Archive for September, 2009

BGCT now ‘Texas Baptists’

September 30, 2009


The Baptist General Convention of Texas will now be known simply as Texas Baptists, its Executive Board voted Sept. 29.

Last November, the BGCT Future Focus Committee suggested the convention change its name, and messengers referred the decision to the Executive Board. After some study, the board voted to trademark the Baptist General Convention of Texas as Texas Baptists.  The legal name will continue to be the Baptist General Convention of Texas, but the convention will be known as Texas Baptists.

BGCT Executive Director Randel Everett said the arrangement allows the convention to clearly communicate its identity and reflects how Texas Baptists think of themselves while valuing its history.

“The Baptist General Convention of Texas can be cumbersome to say and difficult to explain,” Everett said.

“This is primarily how we identify ourselves as a body of believers.”

In a busy day of business, the board also approved a $44.029 million 2010 proposed BGCT budget. Of that proposal, $37.615 million is budgeted to be given through the BGCT Cooperative Program. An additional $2.35 million is to come from investment income and $1.25 million is to be used from reserves, though BGCT Treasurer Jill Larsen hopes all those reserve funds will not be needed. Additional funds will come from other sources such as the Southern Baptist Convention North American Mission Board and revenue.

She described the economy as going through a “moose recovery” where it is slowly pulling out of the recession, but is going through peaks and valleys as it does that. Larsen said BGCT leaders sought to put together an attainable 2010 budget proposal as they planned.

“We went into this budget cycle looking for a realistic, conservative budget,” Larsen said.

In order to make the budget, the BGCT cut some of its giving toward its employees’ respective retirement accounts. Neither BGCT staff leaders or Executive Board members liked the action, but taking it meant avoiding eliminating staff positions and ministry funds.

“I want to commend them [for taking the action],” said Bruce Webb, pastor of First Baptist Church in The Woodlands. “But frankly, I’m a little embarrassed to be cutting their retirement.”

Ed Jackson, a member of First Baptist Church in Garland, reminded the board that the proposed budget is simply that. Congregations’ willingness to give determines whether the budget is fulfilled. The budget proposal next goes before messengers to the BGCT Annual Meeting Nov. 16-17.

“The churches have the final vote on this budget,” he said.

The BGCT Executive Board staff is running at 90 percent of the approved 2009 convention budget. Giving through the Cooperative Program is running at 88.89 percent of the budget. 

Giving to the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions is running at 92.47 percent, and giving to the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger is running at a 113.75 percent clip. The hunger offering is an emphasis of Texas Hope 2010, a BGCT initiative encouraging Christians to pray for others, care for those in need and share the gospel with every Texan by Easter 2010.

In other matters, the board granted Lifeway Christian Resources a one-time exception to the convention’s policies regarding criteria about exhibiting at the BGCT Annual Meeting. Lifeway cannot sign a required document that affirms its support of the BGCT because its policy prohibits it from doing so with any organization.

Addressing the board, BGCT President David Lowrie said he has had several conversations with Lifeway leadership. Lifeway wants to exhibit during the annual meeting, but simply cannot sign the paperwork.

Lowrie indicated a one-time exception allows both parties more time to find an acceptable solution.

The board elected Debbie Ferrier, member of Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, as its chairwoman. She is the first woman ever to lead the board.

The board elected Van Christian, pastor of First Baptist Church in Comanche, as its vice chairman.

Board members also approved a proposal that will be sent to annual meeting messengers that recommends a 12-person committee be formed to work with the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas in proposing a new unification agreement that outlines the relationship between the two groups in 2010.

“Our goal is to strengthen the unification agreement between convencion and BGCT,” said Hispanic Baptist Convention President Victor Rodriguez. “We truly believe our best years are ahead of us.”

The board addressed changes in the agreements between the convention and the Baptist Church Loan Corporation and the convention and Valley Baptist Health System.

Executive Board members declined a proposal to attempt holding its committee meetings electronically prior to a one-day board meeting in May. It would have been the first time that format would have been attempted.

In presenting the motion, BGCT Associate Executive Director Steve Vernon noted the move could save the convention roughly $20,000. Board members however believed such a format change would adversely affect the amount of input and interaction it would have in the decision-making process.

