Alabama Baptists voted to build a new disaster relief facility, celebrated 100 years of collegiate ministry and started a five-year partnership with Alaska Baptists during the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 16 – 17.
The new disaster relief facility — which will go on the property of the current facility in Pine Level — will help expand the state’s thriving ministry that “takes Christ into crisis,” said Mel Johnson, who presented the recommendation to the convention.
“Disaster relief remains one of the wonderful Christ-centered ministries made up of 7,000 trained, credentialed and background-checked volunteers from all of our churches,” said Johnson, lead mission strategist for Autauga Baptist Association and a member of the Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief task force.
Johnson was the state’s disaster relief strategist when construction began on the first disaster relief facility. It was completed in 2016, the year Mark Wakefield, current disaster relief strategist, took over the role.
Alabama ranks in the top five states for Southern Baptist disaster relief ministries in terms of size and deployment of personnel. That’s great, but the growing ministry needs more room to store equipment and supplies, Wakefield said.
As Johnson told messengers, “We are in the middle of some growing pains, and we need to have an expansion.”
The messengers approved the construction, the cost of which will not exceed $275,000, according to the recommendation. The funds will come from the general disaster relief account.
During the meeting, messengers also celebrated another thriving ministry — Baptist Campus Ministries.
“One hundred years ago, God began using Alabama Baptists to penetrate this place with the incredible influence of the gospel in a dedicated and intentional way,” said Mike Nuss, director of the SBOM office of collegiate and student ministries.
“Baptist churches and local Baptist associations formed Baptist Student Union organizations that we now call Baptist Campus or Baptist Collegiate Ministries.”
Today Alabama is home to 300,000 college students, he said. “The university campus is the greatest and most strategic missions field in the world. Where else in the world has God brought together so many so they can hear and respond to the gospel?”
It’s also the best place to raise up missionaries and church leaders, Nuss said, noting that the partnership between churches and college ministries is vital.
“Let’s commit to work harder than ever to fulfill the Great Commission on campuses and reach every student,” he said.
While that partnership has been going on for a century, Alabama Baptists started a new one during the meeting — a five-year partnership with Alaska Baptists.
Scotty Goldman, director of the SBOM office of global missions, thanked messengers for their support of the effort and introduced three ministry partners — Randy Covington, executive director of the Alaska Baptist Resource Network; Jae McKee, a native Alabamian who serves Alaska Baptists as director of missions and church planting; and Cody Schwegel, pastor of Liberty Church in Craig, Alaska. Jamie Baldwin, who recently retired from the SBOM, spent six months serving at Schwegel’s church.
Covington said it was a “real joy” to partner with Alabama Baptists in ministry.
“One of the things I love about Alabama Baptists is you’re not just restricted to the boundaries of your great state; you have a desire to see the gospel go beyond your borders … and to help us in reaching our state for Jesus Christ,” he said. “Thank you so much for the partnership.”
Also during the meeting, messengers approved a $37 million Cooperative Program budget.
The budget — which is $500,000 below 2021 and 2020 — will continue to be divided 50/50 between the Southern Baptist and Alabama Baptist missions and ministries, according to Rick Lance, SBOM executive director.
In other business, Wakefield announced this year’s winner of the Tommy Puckett Award for Excellence, named in honor of Johnson’s predecessor, a longtime Alabama Baptist men’s ministry and disaster relief strategist who died in 2018. The award is presented annually to someone who contributes strategically to ABDR.
This year’s honoree, Ron Warren, recently retired as state disaster relief coordinator. Warren has “for 20 years or so been … the heartbeat of responding with chainsaws and with heavy equipment to flooded areas,” Wakefield said. “He has spent untold hours on the telephone lining up teams to go to areas that are affected by disasters.”
Ken Allen, director of the SBOM office of LeaderCare, also presented this year’s Troy L. Morrison Leadership/Church Health Awards to:
- Blake Kersey, pastor of First Baptist Church Decatur, for established work,
- Jarman Leatherwood, pastor of House of Hope and Restoration Church in Huntsville, for new work, and
- Tim Henning, pastor of New Beginnings Fellowship in Trussville, for bivocational work.
Lance also announced the annual for this year’s meeting will be dedicated to Morrison, Lance’s predecessor who died in September.
Also during the SBOM report:
- Messengers voted to accept the 2020 audit report.
- Messengers affirmed the special offering goals for 2022 — Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, $12 million; Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, $6 million; Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, $3 million; Myers-Mallory State Missions Offering, $1.2 million; Hunger Offering, $800,000.