ROSWELL, N.M. (ABP) — Signaling a theme that likely will surface in many of this fall's Baptist conventions, Baptists in New Mexico adopted resolutions Oct. 29 favoring government support of the traditional family, endorsing public affirmations of God, and denouncing legal protection for homosexuals.
The 91st meeting of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico drew 348 messengers from the convention's 310 churches, plus 167 guests.
The family resolution warned that “the American judiciary system seems poised to redefine this honored institution to accommodate a self-determined lifestyle not in accordance with the ancient biblical record and American tradition.” It added that “any interpretation of this basic institution other than the historical biblical one would undermine the moral, economic and physical well-being of the nation.”
The resolution pledged that New Mexico Baptists will “oppose any legislation or court decision that would undermine or change in any way these standards and will seek to support any legislation that would strengthen these values.”
Another resolution lamented that “recent and pending court decisions have threatened to remove the mention of God and his moral law from all aspects of American life.” It urged New Mexico legislators “to take whatever actions are necessary to guard the freedoms and values established by our forefathers.”
The homosexuality resolution urged New Mexico Baptists to “work to undo” state legislation that protects “overt sexual orientation on an equal basis with the categories of race, religion and cultural discrimination.”
In other business, the convention amended its bylaws to require churches that have never been represented at an annual meeting to be approved by a vote of the convention before their messengers can be seated. The change was prompted by a request from the Southeastern Baptist Association, which was concerned about a church in Hobbs that is supporting the convention “but has not demonstrated friendly cooperation with the purpose and work” of the convention, the association said.
Previously bylaws accepted churches that contributed a minimum of $250 a year through the convention and were considered “not [to] be in conflict with Scripture.”
Now a new church must apply 30 days before the convention meeting and present “evidence that the church is in friendly cooperation with the convention and sympathetic with the convention's work, and evidence of their faith and practices, which are not in conflict with the Holy Bible, the Old and New Testaments.”
Much of the focus of this year's annual meeting was on “Proclaim Together: Bangkok 2004,” an ambitious project to send 350 to 500 New Mexico Baptists to Bangkok, Thailand, next summer to participate in a variety of ministries in the city of 11.6 million people. The goals of the project include at least one person from each church making the July 16-30 trip, others providing funds so someone else can go, and every New Mexico Baptist supporting the effort with prayer.
“We have received a Macedonian call … to take the gospel to Bangkok,” said the convention's executive director, Claude Cone. He urged messengers to “get under the burden for Bangkok,” whether they go, give or pray.
More than 50 people came forward during the invitation extended at the end of the presentation to make commitments to participate in the mission trip to Bangkok.
Messengers also approved a 2004 budget that is the largest in the convention's history. It will require $3,565,764 in Cooperative Program receipts from the churches, an increase of 1.73 percent. About $1 million (30.5 percent) of that will be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention, which represents no percentage change.
Larry Haslam, interim pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmington, was re-elected president by acclamation. Philip Fike, pastor of First Baptist Church in Portales, was elected first vice president and Ira Shelton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Quemado, was elected second vice president.