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.