LEXINGTON, Ky. (BP)--Messengers to the 173rd annual meeting of the Kentucky Baptist Convention adopted a plan to better reach the nations for Christ and honored an executive director nearing the end of his tenure.
Kentucky Baptists embarked on a new course that eventually will lead the convention to an equitable division of Cooperative Program funds between state and Southern Baptist causes.
After nearly an hour of discussion, the report of the Great Commission Task Force containing four key recommendations was passed by nearly two-thirds of messengers Nov. 16 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky. -- but not without some last-minute adjustments.
Delivering the report on behalf of the task force, chairman Hershael York, pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort and a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor, announced significant changes to the task force's second proposal.
In it, the group originally called for the KBC to move to a reallocation of Cooperative Program funds to an even 50/50 allocation between Kentucky Baptist and Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministry causes within seven years.
That target date was extended by three years, aiming now for an even split by the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The change "gives a little more wiggle room, a little more time to strategize and flesh out exactly what this would mean," York told messengers.
The task force amended the report's proposal No. 2 even further, decreasing the required across-the-board budget cuts for the KBC and its partnering entities, institutions and auxiliary from 6 percent to 5 percent.
In addition, the extra 7 percent deduction for the convention's two liberal arts colleges -- Campbellsville University and University of the Cumberlands -- was dropped to 6 percent, resulting in an approximate 11 percent overall budget reduction instead of the initial 12.58 percent.
The rest of proposal No. 2 was unchanged, including the elimination of the KBC's contribution to the annuities of pastors and church staff members (approximately $400,000) and a reduction of Mission Board staff by 12 percent.
Proposal No. 2 dominated most of the Great Commission Task Force conversation since the report's release in August, York noted.
That amount of attention was a "major disappointment to this task force, because we really see it as, by far, the less important between proposals No. 1 and 2," he said.
Proposal No. 1 is the three-year "More for Christ" emphasis, described in the GCTF report as "an intentional time of repentance, renewal and redirection for the future" of the KBC.
Proposal No. 3, meanwhile, urges all Kentucky Baptist churches to increase their Cooperative Program giving by at least 0.25 percent of undesignated receipts per year, which would result in a 3 percent bump in convention-wide CP gifts annually.
With the passage of the national Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report in June, the International Mission Board stands to receive 51 percent of the SBC's Cooperative Program funds. With a 50/50 allocation plan in place and the fulfillment of proposal No. 3, Kentucky Baptists would contribute as much as $12 million more to the international mission field, York said.
"That's a lot more missionaries on the field," he said.
Proposal No. 4 allows for the Great Commission Task Force to remain in place and report to KBC messengers each year over the next decade.
During a time of open debate, a handful of messengers spoke both for and against the task force's report. One messenger proposed a substitute motion, while another sought to amend proposal No. 2. Both motions were soundly rejected.
The Great Commission Task Force's last-minute changes created a dilemma for the proposed 2011-12 budget that was to be presented to KBC messengers.
Following the report's adoption, York presented a substitute budget for consideration which was accepted as a friendly amendment by KBC President Don Mathis, who presided over the session.
KBC messengers approved the $23.5 million budget which calls for 52.46 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to be distributed to Kentucky Baptist causes and 43.54 percent to go to Southern Baptist missions and ministries.
The budget also includes a "More for Christ" challenge that assumes 3 percent growth in Cooperative Program receipts in 2011-12 -- an additional $705,000. Of that money, 66.9 percent would be allocated to the SBC, 33.1 percent to the KBC. The remaining 4 percent would be counted as shared administrative expenses between the conventions.
Factoring in the "More for Christ" targets, the total CP goal for 2011-12 is $24,205,000, 51.86 of which would stay in the state, 44.14 percent of which would go to the SBC.
The much-discussed Great Commission report likely precipitated a significant bump in the messenger count for this year's meeting. With 1,185 messengers registered, it was the first time since 2006 that KBC registration reached four figures.
Many of those messengers were on hand to honor longtime KBC executive director Bill Mackey, who will retire May 31, 2011.
To show their appreciation for his nearly 13 years leading the convention, messengers approved a resolution of commendation for Mackey and his wife Kay. Kentucky Baptists also voted to dedicate the 2010 KBC Annual publication to the Mackeys.
In other business, messengers elected Floyd Paris as their new president. The pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Ashland was selected over Butch Tanner, pastor of Richmond's Red House Baptist Church. It was the first contested election for a KBC officer's post in three years.
Next year's annual meeting of the Kentucky Baptist Convention will be Nov. 15 at Florence (Ky.) Baptist Church at Mount Zion.
Drew Nichter is news director for the Western Recorder, newsjournal for Kentucky Baptists.
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