Check in on the Executive Board

September 29, 2009

As has become customary, we will be streaming today’s meeting of the BGCT Executive Board. The board will consider a number of business matters, including the budget. It also will participate in a special Hope 2010 prayer time for the lost and hungry in the state.

To join the board in its meeting, click here. Broadcasting starts at roughly 8:30 a.m.

Hospital serving up hope

September 28, 2009

Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas is serving hope to people who eat in its facilities.

As part of its participation in Texas Hope 2010, the hospital is using 15,000 tray liners that encourage Christians to pray for people around them, care for those in need and share the gospel – the three pillars of the Baptist General Convention of Texas initiative aimed at sharing the hope of Christ with every Texan by Easter 2010.

David Cross, director of the hospital’s chaplaincy department, said he hopes the liners inspire believers, but also catch the eye of non-believers, creating avenues through which the gospel can be shared or lowering barriers so others can share the hope of Christ.

“This is a way to emphasize the concepts of praying, caring and sharing,” he said. “We intend for it to heighten the curiosity of patients or family members who might be standing there feeding a patient so when they are exposed to other materials such as a CD passed out in their neighborhood a light bulb might go on that we are loving them by serving them.”

The hospital is the latest BGCT-affiliated institution to participate in Texas Hope 2010. For more information about the initiative, visit

Partnerships work both ways

September 28, 2009

When I think about BGCT’s partnership efforts, I typically think of Texas Baptists doing mission work in a particular country or region. Texas Baptists are seeking to help people share the gospel in New England and Venezuela, among other places. As a result of these efforts, people are coming to know Christ and seeing their lives changed.

But partnerships are two-way streets. Texas Baptists are trying to share the hope of Christ with more than 11 million people in the state who have no connection to any church.

And our partners in Venezuela, the Venezuelan Baptist Convention, are helping Texas Baptists share the gospel here. Kaitlin recently wrote a great story about Patrick Weller, a missionary from Venezuela who is serving with the Laredo Baptist Association. Among other things that Weller said, he indicated his Venezuelan background is helping him share the gospel with Texans.

“Because I’m from another country, especially another country where people know about our president and the petroleum, God used that to open doors to meet people, to share,” Weller said. “I love opportunities to speak with different people.”

If you’re curious about mission opportunities through BGCT partnerships, please contact Steve Seaberry at 888-244-9400 or He’ll be glad to help however he can.

BGCT creates Center for Effective leadership

September 24, 2009

On September 9, Randel announced the formation of the Center for Effective Leadership “to provide resources for pastors, church staffs and congregations in developing excellent leadership skills and practices.”

Ron Herring, Emily Prevost and Diamend Bianco are the center’s staff and will seek to help develop leaders across the state in a new way. They are already seeking to listen to Texas Baptists and begin to ascertain people’s leadership needs. From there, they can connect people to existing resources and create others, using the skills of passionate Texas Baptists to provide contextually-appropriate leadership resources to meet needs.

The center’s budget has limited Cooperative Program funds at this point and is meant to quickly become fully supported by money from other sources.  The Center for Effective Leadership will continue some of the ministries performed by what was the BGCT Congregational Leadership Team, including women in ministry efforts and ministry assesment testing for ministry students. In fact, by connecting with a wider group of Texas Baptists, Ron and Emily believe these efforts will grow larger and more effective than they currently are. They will continue to work with our institutions sponsoring Women In Ministry conferences at Logsdon and Truett and encouraging ministries like the Latina Leadership Institute led by Dr. Nora Lozano of BUA.

The creation of the center does mean some staff changes. Bivocational Specialist Cecil Deadman will continue this role and has moved to the Christian Education/Discipleship Center. Bill Claiborne, who was primarily working on Texas E-Quip, is now the congregational strategist for Area 8, which includes Dallas. All of the strategists are now in the Christian Education/Discipleship Center.

One staff position, leadership development/women in ministry consultant; coordinator of strategic relationships, will be eliminated Oct. 31 by the change in convention structure and strategy. Randel Everett said, “We are grateful for the significant contribution that Julie Sadler has made to Texas Baptists and are confident she will continue to have a positive influence on our churches especially in matters such as Women In Ministry.”

