Executive Board encouraged by testimonies of BSMs, discuss church planting increases


DALLAS - Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) directors are being missional on college campuses, a place not like any other in America, Bruce McGowan, director of Collegiate Ministries shared with Executive Board members on Monday, May 18, during their May board meeting in Dallas.

"Thousands of students are gathered together with a common purpose of getting an education, going to class, and being open and willing to dialogue," McGowan said. "Our goal is to incarnationally meet students on campus - to go where they are."

Board members heard reports from several BSM directors during the Monday evening session, sharing stories of God's work in the lives of students on campuses around the state. Currently, there are BSMs on 115 campuses in Texas, providing amazing opportunities to reach a generation of up-and-coming leaders and influencers and spread the Gospel literally worldwide. This year, 474 students will serve with Go Now missions, including 280 this summer across the state and around the world.

Five BSM leaders were recognized for their combined 130 years of service including Robert Hooker, evangelism consultant; Wayne Dillen, BSM director at Texas State; Joel Bratcher, BSM director at Texas A&M University; Buddy Young, BSM director at West Texas A&M University; and John Pearce, state office regional coordinator for Collegiate Ministries.

Tuesday morning's business session began with reports from Woman's Missionary Union of Texas and Texas Baptist Men.

Albert Reyes, president of Buckner International, presented Texas Baptists with the Jeremiah's Hope Award, recognizing gifts of more than $18 million over the past 10 years.

"You have given to serve vulnerable children, orphans and elders in the name of Jesus," Reyes said. "That does not count the members in your churches that go and serve … We want to say 'thank you.' When we go and touch the lives of other people, you are there."

Click here to watch a video honoring Texas Baptists and our partnership with Buckner.

The board approved a finance committee recommendation that $50,000 of income from the J.K. Wadley Mission Fund be used to support community ministries, such as literacy programs, healthcare initiatives and community development.

As part of the same recommendation, the board voted to establish the J.K. Wadley Income Fund for Community Ministries at the Baptist Foundation of Texas with $500,000 of accumulated income from the Wadley Fund. Income from the fund in previous years had been allocated for church starting.

A recommendation for use of the Larry and Jane Harlan Endowment Fund was also approved with half of the income given directly to Baptist University of the Americas and the second half to New Church Programs.

Funds from the McKie Trust were also approved for relocation from US Trust/Bank of America to the Baptist Foundation of Texas, with two-thirds of the income being allocated for Cooperative Program.

Craig Cristina, chairman of the Church Starting Committee, gave a report stating since 2011, 400 new churches have been started across the state. The churches have a 97 percent success rate of becoming self-sustaining, versus a 40 percent national average.

A lengthy discussion on starting churches arose during the meeting following a motion by Mike Harkrider, of First Baptist Church Boerne, to allocate more funds to the ministry.

"Our convention isn't getting younger, but those new churches are," Harkrider said. "I pray we will consider doing more to start new churches."

After discussion on funding and the church starting process by several board members, a motion was made to refer the recommendation to the Finance Committee, which was approved.

Executive Director David Hardage noted the existence of 470 multi-housing house congregations, which are not funded by Texas Baptists, but do receive minimal support from network leaders.

President Kathy Hillman encouraged executive board members to accept the challenge of the Great Commission to go and make disciples. Reflecting on her past experience as a Go Now missionary, Hillman acknowledged the difficulties of going, but the blessings far beyond compare.

Jill Larsen, treasurer, gave a financial report as of March 31, 2015. The Cooperative Program of Texas is at 92.8 percent, versus 90.9 percent in 2014. Investments stand at $134.7 million, reflecting an increase of $7.9 million reinvested from the sale of the Baptist building. Special giving is down $700,000 from last year.

The board approved a policy change recommended by the Administrative Support Committee. Policy 842 will be revised to bring the paid-leave benefit for adoption in line with natural birth for staff members.

In other business, several individuals were elected to serve on the Executive Board to replace vacancies, including:

  • Roy Soto – Iglesia Bautista La Cuidad – Irving
  • Juan Moreno – La Casa Del Alfrero – Lufkin
  • Kevin Van Hook – St. Peter's Baptist – Victoria
  • T. Wayne Price – First Baptist Church – Refugio

Additionally, Jill Teague, of Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene, was approved to a fill vacancy on the Hardin-Simmons University Board of Trustees.

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