and Nepalese churches shared hymns and praise music in their native languages, and an international dinner featured American, Chinese, Haitian, Hispanic, Korean and Nepalese foods.
Robert Kim, a BCM/D Asian church planting missionary, told messengers the convention hosts two language ministry events each year – a Palm Sunday music festival and a concert of prayer in the fall.
Also during the Nov. 11-12 meeting, the convention’s executive director, David Lee, announced he will retire July 31. Lee said God changed his life at age 15 and it made “all the difference in the world.”
“My life in ministry has not always been easy, but I can stand here and tell you God has always been faithful,” Lee said.
“It has been such a privilege to serve you and to serve with you. When I came here, I was given specific tasks by God. I’m convinced that that assignment has been completed,” Lee said.
During his address, Lee referred to the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and warned that the church may be moving toward a world similar to the first century when Christians could face lions’ dens or fiery furnaces.
“I am concerned that we may not be far from living in a strange land that we will no longer recognize,” Lee said. “We may be about to experience ‘Daniel World,’ an exile of sorts, where our freedoms will be limited. Following Christ will have a price tag.
“It’s so critical that you and I join hands and hearts together, and we’re going to need leaders to step up and keep it together because what is in front of us is going to require the very best in all of us,” Lee said.
Dennis Kim, pastor of Global Mission Church, speaking on the theme “We Can’t Stop Praying,” told messengers, “All the days I’ve been here in America, I praise the Lord for you.”
“Korean Christians learned to pray from Western missionaries,” Kim said. At Global Mission Church, prayer is a priority, he said, noting that prayer warriors are praying at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, resulting in God’s blessing on the church which now has eight services.
Chuck Lawless, dean of graduate studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke on the theme “We Can’t Stop Pursuing,” using John the Baptist’s statement in Mark 1:7.
“When’s the last time you were so amazed by Jesus that you stopped wherever you are in your spiritual journey?” Lawless asked. “I don’t care how long you’ve served the church. You just had to stop and say, ‘Who is this?’ See, when we don’t have those moments, we lose our wonder.
“It’s one of the reasons God puts us in the boat that’s going into the storm. It’s in the storm we find out just how mighty the Son of God is,” Lawless said.
Messengers elected Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., president and re-elected Ron Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church in Havre de Grace, as first vice president and Andrew Bell, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Essex, as second vice president.
There were no nominations for recording secretary or assistant recording secretary, so Anderson will appoint officers to fill those vacancies.
Messengers approved a $6,102,609 BCM/D budget, a 0.2 percent increase from 2012, and a $1,877,300 Skycroft Conference Center budget, which was a 1.3 percent increase from 2012. For 2013, the budgeted Cooperative Programs receipts are expected to total $4,250,000. BCM/D allocated 43.5 percent to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) missions and ministries, which includes a 0.5 percent-of-budget increase approved by messengers. The remainder, or 56.5 percent, will stay in the BCM/D. The budget does not designate any shared expenses with SBC.
John Schoff, representing the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware, delivered to the convention a check for $137,882 for the starting and strengthening of churches. The funds were derived from interest on loans provided to churches.
Harold Phillips, pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Port Deposit, Md., introduced a statement to reaffirm the BCM/D’s 2011 resolution defending traditional marriage, which messengers approved.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 10-12 at Ogletown Baptist Church in Newark, Del.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Based on reporting by Sharon Mager, a correspondent for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.)