California Baptists encouraged to ‘RE-ENGAGE’
By Terry Barone
CLOVIS, Calif. (BP) – After a 24-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, messengers to the 80th meeting of California Southern Baptist Convention were exhorted to “RE-ENGAGE” with communities, church members and the state convention, approved a motion to look into sexual abuse among California Southern Baptists, passed a resolution on race and racial reconciliation and elected new officers.
Meeting at Clovis Hills Community Church Oct. 26-27, messengers approved without discussion a 2022 budget of $6,717,620, which includes a Cooperative Program objective of $6 million. Of that $6 million, 35 percent is designated for national SBC missions and ministry, which is unchanged from 2021.
The California portion of CP receipts for mission causes is 62 percent, or $3,720,000. The Baptist Foundation of California will continue to receive 1 percent and California Baptist University will receive 2 percent. Percentage allocations for CSBC, BFC and CBU remain the same as in the 2021 budget.
Sexual abuse task force
Messengers spent about an hour debating a motion to form a task force to look into the handling of sexual abuse within CSBC. The motion was introduced at the opening session of the two-day meeting by Christopher Cole, pastor and messenger of Redeemer Baptist Church in Paso Robles.
After a flurry of other motions and procedural points, messengers approved a motion by Andrew Watkins, pastor and messenger from Unity Community Christian Baptist Church in Stockton that the “the new president appoint a committee to look into the issue of sexual abuse in California Southern Baptist Convention and report back to the Convention in 2022.”
In a tweet, D.J. Jenkins, pastor of Anthology Church in Studio City, said, “The vast majority of messengers and CSBC leadership expressed deep desires to tackle these issues together, despite our differing opinions on how best to do that. I’m grateful for the expressed unity and hopeful as we move forward together.”
Jenkins also co-authored a resolution with Cole on “The Sufficiency of Scripture for Race & Racial Reconciliation” which messengers adopted without debate. The CSBC resolution was patterned after a resolution adopted by SBC messengers at the 2021 annual meeting in Nashville.
The resolution repudiated “any theory or worldview that sees the primary problem of humanity as anything other than sin against God and the ultimate solution as anything other than redemption found only in Christ.”
Since the 2020 annual meeting was cancelled, officers elected in 2019 served an additional year. Victor Chayasirisobhon, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Anaheim, was elected president and is the first Asian American to serve in that role.
Sam Gray, pastor of Prosperity Avenue Baptist Church in Tulare, was elected vice president, and Eric Schumacher, pastor of worship, Laurel Ridge Church, Oakley, music director.
Messengers heard theme interpretations from several pastors and CSBC leaders as well as Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg.
A total of 315 messengers registered, along with 87 guests. The 2022 meeting will be held Oct. 25-26 at The Russian Baptist Church in West Sacramento.
Mississippi Baptists increase budget, CP allocation
By William H. Perkins Jr.
JACKSON, Miss. (BP) – Lloyd Sweatt, pastor of Meadowood Church in Amory, Miss., was elected to his first term as president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention (MBC) Oct. 26 by messengers attending the convention’s 185th annual meeting at First Baptist Church in Jackson. He replaces Ken Hester, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Pontotoc, who was term-limited after serving two one-year terms.
The official messenger count for the 2021 session, the first since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was 698.
Messengers approved a 2022 Mississippi Cooperative Program budget of $30,231,786, which reflects a 6 percent increase over the 2021 budget but a slight decrease from pre-pandemic levels. The budget also calls for 39 percent to be forwarded to national CP, up from 38 percent in 2019.
In addition to Sweatt, other officers include Scott Thomas II, senior pastor of North Oxford Church, who was elected first vice-president, and Whit Lewis, senior pastor of Longview Point Church, Hernando, who was elected second vice-president.
Recording Secretary Michael Weeks, pastor of Pleasant Hill Church, Olive Branch, was reelected without opposition, as was Associate Recording Secretary Terry Barnes, associate pastor of North Greenwood Church, Greenwood.
Eric Sherwood, lead pastor of Gore Springs Church, Gore Springs, introduced a motion for creation of a sexual abuse task force “for the purpose of developing and recommending a plan to the Mississippi Baptist Convention to facilitate ministries of [Mississippi Baptist Convention Board] churches and the MBCB entities.” The motion failed by vote of the messengers.
Messengers adopted a few resolutions, including one to welcome Shawn Parker as executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. Parker has been in the role since March 2020 but has not attended an annual meeting since the 2020 meeting was canceled.
Messengers heard messages from Parker, several pastors and two seminary presidents – Adam W. Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Jamie K. Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The 2022 MBCB annual meeting will be Nov. 1-2 and First Baptist Church of Jackson.