DALLAS—The Baptist General Convention of Texas approved a committee to study the convention’s annual meeting, endorsed a one-day evangelistic emphasis and authorized the Valley Baptist Missions Education Center to add a residence hall to expand involvement in a program that relocates young refugees from Latin America.
Review of annual meeting
At its Feb. 25 meeting, the board authorized its officers and the convention’s officers to appoint a study committee to review, evaluate and revise the annual meeting study committee report commissioned in 2009. Messengers to the 2010 annual meeting in McAllen received the original report and adopted its recommendations.
That report resulted in the Texas Baptist Gathering last summer, when the BGCT, the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, the African-American Fellowship of Texas and other ethnic and affinity groups met together.
The report presented in 2010 also called on annual meetings to focus on five rotating themes—evangelism/missions, education/discipleship, advocacy/care, Baptist identity and Baptist community.
Key goals of that report included doubling the number of churches participating in an annual meeting by 2013 and involving every Texas Baptist church in an annual meeting at least once every five years.
The new study committee will report back to the Executive Board for adoption of any changes to the report about the annual meeting.
The board approved a joint recommendation from its evangelism committee and the Baptist Student Ministries committee to expand involvement in a collegiate personal evangelism campaign by challenging every Texas Baptist to make Oct. 14, 2014, a day to share the gospel with at least one person.
The Engage24 campaign began two years ago as a national Baptist Collegiate Network initiative. Organizers challenged students on a designated day to share their faith on campus with at least one other student.
At the recommendation of the two committees, the board not only endorsed the national collegiate emphasis, but also agreed to urge churches to involve their members in sharing their faith on the same day students will be involved in personal evangelism.
New building for Valley Baptist Missions Education Center
The Executive Board also authorized the Valley Baptist Missions Education Center to build a residence hall at a cost not to exceed $1.3 million and to approve financing of the project by a Harlingen-area bank. The center’s articles of incorporation require BGCT Executive Board approval for any project exceeding $250,000.
Through a program involving Baptist Child & Family Services and the governmental Office of Refugee Resettlement, the center houses more than 280 boys on campus.
The boys, primarily from Central America, enter the United States as unaccompanied minors. During their time at the center—typically 60 to 120 days, after which they are united with family members in the States or placed in foster care—the boys receive health care, education and vocational training. They are assigned individual caseworkers, and they all are invited to attend worship services.
The center has the opportunity to expand that ministry to include an additional 120 youth through a partnership with Lutheran Family Social, Health & Human Services, but that requires construction of an additional residence hall.
Proposal to buy Baptist Building
David Hardage, executive director of the BGCT Executive Board, reported he received a “multifaceted” proposal from Baylor University regarding possible purchase of the Baptist Building, located near the Baylor Health Care System campus and the Baylor School of Nursing in east Dallas.
An ad hoc committee, composed of Executive Board members and other Texas Baptists with specific legal, financial and real estate skills, will meet to evaluate the proposal, he added. That committee is expected to report to the Executive Board at its May meeting.
Budget and special missions giving
In her report to the board, BGCT Treasurer Jill Larsen noted Texas Baptist churches gave $32.1 million through the BGCT Cooperative Program in 2013—94.8 percent of budget.
Overall giving to special missions offerings last year increased over the previous year—$19.25 million in 2013, compared to $19.07 million in 2012.
Ernest Dagohoy, executive pastor of First Philippine Baptist Church in Missouri City and vice chair of the Executive Board, expressed appreciation for Texas Baptists’ disaster response after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines.
Texas Baptists have committed to rebuild at least 15 homes for Filipino pastors at a cost of about $5,000 each. When Dagohoy brought his report, the BGCT had received funds or pledges for seven homes. By the time the board meeting ended, directors and guests pledged to provide funds for the remaining eight homes.
Filling board vacancies
In other business, the Executive Board filled several vacancies on boards and committees—Chris Lantrip, First Baptist Church in Sunnyvale, Committee on Nominations for Boards of Affiliated Ministries; Isabel Dickey, First Baptist Church in Clint, and Patsy Cochran, First Baptist Church in Gonzales, Executive Board; and Joseph Fields, New Beginnings Baptist Church in Lewisville, at-large member of the Missions Funding Group.
—With additional reporting by Editor Marv Knox