By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – Louisiana Baptists enjoyed fellowship and worship during the LBC Annual meeting, but also conducted important business, passing resolutions, addressing motions, approving a budget and electing leaders.
Messengers approved four consensus statements, with three offering respectively: a statement of appreciation to the Randolph Riverfront Center in Alexandria for hosting the annual meeting and to individuals who contributed in important ways to the production of the twoday event; a declaration that being transformed from sinner to believer means our “old selves have passed away” as well as our old identity with those sins; and, a call for Louisiana lawmakers “to provide legal relief for churches to allow them the freedom to share information reasonably believed to be a true allegation about an individual to prospective employers or other congregations – as a means to prevent predators from continuing to harm others.”
But the fourth stated Louisiana Baptists’ support for the proposed “Love Life Amendment,” slated to be on the statewide ballot in 2020.
The resolution gives “our strongest possible endorsement of the Love Life Amendment and the constitutional protection it affords against unilateral actions to undo prolife laws’ and urges “all eligible Louisiana Baptists to register and to vote for the Love Life Amendment and to encourage others to do likewise in order to overwhelmingly pass this 2020 ballot measure.”
The actual language of the proposed constitutional amendment reads “To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
The amendment would aim to prevent action that has taken place in 13 other states, where an activist judge on their highest courts found an inherent right to abortion in their respective constitutions.
The Louisiana Baptist Office of Public Policy is organizing a campaign to be coordinated with Associational Mission Strategists to help pastors inform their congregations about the issues and to energize members about the vote this fall.
Messengers approved the Cooperative Program budget. The 2020 financial plan is based on expected contributions of $18,653,700, a year-to-year decrease of $160,118, following three previous consecutive years of annual decreases of at least $535,000 ($693,587 in 2019, $535,426 in 2018 and $550,435 in 2017). Cooperative Program projections are based on actual receipts from August 2018 through July 2019.
The allocation formula for distributing Cooperative Program gifts remains unchanged with 63.26 percent dedicated to support ministries in the state and 36.74 percent forwarded to fund national entities.
Lloyd Whitman, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Dry Prong, submitted a motion asking Louisiana Baptists to explore ways of promoting and facilitating ministries to criminal offenders and their family members. The motion was referred to the LBC Executive Board.
Checkerz Williams, a messenger from Celebration Church in New Orleans and the church planter for the Renew Church in Baton Rouge, submitted a motion asking the LBC to allow members of church plants to register as messengers. Currently, church plants must register as messengers through the sponsoring church, which allows them voting privileges. The motion also was referred to the LBC Executive Board.
Messengers also learned about the progress made on a motion submitted during the 2018 LBC Annual Meeting by Myrt Hales, a messenger from the First Baptist Church in Rayville.
That motion, referred to the LBC Executive Board, had asked the LBC to form a committee to “explore establishing a Christianbased addiction recovery center to aid people with chemical dependencies to overcome and be redeemed into freedom from the chains of addiction and to experience the love and redemption found in Christ.”
LBC Executive Board President Waylon Bailey told messengers a task force has been formed and held its first meeting Oct. 17, with an additional meeting scheduled Dec. 5. Task force members include: Harry O. Brown, pastor, First Baptist Church, Ringgold; Willis Easley, pastor, Christ Community Church in Denham Springs; Jeffrey Friend, pastor, Suburban Baptist Church in New Orleans; Tim Hisaw, pastor, Tioga First Baptist Church; Daniel Holsomback, pastor, First Baptist Church in Pine Prairie; Michael Linton, pastor, First Baptist Church in Sulphur; and LaDelle Sandifer, laymen, First Baptist Church in Jonesville. Assisting the task force is Judge Terry Hoychick, music minister, First Baptist Church in Basile; Jeff Cook, compassion ministries strategist for Louisiana Baptists, and Steve Horn, executive director for Louisiana Baptists.
Messengers elected David Cranford, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Ponchatoula as president. He defeated Jeff Ginn, pastor of the Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, 215-172. Leroy Fountain, church health strategist for the New Orleans Baptist Association, was re-elected first vice president, and Marc Taylor, a layman from the Cook Baptist Church in Ruston, was elected second vice president. Fountain and Taylor were elected by acclamation.
The final messenger count for the 2019 Annual Meeting was 583, an increase from 535 who registered during the 2018 Annual Meeting at the Temple Baptist Church in Ruston.
The 2020 Annual Meeting is scheduled for Nov. 9-10 at the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.