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OPINION

Dissolved church's assets carry missions impact

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Members of Sandy Lake Road Baptist Church realized last spring that their mission had been fulfilled. After 45 years of ministry, they closed the church doors.
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"We knew that if God was not finished with us, He could bring a harvest ... or He could show us another option," said Randy Webb, pastor of the church in Coppell, Texas, for nearly 10 years. His grandmother was one of Sandy Lake's charter members.

When Sandy Lake indeed moved forward in selling the property to another church, a list of ministries Sandy Lake had supported or wanted to support, and the amount to be given to each, was in place.

"From the beginning of this process we wanted our assets to be distributed to ministries we had supported through the years and to further the Kingdom," Webb said.

North Texas Baptist Area (NTBA), an association of conservative Southern Baptist churches, was to receive the assets and distribute them according to the wishes of Sandy Lake's congregation.

Sandy Lake knew the association's needs and that they would use their part of the funds to impact the area by starting more churches, supporting missions and expanding ministries.

"A bittersweet occurrence has afforded us the privilege of being able to begin to do ministry that we have only dreamed of until now," said Ed Etheridge, director of missions for North Texas Baptist Area.

In November, a check for $100,000 from the association for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions was presented to International Mission Board.

The association and Sandy Lake are working together to provide gifts to several other organizations, including Criswell College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for scholarships to train pastors; the local Gideons International for Scripture distribution; and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention for disaster relief training and equipment. Funds also will be given to Living Water Baptist Church, a Korean congregation that met in the facility before it was sold.

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Webb said Sandy Lake had always been a generous and mission-minded church; however, the sale of the property and distribution of assets enabled the congregation to give more than twice as much to missions in just one gift than in all the previous years combined.

"I had hoped for a different outcome, but I had a peace about this," Webb said, "because I knew God was in it.... His timing is perfect."

Compiled by Nancy Robertson, an editor at the International Mission Board. This year's Dec. 4-11 Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention focused on the theme of "His heart, His hands, His voice -- I am Southern Baptist missions" from Acts 1:8. Each year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supplements Cooperative Program giving to support Southern Baptists' 5,000 international missionaries' initiatives in sharing the Gospel. This year's offering goal is $175 million. To find resources about the offering, go to imb.org/offering.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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