This is the first of a dozen stories highlighting the upcoming annual meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention in Savannah. The stories, which will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next four weeks, will include both convention-related content and a look at how the Savannah Baptist Association is making a Kingdom impact in Coastal Georgia.
SAVANNAH — More than 1,200 messengers from Georgia Baptist churches will gather at Calvary Baptist Temple on Nov. 14-15 for the 195th annual session of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
The two-day meeting will be preceded the previous evening with an inspirational rally at the church at 6 p.m. on Sunday and a Monday afternoon Preaching Conference from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the same sanctuary at 4625 Waters Ave. Two hours later the Convention will be convened at 6 p.m. with the theme Unite Georgia guiding the business and inspirational sessions to follow.
The provisional agenda, subject to change, includes the following items:
Monday evening opening session, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Convention President Thomas Hammond, pastor of First Baptist Church of Alpharetta, will deliver the president’s message at 7:15 p.m., followed by the Missionary Sermon by Andy Childs, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church of Toccoa. Host pastor Kenny Grant will close the session with the benediction at 9 p.m.
Tuesday morning session, budget presentation, 9 a.m. to Noon
The Tuesday, Nov. 15 morning session will open with special music by the Voices of Truth at 9 a.m., followed by ministry reports highlighting the past year’s achievements and looking to the next year of ministry. The Executive Committee will give its report, which will include presenting the proposed $41,000,000 2017 budget to be considered by messengers. The budget includes an increase of $400,000 for missions and evangelism efforts to reach the state’s unchurched with the gospel.
The budget was approved by the Executive Committee during their Sept. 13 meeting at the Baptist Missions and Ministry Center in Duluth.
Of that $41,000,000 total, 42% – $17,220,000 – will be forwarded to Southern Baptist Convention ministries. Another 11.74% – $4,812,500 – will be allotted to Georgia Baptist Mission Extension Ministries such as colleges and universities, the Ministerial Education Fund, the Education Commission, Baptist Village, Baptist Retirement Communities of Georgia, and the Georgia Baptist Foundation.
The balance of 46.26% – $18,967,500 – will fund Georgia Baptist Mission Board ministries beginning in Georgia and extending around the world. The Board is expecting to receive additional non-Cooperative Program income of $2,983,745 from the Mission Georgia Offering of $1,450,000; Cooperative Agreements of $522,000; and Investment/Registration/and other Income of $1,011,745.
Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert White has thanked churches, associations, and laity statewide for promoting and sacrificially supporting the state missions offering.
He noted that 34% of the proposed budget is invested in the future “by providing ministry to children, youth, and college age students.” He called the earmarked funds among the best investments that Georgia Baptists could make in the future.
White also said that nearly 54% of budget receipts are sent off to other ministries before any funds are spent by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
The budget also provided a 2% raise for the agency’s 147 employees – the second consecutive year for a salary increase after six years of no raises due to the recession.
Jim Perdue, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Warner Robins, will deliver the doctrinal sermon at 11:30 a.m., followed by the noon benediction by Kevin Mansoori, pastor of First Baptist Church of Iranians in Alpharetta.
Messengers will also consider changes to the Convention’s Constitution
The changes cover a variety of topics, many which are simply refining of nomenclature such as changing the posting of notices in the print edition of The Christian Index to posting the information on the newspaper’s online website and/or that of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, formerly known as the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Changes in the downloadable document, available with changes clearly highlighted in yellow, relate to Name and Purpose (Article I), Meetings (Article III), Boards/Commissions/Committees (Article VI), Recognition of Associations For Representation On The Executive Committee (Article VII), Institutions (Article VIII), Amendments (Article IX), and Parliamentary Authority (Article X).
Tuesday afternoon concluding session, 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Congregational singing will open the Tuesday, Nov. 15 afternoon session at 2 p.m., followed by the Mission Georgia Report by Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert White. The Committee on Nominations Report will follow at 3:05 p.m. and the election of officers at 3:35 p.m. Hammond, who was elected president at last years’s meeting in Marietta, is expected to be granted a traditional second term. Georgia Baptists traditionally elect a president every other year.
The Committee on Resolutions Report will be delivered at 4 p.m., followed by the closing message at 4:35 p.m. delivered by H.B.Charles, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. The installation of new officers will occur at 5 p.m.
Georgia Tech Chaplain Derrick Moore will deliver the Closing Challenge at 5:10 p.m. The benediction will be offered at 5:30 p.m. by Robby Foster, pastor of Northside Baptist Church of Valdosta.
Backpacks being collected throughout the two-day session
A highlight of the annual meeting is the collection of Christmas backpacks which churches and Associations have been assembling for underprivileged children in Appalachia.
Last year Georgia Baptists donated a record 31,396 backpacks, easily exceeding the 25,000 goal. This year’s goal has been set at 30,000, Nuckolls said.
Last year those donations of school supplies, warm winter coats, gender specific Christmas presents, and copies of the Christmas story resulted in 1,317 professions of faith.
“These backpacks provide a wonderful means to meet both the physical as well as spiritual needs of the children and their parents. They are the only gifts that many of these children will ever receive during the Christmas season,” the state missionary noted.
Nuckolls said that the Mission Board, which is coordinating the efforts of the churches, has already received nearly 20,000 commitments by registering their intentions online. Of course, many others will appear at collection sites without having registered, which is acceptable.