STATE MEETINGS: Arizona, Tennessee, BGAV

Arizona Convention changes name, increases national CP giving

By Elizabeth Young/AZSBC

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. (BP) – Arizona Southern Baptists voted to change the name of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention and to increase their Cooperative Program giving to Southern Baptist Convention causes during their 93rd annual meeting.

“Restore” was the theme of the meeting held at Calvary Baptist Church in Lake Havasu City Nov. 12. It was attended by 173 messengers and 41 registered guests.

Last year, messengers adopted a recommendation from the AZSBC Convention Council to vote at the 2021 annual meeting on changing the convention’s name to “Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists.” This allowed time for prayer and discussion.

After some discussion, a substitute motion was passed that changed the convention’s name to “Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network.” The new name is a “doing business as” name change and will not change the constitution or corporate filings.

Before the vote, AZSBC Executive Director David Johnson talked about the rationale for the name change in his Centennial Vision report.

“We want a name that reflects who we are and what we do,” he said. “We are churches in Arizona. We have gathered together to be on mission, because God’s given us a mission to accomplish. And we’re a network of churches.

“A lot of times, ‘convention’ really doesn’t resonate with people. It seems to reflect a structure that really doesn’t identify us. But as a network of churches, we want to be able to help each other, working together in this mission.”

During the single afternoon worship and business session, messengers adopted a $4,286,768.03 operating budget for 2022. The operating budget includes $3,644,213 in anticipated Cooperative Program giving from churches, an increase of $183,013 from 2021.

The Cooperative Program budget allocates $1,421,342 or 39 percent – an increase of 2.5 percentage points – to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions and ministries.

The percentage increase represents another step in reaching Arizona Southern Baptists’ Centennial Vision goal of giving 50 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to missions outside the state through the SBC by 2028. It’s the eighth consecutive year for an increase, resulting in a total rise of 13 percentage points.

Elected to second one-year terms were President Jack Marslender, senior pastor of Avondale Baptist Church in Avondale, and First Vice President Ramon Rodriguez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Phoenix. Shawn Buckhanan, pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Sierra Vista, was elected second vice president.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 11 at Avondale Baptist Church in Avondale.

Additional stories about the AZSBC annual meeting are available at azsbc.org/portraits/.


Messengers approve new task force, elect officers

By Lonnie Wilkey/Baptist and Reflector

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (BP) – Tennessee Baptist Convention messengers overwhelmingly approved a recommendation from directors of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board to establish a sexual abuse task force, elected new officers and approved changes to the convention’s constitution and bylaws.

Messengers also adopted a budget, approved several resolutions, heard reports and acted on other matters of business, including a new partnership initiative with the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention, during the TBC annual meeting Nov. 14-17 at Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn.

The annual meeting, based on the theme “Forward Together With One Heart,” drew 939 messengers and 172 registered guests from 503 churches, for a total of 1,011 participants. Attendance was comparable to earlier in-person meetings. Last year’s meeting was online only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TBMB recommendation regarding a sexual abuse task force came at the request of TBC President Bruce Chesser. He told the board on Nov. 15 that that with the conditions in society and in the larger Southern Baptist Convention family, convention leadership “felt best that we need to get ahead of it.”

He reiterated that position to messengers, noting that the recommendation “is not an investigation. We want to be open, honest and transparent. This is something we have been doing for 20 years. It is a continuing, ongoing need,” Chesser said,

The recommendation also calls for the task force to compile a report, including suggestions for improvements, for presentation to cooperating Tennessee Baptist churches no later than the 2022 annual meeting of the TBC in Cordova.

New officers elected by messengers are President Clay Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lexington, Tenn.; Vice President Travis Henderson, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church, Mohawk; and Second Vice President Scott Brown, pastor of First Baptist Church, Waverly.

Messengers overwhelmingly adopted a $35 million Cooperative Program Allocation Budget for 2021-22, unchanged from last year. Hallmark, who also was chair of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board’s Budget and Ministry Committee, noted that the budget allocation to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministry also will remain the same as last year at 47.50 percent.

“The budget represents more than dollars,” Hallmark told messengers. “It represents taking the gospel to the state and the world so more people will go to heaven and less people will go to hell, especially from the state of Tennessee.”

Messenger John Green of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church, Knoxville, questioned if the board considered increasing the SBC’s portion this year. Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB, reminded messengers that in 2019 the decision was made to increase the SBC portion to a 50-50 distribution as giving increased. “As CP giving grows, we will move further to the 50-50 level,” Davis said.

Messengers adopted a recommendation from the TBMB to enter into partnership with the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2025, with a year of planning and preparation in 2022.

Davis noted that the partnership will provide an opportunity for Tennessee Baptists to impact lostness in nation and around world. The convention includes not only Hawaii but countries including Japan, Korea and Thailand.

Next year’s meeting will be Nov. 15-16, 2022, at Bellvue Baptist Church in Cordova.

Read the full story here.

Additional reporting from the Baptist and Reflector can be found here, here and here.


BGAV celebrates ‘Walking in the Light,’ learns of Upton retirement

By BGAV Staff

HENRICO, Va. (BP) – The Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) held its 198th Annual Meeting in a virtual-only format Nov. 9-10, 2021, with live-streamed worship, breakout sessions, and a business session focused on the theme “Mountain of Healing” and Scripture from Isaiah 2:1-5. An estimated 550 messengers and guests participated in one or more of the online sessions.

Featured music included an original theme song, “Walking in the Light,” by Kate Campbell. Adam Tyler presided over the main gatherings and the business session. Howard-John Wesley, Pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Falls Church, Va., delivered a powerful sermon on Tuesday evening titled, “Stop Staring.”

Messengers voted online to pass the 2022 budget, with Cooperative Missions allocations of $8,645,000, a 5 percent decrease from last year.

Ron Gravatt, member of Buena Vista Baptist Church in Buena Vista, Va, and current first vice president, was nominated and elected to serve next year as president. Herbert Ponder, pastor of Mt. Tabor Baptist Church in Richmond, was elected first Vice President. Additionally, messengers elected Ellen Gwathmey, member of Bruington Baptist Church, as second vice president and Nathan Taylor, member of River Road Church, as clerk.

Becky McKinney was approved as chair of the executive board. Mike Bradley, Shirley Cobb, Lora Gravatt, Tamara McBride and Brian Taliaferro were all nominated and elected to serve on the Executive Board. Because of the abbreviated online format, only essential business was conducted via secure online voting by registered messengers.

In his annual report, BGAV Executive Director John Upton highlighted several innovations and ministries that have developed over the past year. At the end of the Nov. 9 worship gathering, Upton announced his plan to retire effective July 31, 2022 – concluding his tenure of 20 transformative years as executive director.

The 199th Annual Meeting of the BGAV will be held Nov. 15-16, 2022, in Hampton, Va.

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