Georgia Baptists approve budget decrease, resolutions on CRT, supporting police, and opposing racism
Georgia Baptist Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond, Jr., leads attendees in applause for pastors and church staff attending the annual meeting after speaking of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s directive to honor every pastor as a hero. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index
MACON — In many ways the 199th annual meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention reflected many preceding it. Officers were elected. Resolutions were passed. Sermons were preached. Songs were sung.
Yet, this annual meeting wasn’t the typical three-day event that unofficially begins with a Sunday night inspirational rally and concludes Tuesday evening. Due to COVID concerns, both the rally and Monday’s Preaching Conference were cancelled. Socially distanced messengers watched and voted from four locations. An anticipated five-hour sprint of a gathering finished 30 minutes ahead of schedule, a feat rarely seen among Baptists.
Approximately 586 messengers approved a litany of measures Nov. 9 at Ingleside Baptist Church as well as the remote location of Turning Point at Mabel White Baptist Church. Among them was a 2021 budget of $37,835,000, a six percent decrease from last year. Of that budget, 40% will be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and 60% will stay in Georgia, figures that remain unchanged from 2019. Of that amount to remain in-state, 12.76% will go toward Georgia Baptist extension ministries while 47.24% will be marked for Georgia Baptist Mission Board ministries.
In addition to messengers, 73 guests attended and up to 180 online viewers watched the events.
In the Executive Director’s report, W. Thomas Hammond, Jr. celebrated the addition of 26 new churches, the majority of them non-Caucasian, as reported earlier by Randy Wood, chairman of the Church Membership Committee. Wood is also senior pastor of Liberty Baptist in Fayetteville. Hammond further thanked Tim McCoy, lead pastor of Ingleside, volunteers helping with the convention, and attendees for their patience.
“Hopefully, next year we will have a large room filled with Georgia Baptists to celebrate all that God is doing,” he said.
Kevin Williams, senior pastor of Villa Rica First Baptist Church, ran unopposed for GBC president and was thereby elected by proclamation. Pastor Barry Snapp of Victory Baptist in Rockmart was elected 1st vice president. A tie for 2nd vice president occurred, with Pastor Alex Cosio of Nuevo Horizonte in Woodstock and Matt Brady, pastor of Eastside in Claxton, each earning that distinction, while Stephen Williams, pastor of Belmont in Calhoun, was elected 4th vice president.
“I never thought in a million years I’d be standing here doing this,” Williams said to the crowd upon being introduced as GBC president. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve Georgia Baptists. It’s been my life.”
Williams, a former military police officer and U.S. Army veteran, spoke on what “service” means to him.
“I spend my life serving. That’s all I want to do. I’m honored to serve as the president of this convention, to follow my good friend Robby Foster. It’s been great to work with Thomas when I was a vice president under him (Hammond was elected GBC president at the 2015 and 2016 meetings.).
“I’m thankful to serve alongside him to do one thing – to reach this state with the gospel.”
David Mills, senior pastor of Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens and chairman of the Committee on Resolutions, delivered four resolutions for consideration. All were unanimously approved with no discussion by messengers.
Peter Lumpkins, a messenger from Cleveland and member of North Metro Church in Lawrenceville, submitted a resolution opposing Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality while David Eppling, a messenger and member of Concord Baptist in Clermont, provided one supporting law enforcement. The Committee on Resolutions wrote one condemning racism. A fourth expressed appreciation for Ingleside Baptist Church and Turning Point at Mabel White for serving as host sites for the annual meeting.
Mills asked for messengers to consider the resolutions on CRT and Intersectionality, law enforcement, and racism “as something as a package.” Three principles went into that thought, he said – awareness, sensitivity, and balance.
A Mission Georgia offering of $1,350,000 was passed by messengers. Of that, $645,500 will go toward needs related to foster care, adoption, human trafficking prevention, literacy missions, and pre/post-natal care.
The remainder will address church planting, international/immigrant missions, evangelism, community missions, and Women on Mission. Community missions includes drug addiction programs, the Baptist Mobile Dental Unit, and Disaster Relief.
Next year’s Georgia Baptist Convention will be held Nov. 8-9 at First Baptist Church in Jonesboro. The doctrinal sermon will be preached by Kyle Walker, senior pastor of Cartersville First Baptist, while the missions sermon will be brought by Ken Bevel, membership and local missions pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany. The 2022 annual meeting will occur Nov. 14-15 at the Augusta Convention Center.