ORLANDO, Fla. — Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando, Fla., approved a pared down budget for 2010-2011 and honored two agency presidents who retire this year.
They approved a $199,822,090 Cooperative Program allocation budget recommended by the SBC Executive Committee — down 1.21 percent from the previous year’s budget — with 50 percent directed to the International Mission Board and 22.79 percent to the North American Mission Board.
It earmarks $44,280,576, or 22.16 percent, for the SBC’s six seminaries and its historical archives, while setting aside $3,397,064, or 1.65 percent, for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Messengers also adopted an SBC Operating Budget of $8,643,951, a decrease of approximately 5.5 percent from last year’s budget. The operating budget includes the SBC Executive Committee, the SBC annual meeting and committees, special programs such as Empowering Kingdom Growth, building maintenance and administration.
Frank Page, who was elected as president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee during its June 14 meeting in Orlando, Fla., was introduced to convention messengers during the committee’s report to the convention.
In presenting Page, Executive Committee Chairman Randall James of Orlando said, “We didn’t want to pick who we wanted, but who the Lord Jesus Christ had already chosen before the foundation of the world.”
Page, a former South Carolina pastor who currently serves as vice president of evangelization at the North American Mission Board, succeeds Morris Chapman, who is retiring after 18 years of service. He will assume his new duties Oct. 1.
Messengers adopted resolutions of appreciation for Morris Chapman, who will retire Sept. 30 as president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee, and for Jerry Rankin, who retires July 31 as president of International Mission Board.
Praising his contributions to Southern Baptist life as “enduring, extensive and extraordinary” in helping to change and shape the course of Southern Baptist life, the resolution for Chapman noted that he “has distinguished himself as a consummate statesman.”
Under Chapman’s leadership, the Executive Committee and the SBC adopted the Covenant for a New Century, calling for a restructuring of the SBC’s entities, reducing them from 19 to 12 and redirecting significant funds into “frontline ministry.” The Executive Committee also approved establishment of the Council on Family Life, and the SBC adopted “Empowering Kingdom Growth,” a vision calling churches and member to pursue the Kingdom of God.
Prior to his appointment, Chapman served as pastor of four churches over a span of 25 years — three in Texas and one in New Mexico. A former SBC president, he also has held various appointed and elected positions in three Baptist state conventions.
In expressing the gratitude of Southern Baptists, a resolution honoring Rankin pointed not only to his 17-year tenure as IMB president, but also to his 23 years of service with the former Foreign Mission Board, starting with his appointment as a missionary in 1970.
“Under his leadership,” the resolution stated, “the International Mission Board saw an increase in its missionary force from 4,000 missionaries in 142 countries in 1993, to more than 5,500 missionaries working with 1,190 people groups.”
IMB missionaries and their national Baptist partners have seen church starts increase from 2,000 to about 27,000 and baptisms increase from more than 260,000 to more 565,000 during his tenure, the resolution noted.
“As you leave this position,” Chapman told Rankin, “we know that your passion for missions will continue through the lives of thousands of individuals you have touched as both a personal evangelist of the gospel of our Lord Jesus and as a leader of God’s people on mission to the farthest reaches of our world.”
Joined on stage by his wife, Bobbye, Rankin remarked: “We would have never dreamed many years ago when we responded in obedience to God’s call to missionary service that he would call us and entrust us with this level of leadership responsibility. As we look back on these 17 years, it is evident that God simply allowed us to be in this position when he chose to work in our world and among Southern Baptists in unprecedented ways.
“How grateful we are that we have been able to serve you and facilitate your involvement, your partnership and your obedience to our Great Commission task,” he said.
Other SBC action
In other business, Darrell Orman, chairman of the Executive Committee’s communications subcommittee and a pastor from Stuart, Fla., requested an extension of one year for a study of greater SBC involvement for ethnic churches and leaders in order to provide “a fuller, more meaningful report.”
“We desire to research and give as much thought to this report as we possibly can, believing that this could be a great part of us fulfilling the Great Commission, especially here in our own country,” Orman explained to Executive Committee members. The study will develop guide points to help the SBC “throw a blanket of love over this nation” and involve more ethnic people in the SBC’s ministries and leadership, he said.
In the past decade, the number of ethnic congregations have grown in the SBC by more than five percent — from 13.5 percent in 1998 to 18.7 percent in 2008 — with the largest representations being African-Americans, with 3,277 congregations; Hispanics, with 3,182; and Asians, with 1,652.
A resolution approved as recently as the 2008 SBC Annual Meeting in Indianapolis encouraged all SBC entities to strive to reflect a balanced representation of ethnic diversity on boards, committees and programs.
Convention messengers also:
• Changed their 2013 meeting site from Nashville, Tenn., to Houston.
• Approved holding their 2015 meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
• Revised the ministry statement of the Southern Baptist Foundation, broadening its scope to serving all Baptist bodies and entities.
M.E. Dodd award
The M.E. Dodd Cooperative Program Award was presented to First Baptist Church of Sparkman, Ark., a 103-member congregation that averages 60 to 75 in Sunday worship, but has contributed an average of 32.8 percent in CP giving over the past 30 years, with a high of 43.4 percent.
The award is presented annually to the person, congregation or organization which has demonstrated continuous long-term excellence in supporting the principles, practice and spirit of the Cooperative Program, Chapman noted.
In 1936, the Sparkman congregation increased its CP giving to 10 percent of undesignated receipts, and by the 1960s had increased that amount to 30 percent, where it remains today.
“Since the start of the Cooperative Program, the church has given sacrificially because of a deep desire to tell the good news of Jesus Christ all over the world,” Chapman said. “Each time they give, they feel they are serving alongside their state missionaries, college ministers, North American Mission Board missionaries and International Mission Board missionaries.”
In accepting the award for the church, Pastor Eric Moffett said: “We give at Sparkman because we believe we can do more together as Southern Baptists than we can do apart. We believe that even though we are a small church from a tiny community, with every dollar that we give we are able to partner with missionaries, denominational servants, all over the world. To us, that’s a joy and an investment. Our church would have it no other way.”
During the Executive Committee meeting, Roger Spradlin, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersville, Calif., who served as vice chairman this past year, was elected chairman for 2010-2011. Spradlin received 40 votes of 71 cast, while Doug Melton of Oklahoma City, Okla., garnered 31.
Earnest Easley, pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., was elected vice chairman on a second ballot after tying with Jack Shaw, a layman from Greenville, S.C., on the first; and Joe Wright, director of missions for Dyer Baptist Association in Tennessee, was chosen as secretary, defeating Carol Yarber of Athens, Texas.