If you have any questions about the Center for Effective Leadership or simply want to talk about leadership, call Ron or Emily at 888-244-9400.

Not turning a blind eye anymore

September 23, 2009

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Patty Lane, director of BGCT Intercultural Ministries, stating some interesting information from one of her ministry partners.  Here’s what they shared.

There are an estimated 150,000 Muslims living the North Texas area representing over 40 countries. Major waves of Muslim immigration into North Texas began in the early 1980’s with students and professionals who continue to work hard building their place in the North Texas cultural and religious fabric. The DFW Muslim community currently consists of over 30 mosques, 6 full-time schools and numerous ethnic restaurants and retail stores.

Many times when we hear about the Muslim community, we automatically think of the extreme Islam we see on TV and read in the newspapers. I think that this makes us afraid to reach out to Muslims who live in our cities. Other times we are so busy that we don’t stop to see the cultural tapestry we are now living in and to learn how to minister in this context. I don’t share this information to alarm you but to plead for your compassion and to help you see that the nations really are living in our backyard.

I have to admit that I am guilty of these things – to turning a blind eye and walking in fear. Before I spent six months in South Asia, the area of the world with the highest muslim population (yes, it’s even higher than the Middle East), I was afraid and had no clue how to love a Muslim. Then I became a part of their world. I saw that the young women were just like me… they wanted to be loved. They wanted a place to call home. They wanted friends to laugh with and to enjoy a cup of tea with. And they desired spiritual things too.

The Holy Spirit taught me to see beyond the black burkahs and head coverings that were so different from the way I dress, and these ladies became my precious and dear friends. The only major difference between us was that they didn’t know that Jesus can bring hope and life to them. The Lord broke my heart so that I was willing to do anything so that these ladies would know about my Jesus who has brought value and love to my life.

We know Jesus, but do we share him with our Muslim neighbors? Are we willing to take the time to build relationships, to invest in their lives so they will come to trust us, call us friends and listen to our stories about Christ changing our lives? Are we willing to slow down our pace of life so that we can help introduce them to true Christian community?

I pray that you take a look at your life and let the Holy Spirit reveal people in your community, even the Muslims next door, that you and your church need to love with Christ’s beatiful, hope-giving, unconditional love.

Former HSU music dean dies

September 21, 2009

Dr. Wesley Coffman, former dean of the Music School at Hardin-Simmons University (1981-1995), died last week.

Dr. Coffman devoted his life to Texas music education in the church, the school, and the community. For generations to come, Texas musicians will be shaped by his influence.

Peggy Pattillo, Dr. Coffman’s administrative assistant at HSU, said “Dr. Coffman was a gentle man…a good man to work for. No matter your place in life, he cared about you. He never wanted to bring attention to himself, but was always there praising others. He was a mentor and friend to all.” 

During his service at Hardin-Simmons University, he formulated the plans for a new music building and the complete renovation of an existing building. He tenaciously fought for his dream and convinced the University Administration to raise the funds necessary to build what is now the Hemphill Music Building and the complete restoration of old Caldwell Hall.  (more…)

What the world should see when it looks at the Church

September 21, 2009

Over on his blog, Lee has an extremely well written post about what the Bible calls the Church to look like to others. Among other things, he writes:

Love.  Peace.  Unity in the body through Christ.  Building a church that lives in obedience to God and is the body of Christ in the world. 

Let’s pray that we will be all that God wants us to be.  In all things.

I believe Lee’s highlighting of this biblical teaching is a challenge to all of us. I know it’s a challenge to me. To read it, click here.

What’s the M in MBA?

September 21, 2009

Many times people think about missionaries as individuals who give up everything they own and spend the rest of their lives in a third world country. And there are people who do that. God blesses them, and they reach many, many people for Christ.

But as we’ve seen through Texas Hope 2010, people need to hear about Christ in our own backyard. There are literally millions of people in Texas who have no connection to church whatsoever. To share the hope of Christ with each of these people requires each of us living out our faith daily.

Like these Baylor students, who are putting Ministry into their MBA.

Former BWA head dies

September 21, 2009

Nilson Fanini, former Brazilian pastor, BWA president and friend to many Texas Baptists, died  Sept. 19. He was 77 and will be missed. For more information, click here.