Alabama Baptists reviewed their commitment to preventing abuse in churches, renewed this year’s budget and reaffirmed their long-range vision at this year’s Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 12–13.
During the report of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM), Executive Director Rick Lance gave a presentation on how the SBOM aims to help churches be safer places for all people, starting with a task force working to “provide the best resources possible.”
Though the SBOM is “not a governing body,” he said they have three main aims on this topic — “reducing the risk,” “responding to victims” and “respecting our values.”
The SBOM is partnering with MinistrySafe, an organization that advises churches and ministries of best practices to prevent sexual abuse and provides training and workshops for churches.
Nearly 1,000 Alabama Baptists have been trained so far, with the next training set for April 7, 2020, at First Baptist Church, Decatur.
The SBOM will background check its new trustees and continue to background check all employees, Lance said. He asked churches to “underscore” the “vitally important” need for reporting suspected abuse immediately to the county’s DHR, law enforcement or the district attorney. The first priority should be the well-being of the victim, he said.
Lance also noted that other resources of various kinds are available to churches through the SBOM.
“This is just a report but it is more than a report in terms of its immense necessity of being taken very seriously,” Lance said. “We need to do what we can to make our churches safer places, and we need to grieve with those who have been hurt and harmed, and we need to pray that what has been happening in our churches will not happen in the future.”
Alabama Baptists also unanimously voted to approve a $37.5 million budget for 2020 — the same as 2019 — with a 50/50 split of Cooperative Program funds between the state’s budget and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It’s the third year for an even split.
Lance also announced that state Baptists have made it over the $1 million mark in Myers-Mallory State Missions Offering giving on their way to meeting this year’s $1.2 million goal.
Taking a few minutes to look forward Lance reminded Alabama Baptists of Beyond 2020, an effort to vision cast for the future, which will transition to OneMission Alabama.
He read five “strategic reaffirmations” that underscored state Baptists’ commitment to: spiritual preparation, evangelism and discipleship, church revitalization and planting, prayer, and giving through the Cooperative Program.
“Next year you will receive some strategic initiatives that will reflect those strategic affirmations,” Lance said.
Also during the report Mike Jackson, director of the SBOM office of leadership and church health, presented the Troy L. Morrison Leadership/Church Health Award to Craig Carlisle, associational missionary for Etowah Baptist Association.
Jackson said the presentation was especially meaningful as Carlisle grew up under Morrison’s ministry then served as Morrison’s pastor at Twelfth Street Baptist Church, Rainbow City, before moving into the associational missionary role.
“Craig has taken it on in his personal life to minister to ministers and encourage us,” Jackson said.
Mark Wakefield, SBOM disaster relief strategist, also presented the Tommy Puckett Award for Excellence to two “key leaders” — longtime disaster relief volunteer John Hayes, a member of Adamsville Baptist Church, and Becky Luther, a member of East Gadsden Baptist Church. Luther coordinated child care for the SBC annual meeting in Birmingham in June.
Two missions volunteers — Lenora Hamrick and Emily Stanford — also were recognized for their outstanding missions volunteerism.
Hamrick, a member of First Baptist Church, Livingston, has worked with children and college students for more than 50 years, serving both locally and internationally.
“At 80 she went to a closed country and taught at a school where there were no children who had ever been exposed to the gospel,” said Scotty Goldman, director of the SBOM office of global missions. “She is very diligent in praying for missionaries and in her own family has a missionary granddaughter.”
Stanford, a member of First Baptist Church, Pleasant Grove, has taught Vacation Bible School (VBS) both at her own church and in Guatemala.
“You could call her ‘Miss VBS,’” Goldman said, noting the person who nominated her for the award tallied up how many children he personally had seen her minister to and the number topped 8,000 in Guatemala alone.
Also during the SBOM report:
Messengers approved the 2018 auditor’s report of SBOM.
Messengers affirmed the special offering goals for 2020 — Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, $12,250,000; Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, $6,250,000; Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, $3 million; Myers-Mallory State Missions Offering, $1.2 million; and Global Hunger Offering, $800,000.
Leadership announced the formation of a task force to organize the SBOM’s bicentennial celebration in 2023 with Greg Corbin, pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church, Birmingham, serving as chair.
Leadership unveiled the SBOM’s updated mission statement: “The Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions ministers in partnership with our Alabama Baptist family and other Southern Baptists by seeking to obediently fulfill the Great Commission through an Acts 1:8 missional strategy.”