MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Texas Baptists must multiply their efforts to minister to “those the Bible singles out for special attention—widows, orphans and strangers,” Rick McClatchey challenged members of the Texas Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
The Texas CBF chapter met during the national Cooperative Baptist Fellowship general assembly in Memphis, Tenn., June 19. The Texans chose new state leadership, adopted a 2008-09 budget and heard a call to action from McClatchey, coordinator of the Texas group.
Test of obedience
“The church does not exist to satisfy the demands of spiritual consumers … but to advance the kingdom of God in this world,” McClatchey stressed. “And the test of our obedience is this: How we treat others.”
Since Bible times, widows, orphans and strangers have been oppressed and in need of aid and comfort, he noted.
“Either because of poverty or lack of integration into the community, they were and are easy targets” for oppression, he observed, noting Christians’ unique responsibility to protect and uplift them. “As kingdom people, we are to care for the poor and the powerless in this world.”
Lift people out of poverty
About one-quarter of the world’s population live in abject poverty, McClatchey reported, noting their most desperate need is for capital to lift them out of poverty.
He called on Texas churches to underwrite micro-enterprise loans that can make a permanent difference in the lives of the world’s poorest citizens. These loans—which range from $25 to $250 and are payable over six months—provide the funding for families to begin small businesses that enable them to increase their earnings and sustain themselves.
“Every church in Texas ought to make capital available for micro-enterprise loans,” he insisted, noting this would impact a Millennial Development Goal to cut the number of people living in poverty in half by 2015.
Doing the math, McClatchey calculated that if a church invested $10,000 in micro-enterprise loans, providing $250 to families of four, it would aid 320 people in one year. And if a church did that for seven years leading up to 2015, that church would help lift 2,240 people out of poverty. Also, the church would receive a return of 5 percent to 7 percent on its investment.
If 200 Texas churches participated, they would change the lives of 448,000 people through $250 investments or almost 4.5 million people through $ 25 investments.
“I don’t want to say it’s a sin if you don’t do this, but it might be very close,” he said.
McClatchey also called on Texas Baptists to minister to the “strangers” in their midst—international students, evacuees who become refugees, and immigrants.
Taking care of business
Texas CBF members elected Tony Gruben, pastor of Baptist Temple Church in Uvalde, as moderator-elect, and Ken Hugghins, pastor of Elkins Lake Baptist Church in Huntsville, as recorder.
Alcides Guajardo, a retired pastor and denominational worker from Mineral, was the presiding moderator, and Jorene Swift, a staff member of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, became moderator for 2008-09 at the end of the meeting.
Participants also elected other leaders.
New members of the Texas CBF coordinating council are Charlie Brown of Mesquite; Kelly Burkhart, Houston; Van Christian, Comanche; Lucy Floyd, Weatherford; James Hassell, Tulia; Brook Holloway, Marshall; JoAnn Hopper, San Antonio; Tommy Hood, Weatherford; Richard Ivy, Early; Angela Key, Nacogdoches; Liz Lively, Salado; and Robert Morales, Beeville.
New Texas members of the national CBF coordinating council are Johnnie Mesquiz of Houston and James Fuller of Beaumont.
Rodney McGlothlin of College Station was elected to the national CBF nominating committee.
The Texas CBF budget for the new fiscal year is $188,396, an increase of about $3,500 over the current budget.