SBTC meeting buoyed by evangelism
Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Baptist Press
November 02, 2009

SBTC meeting buoyed by evangelism

SBTC meeting buoyed by evangelism
Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Baptist Press
November 02, 2009


Texas — From start to finish, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) annual

meeting demonstrated the results of inviting people to faith in Christ.

The Oct. 26-27 sessions opened with the testimony of a teenager saved after a

friend invited him to an SBTC-sponsored student evangelism conference last

summer, and closed with 512 people, from youth to parents, professing faith in

Christ and 68 others rededicating their lives stemming from the gospel

preaching and feats of strength of the weightlifters group Team Impact.

Photo by Kyle Felts

A citywide crusade on the final night of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting prompted 512 professions of faith, including scores of young people and many of the parents who brought them.

Jerry Pierce, managing editor of the SBTC’s TEXAN, prays with a local man who

accepted Christ as his Savior, having brought his nephews to the youth-oriented


Lubbock-area pastors and churches joined with the SBTC’s evangelism department

to focus the convention meeting on a citywide crusade event on Oct. 27,

inviting Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt to speak in the

Lubbock Memorial Civic Center theater while Team Impact amazed some 2,400

teenagers and children in the exhibit hall.

Adults leaving the theater after hearing Hunt challenge Southern Baptists “to

get back on track in evangelism” began to spontaneously applaud as they grasped

the magnitude of hundreds of lives changed by the power of the Gospel in the

hall opposite theirs. New converts received Bibles and local churches will

contact them for further discipleship.

Meeting for the second time in West Texas since the formation of the state

convention in 1998, the headcount of 889 messengers and 423 registered guests

expanded to nearly 3,700 as local residents responded to the invitations from

area Southern Baptists.

In his address to the convention, SBTC President Bob Pearle told the audience, “By

standing firm and holding on to those distinctives that make Baptists who they

are, we will continue to reach this world and not go the way of every other

denomination.” The SBTC has grown from the 128 churches that formed the

convention in 1998 to a current total of 2,176.

West Texans were elected to every SBTC office, including the new president,

Byron McWilliams, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Odessa. Pat

Anderson, a member of Keeler Baptist Church in Borger, was elected recording

secretary by a vote of 132-108 over Becky Illingworth, a member of Community

Baptist Church in Royse City. Kevin Ueckert, pastor of South Side Baptist

Church in Abilene, was re-elected SBTC vice president.

Messengers approved a 1.18 percent increase for next year’s $24.8 million

budget to be funded through the Cooperative Program contributions of local


“God’s people have continued to give through the Cooperative Program so we can

reach Texas and touch the world,” said Dale Perry, SBTC executive board

chairman and pastor of Friendly Baptist Church in Tyler.

The unity SBTC churches find in “gospel ministry and voluntary cooperation” was

underscored in a resolution affirming the Cooperative Program “as our

unrestricted vehicle for funding missions.”

However, the convention stopped short of describing the Cooperative Program as “the

distinctive that binds Southern Baptist churches,” language offered in an

amendment by messenger James Salles, pastor of West End Baptist Church in

Beaumont, but defeated on a 146-118 ballot vote. In an additional amendment,

Salles contended that SBC leaders who had minimized their CP participation undermine

the cooperation between churches of all sizes and financial ability, but only a

dozen or so messengers favored adding that sentiment to the resolution.

The adopted resolution stated that the SBTC, since its inception, “has

demonstrated a sacrificial commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission

through commitment to the Cooperative Program.” The SBTC continues to forward

to the SBC more of the undesignated receipts from local churches than it keeps

for in-state ministry, advancing 55 percent to support SBC missions and

ministry around the world and across the nation.

“In spite of the economic downturn, God has blessed and we have an abundance of

resources for new church plants,” stated Joe Davis, the SBTC’s chief financial

officer, who reported a new record of $1,146,497 for the Reach Texas State

Mission Offering.

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards, in his report to the convention,

described the missional methodology of Jesus as decisional, intentional and

even confrontational. While contextualization is sometimes necessary, Richards

reminded, “We should not lose our distinctives in Christ and begin to worship

at the altar of relevance.”

In an apparent reference to the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force on which

he serves, Richards said that whether structural changes occur in the SBC or

not, “We must have a fresh movement of the Spirit of God in our personal lives

and in our churches” before a Great Commission resurgence can occur.

When considering a resolution on the sufficiency of Scripture that affirmed “nothing

as sin unless it is forbidden explicitly or implicitly” in the Bible, messengers

agreed to the recommendation of Houston messenger Paul Pressler, clarifying

that “the consumption of alcoholic beverages is intrinsically wrong.”

“I would like it understood that this committee’s recommendation will allow

nobody to take this resolution and say this convention has in any way approved

the consumption of alcoholic beverages,” Pressler stated.

While one messenger from Granbury spoke against the amendment, preferring “where

Scripture speaks clearly, we’ll speak clearly,” all but a handful of messengers

agreed to the change and the resolution passed as amended.

Other resolutions encouraged a gospel-centered ministry, discipleship in every

area of Christian life, prayer for the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force

appointed by Hunt at last year’s annual SBC annual meeting, and appreciation

for the leadership and church of outgoing SBTC President Bob Pearle, pastor of

Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

The H. Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award was presented to Lamar Cooper,

interim president of Criswell College, recognizing his long tenure with the

Dallas-based school as provost and professor of Old Testament and Hebrew. In

presenting the award, Pressler noted Cooper’s prior service to Southern

Baptists as director of denominational relations at the Ethics & Religious

Liberty Commission, vice president for academic affairs at Midwestern Baptist

Theological Seminary and addressing the culture on moral issues.

A motion seeking the SBTC’s assistance for churches regarding changes to articles

of incorporation was referred for consideration by the executive board. The

effect on churches by the new Texas business organizational code is described

on the SBTC website at sbtexas.com.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 16-18 at the Corpus Christi Convention


(EDITOR’S NOTE — Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN,

newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)