New England Baptist messengers celebrated new mission partnerships, which included a four-year initiative with the International Mission Board, they voted to increase their 2022 budget, and elected new officers during the Baptist Convention of New England’s 39th annual meeting, Nov. 5-6.
The annual meeting, which was held at South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham, MA, drew 226 people, including 131 representatives, 65 guests and 30 staff members and vendors, for worship, prayer, business and celebrating what God is doing as New England Baptists focused on the theme of Partnering Together.
“How will we partner together to reach New England with the Gospel?” asked Terry Dorsett, BCNE executive director, in his report. “We will build up people … For when we build on a foundation of Christ and we build in a way that lasts, it is for eternity.”
Adam Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, preached the annual sermon on the importance of cooperation, using Mark 2:1-12 as his text. Greenway reminded BCNE church leaders and members that our human tendency is to get upset about “things that won’t matter one iota in eternity” when “the need of the hour is to do everything we can to bring people to Christ.” Like the four friends who carried the paralyzed man, Greenway said Baptists need to cooperate with one another to take people to the feet of Jesus.
Multilingual worship was led in English, French, Creole and Portuguese by teams from South Shore Baptist Church; New Jerusalem Evangelical Baptist Church in Randolph, MA; and Portuguese Baptist Church in Saugus, MA.
Partnership with IMB Europe
The convention officially kicked off a four-year partnership with the European affinity of the IMB during the Friday evening session.
Dorsett signed a BCNE/IMB Europe collaborative partnership for the Gospel, committing to encourage New England churches to partner to reach the nations and make a good faith effort to facilitate at least 50 multi-year partnerships that include annual mission trips between New England churches and IMB missionaries in Europe.
Missionaries Andy and Michelle Milam, serving in Portugal, and Rusty and Jennifer Ford, serving in Spain, represented the IMB and shared how God is working in Europe.
Celebration of Brazilian partnership
Pastor Ebenezer Carlos Santos, president of the Brazilian Baptist Fellowship of America, and Joe Souza, BCNE ethnic ministry coordinator, spoke in the Friday evening session about the special connection between New England, Brazil and the IMB. Pioneer Baptist missionary Luther Rice, a native of Northborough, MA, landed in Salvador, Brazil, on his way from India to New England in the early 1800s. Observing the lack of understanding of the Gospel, Rice wrote in his journal of the need for missionary work in Brazil. A few decades later, the IMB sent the first Baptist missionaries to Salvador, Brazil, in 1871. As a direct result of this ministry, dozens of Brazilian-born pastors are now leading strong, healthy Baptist churches reaching Brazilian immigrants in New England.
“We are here today because you came to tell us about Jesus,” Santos said.
To honor 150 years of Baptist work in Brazil, Antonio Ferreira, pastor of The Lovely Church in Peabody, MA, presented a plaque to IMB representatives and quoted Isaiah 52:7, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…”
Gessuy Freitas, pastor of Brazilian Baptist Church of Plymouth, MA, presented a plaque to Dorsett, thanking the BCNE for providing encouragement and support to Brazilian pastors. Freitas, who moved to the Boston area in 1986 and has started three Portuguese-speaking churches, teared up as he shared how much the relationships in the BCNE have meant to him in early years full of loneliness and discouragement.
Impacting the Future
Representatives accepted the Board of Directors’ recommendation to adopt three goals as part of the Impacting the Future initiative for 2022-2025.
“When you’re sitting in a sea of opportunity, it’s great to have some lighthouses on the shore that will give you some direction,” said Neal Davidson, pastor of Hope Chapel in Sterling, MA, and chairman of the BCNE board of directors.
The first goal states that BCNE churches will partner to reach the nations by praying that God raises up at least one family per year from New England to commit to vocational ministry through the IMB and praying that God helps New England churches reach the nations through local relationships.
The second goal is focused on equipping New Englanders for multiplication, and urges churches to focus on one of the following pathways: praying and working toward revitalizing a total of five churches per year, praying and working toward planting 20 new churches per year or praying and working toward helping 10 baptistic churches affiliate with the BCNE each year.
In relation to the third goal, New England churches commit to encouraging Gospel proclamation by prayerfully seeking to reach and baptize 2,000 new believers each year; intentionally seeking to convert and disciple young adults between 12 and 25 years of age; and praying that God will lead churches to give more through the BCNE for a total increase of 10% each year in order to achieve Great Commission goals.
More information, including action steps, is available at www.bcne.net/impact.
Awards and training
The Robert Brindle Church Planting Award for 2021 was awarded to Dr. David Jackson, who serves as a replant specialist with the North American Mission Board.
Jackson moved with his family to New England in the early 1990s and planted a church in the South Shore area of Boston. As church planting strategist for the Greater Boston Baptist Association in the late 1990s, he saw 22 churches planted in the Boston area in three years. More recently, Jackson served as the BCNE’s church planting director from 2014-2020 and oversaw the planting of about 150 churches outside of the Boston area during this period.
The Ray Allen Evangelism Award for 2021 was presented to Samuel Coberley, lead pastor of Lake Sunapee Baptist Church in Newport, NH. In the past 10 years, Coberley has led the church as it has baptized 138 people and grown from eight members to a pre-COVID attendance of 220.
For the fourth year, representatives and guests were given the opportunity to attend training sessions in conjunction with the annual meeting. This year’s sessions included:
- “Partnering in Reaching the Next Gen” led by Allyson Clark, BCNE co-director of Next Gen ministries for youth, and Andy Haynes, BCNE co-director of Next Gen collegiate ministries;
- “Partnering in Reaching Children” led by Sandy Coelho, BCNE leadership development director;
- “Partnering in Church Revitalization” led by Gary Moritz, BCNE director of church revitalization, and David Jackson, NAMB replant specialist;
- “Partnering in Reaching Ethnic Groups” led by Joe Souza, BCNE ethnic ministries coordinator, and Peter Yanes, executive director of SBC Asian American relations and mobilization;
- “Partnering in Reaching Europe” led by Kimber Huff, BCNE partnership and development director, and IMB missionaries Andy and Michelle Milam and Rusty and Jennifer Ford;
- “Partnering in Fundraising” led by Terry Dorsett, BCNE executive director, and Jody Hurst, associate general counsel at the Southern Baptist Foundation;
- “Partnering through Church Planting” led by Hal Haller, BCNE associate executive director, and Jason Hodges of SEND Network New England;
- And “Pathways to Serving with the IMB” led by Terry Sharp, IMB convention and network relations leader, and Alan Garnett, IMB personnel consultant.
Messengers approved a 2022 budget of $2,482,953, an increase of 2.2 percent, compared to the 2021 budget.
The budget includes $200,000 allotted to Cooperative Program missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention, representing 20 percent of the convention’s CP giving, the same percentage as last year.
“We continue to believe that the Cooperative Program is the most effective way for Baptist churches to fulfill the Acts 1:8 mandate,” Dorsett said.
In a unanimous vote, the following officers were elected for the coming year: president, Stephen Woodard, pastor of Nashua Baptist Church in Nashua, NH, and vice-president, Lierte Soares, pastor of Precision Valley Baptist Church in North Springfield, VT, and Framingham Baptist Church in Framingham, MA.
“It was great to be together, in person, celebrating God’s work in New England. Instead of hindering our ministry, the pandemic propelled it forward, and our best days are yet to come,” Dorsett said.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 4-5, 2022, at Iglesia Casa de Oracion in Worcester, MA. The theme will be “Mission Field = Mission Force.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was written by Kimber Huff for the Baptist Convention of New England.