Mississippi Baptist messengers approved an increased 2023 Cooperative Program budget, reelected Lloyd Sweatt to a second term as convention president and heard a preliminary report from the Sexual Abuse Response Team during their 186th annual meeting held at First Baptist Church Jackson.
The Mississippi Baptist Convention Board also revealed a new logo during the meeting. The design signifies the River of Life that is Jesus Christ and contains an abstract M and B for Mississippi Baptists. It replaces the logo that has been used by the board for the past 20 years.
Sexual Abuse Response Team
Sweatt, pastor of Meadowood Baptist Church, Amory, appointed the response team to review the Guidepost Solutions report and recommendations addressing allegations that the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee mishandled reports of sexual abuse. The team was also tasked with bringing its own report and recommendations to Mississippi Baptist messengers.
During the opening session, the response team announced the MBCB Executive Committee has allotted $250,000 to be used immediately by churches toward membership and training with MinistrySafe. The Texas-based legal ministry provides “a complete child safety system designed to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse,” according to the MinistrySafe website.
Mississippi Baptist churches in cooperation with MBCB can sign up for the $250 per church subsidy at the MinistrySafe website by entering the code MS2022.
Brad Eubank, SART chair and senior pastor of Petal First Baptist Church, told messengers a final report on the team’s work will be issued at the state’s 2023 annual meeting.
The response team is currently issuing special resources that can be used by churches, Eubank said, including a First Steps booklet, poster and card. The resources are not copyrighted and may be reproduced.
Greg Warnock, chairman of the MBCB budget committee and pastor of First Church Brookhaven, proposed the 2023 budget of $30,676,380 during the final session of Mississippi’s annual meeting.
The proposed budget represents a 1.47% increase over the 2022 CP budget and forwards 39% of total giving to Southern Baptist causes.
In addition to Sweatt being elected without opposition to serve a second term as president, Judson W. “Bill” Hurt, senior pastor of Pleasant Hill Church, Columbus, was elected to a first term as first vice president.
Scott Hanberry, senior pastor of Hardy Street Church, Hattiesburg, was tapped to serve a first term as second vice president. Rounding out the officer selections for the coming year were Michael Weeks, pastor of Pleasant Hill Church, Olive Branch, as recording secretary, a post he has held for 25 years. Will McNeese, pastor of Polkville Church, Polkville, will serve a first term as assistant recording secretary.
Sweatt preached the president’s address to close out the opening session. Worship through music was presented by the worship team of Meadowood Baptist Church. Hance Dilbeck, president and CEO of GuideStone Financial Resources, presented a devotional. Jordan Reed, a member of First Baptist Church Bruce, presented the Scripture reading from Exodus 19:1–6.
The 2023 Mississippi Baptist Convention annual meeting will be held Oct. 24–25 at First Church, Jackson.
Andrew Chesteen, senior pastor of First Baptist Church New Albany, will deliver the 2023 MBCB annual meeting convention sermon. Don Gann, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Oxford, will serve as the alternate.