During their 186th annual meeting Oct. 26-27, messengers of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) elected their first Black president and approved amendments to Southwest Baptist University’s governing documents.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 842 messengers and 172 visitors from 340 churches gathered at the St. Charles Convention Center. By contrast, the 2019 annual meeting in Branson included 1,277 messengers and 262 visitors from 499 churches.
Amid a standing ovation from messengers, Jon Nelson was elected president. He is an MBC church planter and pastor of SOMA Community Church, located near the campus of the historically Black Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Immediately following the election, Nelson tearfully expressed gratitude to MBC messengers for the opportunity to serve them.
For the past two years, Nelson has served as the MBC’s first vice president. He also serves as chairman for a racial reconciliation task force that was appointed at the MBC Executive Board meeting in March. He will preside over next year’s annual meeting, which will convene Oct. 25-26, 2021, at the Branson Convention Center.
Other new officers elected by MBC messengers include: First Vice President Chris Williams, pastor, Fellowship Church, Greenwood/Raymore; Second Vice President Lane Harrison, lead pastor, Life Point Church, Ozark; and Recording Secretary Jason Marlin, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Kirksville.
Messengers also approved amended articles of incorporation and received amended bylaws from Southwest Baptist University (SBU). These approved amendments, which include the affirmation of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as the university’s statement of faith, bring SBU’s governing documents into line with the MBC’s revised governing documents, which messengers approved during their annual meeting in 2017. This also completes the process begun in 2014 of updating the governing documents of the MBC and all of its entities.
2021 budget, offering goals approved
During their business session, messengers approved the MBC’s 2021 spending plan, which is based on a $15 million Cooperative Program (CP) budget. This budget sets aside 5% of the total CP giving for “shared expenses,” which are allocated for annuity protections and The Pathway.
From the remaining funds, 35% is allocated for Missouri Baptist missions and ministries. Additionally, according to the CP budget, 22% is allocated for Missouri Baptist entities, including the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, The Baptist Home, the Missouri Baptist Foundation, Southwest Baptist University, Hannibal-LaGrange University and Missouri Baptist University. Finally, 38% of these CP funds are forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention to support its ministries.
Missouri Baptists also approved four resolutions, which called for the abolition of abortion; rejected the “use of any and all products” derived from the fetal tissue of aborted babies; and, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, called upon elected officials to restore and protect the religious liberty rights of residents at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ben Hawkins is associate editor of The Pathway, mbcpathway.com, news journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)