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Mo. Baptists welcome Yeats as exec

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
OSAGE BEACH, Mo. (BP) -- Messengers to the 177th annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention installed a new executive director, approved a $14.5 million budget and passed resolutions praising the Missouri General Assembly for passing several pro-life, pro-family bills in 2011.

John Yeats, who was elected with 92 percent of the vote by the MBC Executive Board Oct. 13, was officially installed during special ceremonies on the convention's Oct. 31-Nov. 2 sessions at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach.

MBC President John Marshall, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Springfield, led Yeats, Executive Board members and messengers in a responsive reading acknowledging God's role in Yeats' election and urging Yeats to "preach the Word." The Yeats family was introduced and Jim Wells, director of mission for the Tri-County Baptist Association and registration secretary for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), offered a dedicatory prayer.

Yeats then delivered the executive director's address in which he outlined the functions of a state convention as:

-- Sound the trumpet .

-- Strengthen churches.

-- Support pastors/servants of the local church. Yeats introduced a goal of "no church without a pastor, and no pastor without a friend."

-- Start churches.

-- Send the light to the nations.

-- Synchronize the work of the entities.

-- Shine the light in the public square.

(See accompanying BP story expanding on Yeats' message.)

The convention's $14.5 million 2012 budget, down from $15.1 million adopted last year, designates 37.25 percent for SBC causes -- up by a .25 budget percentage -- AND 62.75 percent for Missouri Baptist Convention ministries.


A goal of $3.75 million was approved for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, $2 million for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions and $250,000 for Southern Baptists' World Hunger Fund.

In other matters:

Marshall and the convention's other three MBC officers were re-elected without opposition. Danny Decker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Warsaw, had announced he would challenge Marshall for the office, but decided at the last moment not to run.

"In light of the fact that we as Missouri Baptists have a new executive director, John Yeats, and the opportunity for a new beginning in the convention, and since we are commanded in Scripture to love one another and live in peace, and since we are instructed by the truth of Scripture that we will be known in the world by how we love one another, I ask that my name not be presented as a candidate for president of the MBC," Decker said.

Wesley Hammond, pastor of First Baptist Church in Paris, was re-elected first vice president without opposition, as were Micah Fries, pastor of Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church, St. Joseph, as second vice president and Jamie Hitt, a member of First Baptist Church in Winfield, as recording secretary.

Messengers also heard several reports on mission work. The annual meeting marked the end of the MBC's five-year partnership with El Salvador in which 6,000 Missouri Baptists went to El Salvador. During that time 69 churches and 109 missions were established.


Messengers overwhelmingly approved a partnership with the Baptist Convention of Iowa beginning Jan. 1 and lasting for four years with a mutually agreed upon extension for an additional four years starting Jan. 1, 2016.

The annual convention sermon was delivered by Joshua Hedger, lead pastor and planter of Freshwater Church in Bolivar. Other speakers included Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee; Jim Shaddix, senior pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Denver; and Neil Franks, pastor of First Baptist Church in Branson.

A special offering of just over $4,000 was collected during the Nov. 1 evening session for MBC disaster relief work.

The annual meeting drew 939 registered messengers and 364 visitors for a total of 1,303 attendees from 419 MBC-affiliated churches.

The convention recognized the following Executive Board members who have reached the six-year term limit or have opted not to serve again: Monty Dunn of Spokane; James Freeman of Lee's Summit; Jody Shelenhamer of Bolivar; Gordon Voss of Middletown; and Johnnie Hall of Rolla.

Phil Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, reported that the seminary's new chapel is nearly completed, adding "we do not owe a nickel" on the construction, much of which has been completed with sweat equity, largely by volunteers and groups like Missouri Baptist Builders. Roberts asked churches to pray for -- and offer hospitality to -- each of the seminary's 1,200 students. He also said the Charles Haddon Spurgeon library will be expanded and the current chapel facility will be transformed into a replica of the original Spurgeon study.


Hammond, the MBC's first vice president and a graduate of Hannibal-LaGrange University, thanked HLGU President Woodrow Burt for his many years of service to the university, the MBC and to Christ. Burt has announced he will retire in 2012.

The convention's Agency Restoration Recovery Group (ARRG) report received overwhelming support with less than a dozen of the approximately 1,000 voting messengers opposing the report. The highlight focused on the recent Cole County Circuit Court ruling in favor of the MBC in its case against the Missouri Baptist Foundation. The foundation was one of five breakaway entities that the MBC has been attempting to retrieve since 2001-02 when trustees at the entities illegally changed their charters, making the trustee boards self-perpetuating, no longer requiring MBC approval. Members of the ARRG, were recognized for their service. Lead legal counsel Michael Whitehead was singled out for recognition and received applause from messengers for his -- and the legal team's -- work.

Messengers approved 14 new churches for affiliation with the convention and 22 others for removal after they had notified the MBC that they had either disbanded or requested to no longer be affiliated.

Kenny Qualls, pastor of First Baptist Church in Arnold, was elected to preach the convention sermon in 2012. Tim Cowin, pastor of The Rock Church in St. Louis, will serve as alternate.


Next year's meeting will be Oct. 29-31 at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis.

Don Hinkle is editor of The Pathway (, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. A video of John Yeats' message can be seen at The Pathway's website and it can be read at

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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