During their 187th annual meeting, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) messengers heard Kingdom ministry reports, celebrated their executive director’s 10 years of service, received a report from the Racial Reconciliation Task Force and adopted resolutions on parental responsibility, The Baptist Faith & Message and abortion.
“Let me make it very clear: We are doing good Kingdom work,” MBC president Jon Nelson told the 1,194 messengers and 267 guests from 451 churches who gathered in Branson for the Oct. 25-26 meeting.
Welcoming leaders from various MBC ministries to the stage, MBC Executive Director John Yeats highlighted the ministries accomplished through Missouri Baptist cooperation.
“Like an internal combustion engine,” he said, “there are so many things working together among Missouri Baptists to accomplish the work of the Lord.”
Yeats and his wife, Sharon, were recognized during the meeting for 10 years of service as executive director of the MBC. For the occasion, messengers received a commemorative booklet, titled “A Defining Decade: Missouri Baptists 2011-2021,” and they learned that Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is in the process of establishing an endowment for the John & Sharon Yeats Chair of Baptist Studies.
This year also marks 25 years of Yeats’ serving the Southern Baptist Convention as its recording secretary.
Keynote speakers at the annual meeting included Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board; Matt Kimbrough, assistant professor of theology and head of the Division of Christian Ministry at Southwest Baptist University; and best-selling author Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas.
During the meeting, the MBC’s four officers were re-elected. They are: President Jon Nelson, pastor, SOMA Community Church, Jefferson City; First Vice President Chris Williams, pastor, Fellowship Church, Greenwood/Raymore; Second Vice President Lane Harrison, lead pastor, Life Point Church, Ozark; and Recording Secretary Jason Marlin, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Kirksville.
2022 budget, offering goals approved
During their business sessions, messengers approved the MBC’s 2022 spending plan, which is based on a $15 million CP budget. This budget sets aside 5 percent of the total CP giving for “shared expenses,” which are allocated for annuity protections and The Pathway.
From the remaining funds, 35 percent is allocated for Missouri Baptist missions and ministries. Additionally, according to the budget, 22 percent is allocated for Missouri Baptist entities, including the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, The Baptist Home, the Missouri Baptist Foundation, Southwest Baptist University, Hannibal-LaGrange University and Missouri Baptist University. Finally, 38 percent of these CP funds are forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention to support its ministries.
Any CP receipts above the budgetary goal will be split evenly between MBC and SBC ministries.
Additionally, Missouri Baptists approved 2022 goals for its various missions offerings: a $740,000 goal for the Missouri Missions Offering (MMO); a $4 million goal for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions; a $2 million goal for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions; and a $150,000 goal for the World Hunger Fund.
Racial Reconciliation Task Force
Missouri Baptist messengers also received a report from the MBC’s Racial Reconciliation Task Force.
The task force, which first convened last May, includes MBC President Jon Nelson, pastor of Soma Community Church, Jefferson City; Merle Mees, pastor of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Liberty; Jeremy Muniz, pastor of Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Springfield; Ken Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church, Kearney; Michael T. Byrd, Sr., pastor of Faith Community Bible Church, St. Louis; Joanna Gonzalez-Mendez, member of Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Springfield; Carlos Smith, pastor of The Journey Church Hanley Road in University City; Emily Stallings, member of Soma Community Church, Jefferson City; MBC Multiplying Churches Director Rick Hedger; Emily Stallings, member of SOMA Community Church, Jefferson City; Jordan Wade, member of Mosaic Bible Fellowship, Kansas City; and MBC Executive Director John Yeats.
Speaking to messengers, Mike Hubbard, pastor of Genesis Church in Eureka, said the task force is inspired by Revelation 7:9. “The vision here is of a multi-ethnic, every-tribe, every-nation, Kingdom at the end,” he said, “and God’s desire is for that vision of the Kingdom to work backwards into the church now, as we live out the implications of God’s vision here and now.”
The task force’s report encourages greater education about racial reconciliation, which can be accomplished through mutual prayer, the pursuit of authentic relationships and Kingdom partnerships, and practicing the Great Commandment. This can also happen by “inviting churches within our state into kingdom partnership to see churches planted, revitalized, and encouraged to think beyond where they are and connection intentionally with those in other contexts.”
Among other action steps, the report recommended that Missouri Baptists develop training opportunities and educational events to foster racial reconciliation and publish a “Missouri Baptist Historical Narrative About the Struggle Toward Biblical Racial Reconciliation.”
Among resolutions messengers adopted during the meeting:
- “On Parental Responsibility,” urging Missouri Baptists to “embrace their ultimate responsibility for the spiritual and social development of their children by being biblically intentional and diligent in their efforts to disciple their children.”
- “On Gospel Reconciliation and Unity,” commending the work of the Missouri Baptist Racial Reconciliation Task Force and urging Missouri Baptists “to pray for one another, pursue authentic relationships, practice the Great Commandment, and develop appropriate Kingdom partnerships as recommended by the Task Force.”
- “On Knowing and Teaching the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) 2000,” encouraging Missouri Baptist pastors to teach their churches the content and history of the BFM.
- “On Ending and Abolishing Abortion,” urging Missouri Baptists to affirm the sanctity of life and oppose abortion. It called on the Missouri legislature and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to abolish abortion in the state, to protect unborn lives, and to end tax-payer funding of abortion. It also gave “thanks for all legislation which reduces the number of abortions while still striving for abortion’s absolute abolition.” However, messengers rejected a substitute resolution, which called for the total abolition of abortion and rejected pro-life incrementalist measures.
Messengers also voted down a motion that would have created a sexual abuse task force in the state.
Scott Gordon, a messenger from Claycomo Baptist Church, brought the motion, which called upon the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) president “to appoint a task force to examine … the Convention’s history relating to sexual abuse prevention and caring for sexual abuse reform initiatives and whether there are any patterns of intimidation of victims or advocates or resistance to sexual abuse reform initiatives.”
The motion failed with a 507-266 vote.
In another motion, Melissa Wilbanks, a messenger of Parkway Baptist Church, St. Louis, called for a missionary task force to help Missouri Baptists find avenues for mission endeavors. Her motion was referred to the MBC Executive Board.
Josh Andrews, a messenger from Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Edgerton, made another motion, proposing new assignments for the Credentials Committee. His motion was referred to the MBC Executive Board under bylaw 5.A.3.a
In other business, MBC messengers:
- amended the MBC Constitution, adding a paragraph that allows Executive Board officers and administrative committee to cancel or reschedule any meeting of the MBC, should “a catastrophe, disaster, condition endangering life or health, or other grave emergency likely to affect the meeting” arise.
- authorized, approved and ratified “the formation of new non-profit corporations by The Baptist Home, to serve as holding companies for each of the separate locations of The Baptist Home.”
- amended MBC Bylaw 6.H., calling the Resolutions Committee to publish resolutions at least a week before the annual meeting.
- and followed the Executive Board’s recommendation in rejecting amendments to the Nominating Committee Rules and Procedures that were proposed during the 2020 annual meeting by Bob Ingold, a messenger from Second Baptist Church, Springfield.