MARIETTA — Georgia Baptists welcomed 61 new congregations into their fellowship during the 2014-2015 church year, including 45 new churches and 15 new missions.
But the most noteworthy feature is that 51% of the congregations are non-Anglo/non-white, the highest percentage of new congregations in GBC history. Executive Committee member Jimmy Patterson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Newnan, made the announcement during the Executive Committee report this morning (Nov. 9).
Patterson also noted that, continuing the trend toward greater ethnic diversity, First Baptist Church of Iranians in Lanier Association was among those welcomed into the Georgia Baptist family. It is the first Iranian church plant in GBC history and is being sponsored by First Baptist Church of Cumming in cooperation with SEND Atlanta.
GBC Executive Director J. Robert White reported that Georgia Baptists gave a total of $62,096,469 in mission gifts to the Southern Baptist Convention in the Oct. 2014-Sept. 2015 church year. The state convention forwarded $33,498,449 to the SBC, which is 53.95%.
“We are so proud of our churches who support missions in Georgia and around the world,” the top administrator added.
White noted that 50% of the debt servicing line item, which was no longer needed due to the debt on the Missions Center being retired through a gift of the Georgia Baptist Health Care Foundation Ministry, was being added to the state’s Cooperative Program funds that are forwarded to Nashville.
Those new funds, which equal two percentage points, will result in an additional $500,000 to the International Mission Board and $200,000 to the North American Mission Board.
White asked committee members to be in prayer for the next session of the Administration Committee on Dec. 8 when Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore will be in attendance. Moore will clarify his statement that he would not attend a gay wedding but would have no problem with being present at a reception of a newly wed couple.
Administration Committee members took exception to the statement, likening attendance at a reception as the same as attending a wedding. Moore has come under growing criticism for not taking a more consistent approach to avoiding any semblance of endorsing a gay union.