"It's time to repent of our complacency," Rod Masteller, convention president and pastor of Summer Grove Baptist Church in Shreveport, said.
David Hankins, the convention's executive director, warned, "It's time to conquer half-heartedness with committed and consecrated hearts." Dustie Dunn, pastor of First Baptist Church in Vivian, said during the convention sermon, "It's time to quit playing church."
D. August Boto, executive vice president and general counsel for the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, told messengers, "It's time for a great awakening founded upon the prayers of the saints to sweep our nation, and I for one would not be surprised if its epicenter were to be in this great state of Louisiana."
The annual meeting began with a solemn assembly. With speakers addressing the theme of "It's Time," many of the 787 messengers representing 282 churches from 40 of Louisiana's 41 Baptist associations responded by prostrating themselves from one end to the other of the 50-foot-wide altar.
Messengers approved without discussion a $21,539,860 budget for 2012, up $255,643 from the current year. Louisiana Baptists will continue to forward 36.49 percent -- an anticipated $7,859,895 next year -- to national and international Cooperative Program causes, as well as 50 percent of all income over the budget.
Boto thanked Louisiana Baptists for increasing their CP support during the 2010-11 fiscal year.
"In a time when more than half our Southern Baptist state conventions suffered declines, you stepped up and increased your Cooperative Program giving by more than 6 percent, and for that we thank you and thank God for you," Boto said.
Two men with long tenures in Louisiana were nominated for convention president: Waylon Bailey, pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington for 22 years, received 325 votes. Mike Walker, pastor of East Bayou Baptist Church in Lafayette for 27 years, received 247 votes. Joining Bailey were Michael Shamblin, pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church in Dry Prong, as first vice president, and Ken Fryer, pastor of College Place Baptist Church in Monroe, second vice president, both by acclamation.
Jason Lupo, pastor of Lamar Baptist Church in Delhi, presented the Louisiana annual meeting's only motion from the floor: that candidates for the office of president must be from churches that give a minimum of 7.5 percent to missions through the Cooperative Program.
Jerry Price, chairman of the order of business committee and a member of First Baptist Church in West Monroe, after consultation with the committee, said the motion would be referred to the LBC Executive Board for discussion and would be placed on the agenda for the 2012 annual meeting.
Lindsey Burns, chairman of the resolutions committee and pastor of First Baptist Church in DeRidder, presented six resolutions, each of which were approved by messengers. The first expressed "our deepest heartfelt gratitude" to those who had a part in planning and implementing the annual meeting and preceding Crossover evangelistic activities.
The others related to the New International Version of the Bible, public discourse, defense of marriage, religious liberty and the Cooperative Program 1% Challenge:
-- the NIV: Messengers resolved to "express profound disappointment with Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House for this inaccurate translation...."
-- public discourse: Messengers resolved to "strongly denounce the speech or activities of any individual or group that brings shame to the name of Christ and His Gospel...."
-- religious liberty in a global society: Messengers resolved to "restate our longstanding view that religious liberty is an inalienable human right, rooted in the image of God...."
-- the Cooperative Program 1% Challenge: Messengers resolved to "express our support for the Cooperative Program, ... challenge our churches to develop congregational goals for increased percentage giving through the Cooperative Program" and "pray for those who serve the Lord through our Cooperative Program supported ministries...."
Other business included reports from each entity -- Louisiana Baptist Children's Home, Louisiana Baptist Foundation, Louisiana College and the Baptist Message newspaper -- as well as each area of ministry: evangelism and church growth, missions and ministries and pastoral leadership. Undergirding each was the It's Time theme.
Louisiana Baptists will celebrate 200 years of ministry in 2012. "Awaken" is the rallying cry that is to start with 21 days of prayer and fasting in January, leading to the April 29 birthday.
"It's time to wake up," Masteller said during the solemn assembly. "We're allowing our children to be poisoned away from God. If we don't turn now, we might not have another time."
Next year's annual meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention will be Nov. 12-13 at First Baptist Church in West Monroe.
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
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