Texas Baptists are engaged in exciting work around the state, according to Executive Director David Hardage's report during Monday's business session at the Annual Meeting.
Hardage introduced several staffers beginning new work around the state of Texas. David Scott serves as director of BOUNCE, a student-led disaster recovery effort for students from 6th grade through college. Scott invited churches to send their students to join in trips during Spring Break and in the summer of 2016 for disaster recovery and community rehabilitation projects.
Elizabeth Biedryzcki has begun a new venture serving as the South Texas regional coordinator and working primarily with the millennial generation, both inside and outside of the church. Hardage also introduced Delvin Atchison as the new director of the Great Commission Team. This new initiative combines the evangelism and discipleship teams to form one group aimed at telling people about Jesus and raising them up in mature faith.
Chris Liebrum was introduced as the director of the Office of Cooperative Program Ministries.
"We need you to be an advocate for Texas Baptists Cooperative Program giving," Hardage said.
Hardage also thanked Texas Baptists for embracing changes over the past year, including the relocation of the Christian Life Commission to Austin, the Historical Collection to Waco and the Texas Baptists staff offices to North Dallas.
He expressed gratitude for the numerous Texas Baptists serving on boards for institutions, agencies and affiliated ministries making a difference around the state.
"For your willingness to serve and to embrace the changes around us, thank you," Hardage said. "I want to be grateful for the difference we are making in Texas."
With regard to church starting, Hardage noted in the past five years, Texas Baptists have started 433 churches statewide with a 97 percent success rate. Nationally, church starting rates average below 40 percent.
"Our CLC in Austin is advocating day in and day out, making a difference on our behalf for causes that are good and right. They are a voice for the voiceless," Hardage said.
He also praised Texas Baptists' involvement in collegiate outreach, with Baptist Study Ministries on 115 campuses in the state.
"The most vulnerable and impressionable in society today are 18- to 25-year-olds," Hardage said. "There isn't a convention anywhere in this state or other states that is having the impact we are having. We make a difference."
At a recent meeting at Truett Seminary, Hardage was encouraged by the faith and enthusiasm of the seminary students.
"Pray for the next generation as they are beginning to get a glimpse of the practice and power of cooperation through this convention we call Texas Baptists," Hardage said.