FLORENCE, Ky.—Messengers to the Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Florence approved a Cooperative Program budget goal of $22 million, elected the pastor of the state’s oldest Baptist church as president, denounced human trafficking and encouraged church members to consider adoption.
Meeting at Florence Baptist Church Nov. 15, messengers approved a $500,000 increase to the convention’s CP budget after Kentucky Baptist churches far exceeded projections for the previous fiscal year. Kentucky Baptists gave more than $22.3 million through the Cooperative Program and an additional $8.9 million through special offerings for state, national and international missions work.
“Increasing the CP budget goal for a second straight year is a wonderful surprise,” said KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood. “Knowing the challenges facing so many of our churches and yet to see them giving more, not less, to get the gospel to Kentucky, North America, and the nations is inspiring and humbling. We thank God for every dollar that will be given and every person who will give it.”
Year-end reports showed Cooperative Program giving totaling $1,064,362 more than the projected $21.25 million, exceeding budget goals for the first time in a decade. Actual CP contributions totaled $22,314,362, according to Lowell Ashby, leader of the KBC’s Finance and Business Services Team.
Of the $1 million increase, $494,898 will be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention; $171,404 will go to KBC agencies and institutions, and $397,536 will go to KBC Mission Board operations.
The 2017-18 budget will divide Cooperative Program receipts equally between KBC missions and ministries and Southern Baptist Convention causes, with $10.23 million being forward to the SBC after a 7 percent deduction for shared CP resourcing.
Bill Langley, senior pastor of Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, was elected as KBC president by acclamation. He was nominated by Dan Summerlin, pastor of Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah and a past KBC president.
Langley served as president of the Kentucky Baptist Pastors’ Conference, also held at Florence Baptist Church, immediately prior to the annual meeting.
“Bill’s roots grow deep in Kentucky Baptist life,” Summerlin told the Western Recorder in nominating Langley, noting that his profession of faith came as an 8-year-old at Severns Valley, where he now pastors.
In his nomination speech, Summerlin highlighted three reasons that Kentucky Baptists should elect Langley as their president: his character, his competency as a leader, and his commitment to Cooperative Program.
“Throughout the state, people respect him for modeling the Christian life,” Summerlin said. “He preaches on evangelism, and he backs it up with his lifestyle.”
Langley said that his primary goal as president would be to encourage Kentucky congregations to concentrate on evangelism and discipleship in a time of great challenges and great opportunities.
“This is not a time to ’hold the fort,’” he urged. “This is a time to advance and enlarge the kingdom.”
During Langley’s seven years at Severns Valley, more than 500 new believers have been baptized and the church has given more than $2.1 million through the Cooperative Program. The Elizabethtown congregation consistently is a state leader in CP giving, contributing more than $12 million since 1928.
“I am a strong advocate of the Cooperative Program for a very pragmatic reason: We can do much more together than we can do by ourselves,” Langley said.
A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Langley holds a master of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Louisiana Baptist University.
Serving with Langley will be Kenny Rager, of Owensboro, and Josh Landrum, of Shepherdsville.
Rager, a church planter and pastor of Life Community Church, and Landrum, pastor of of Bullitt Lick Baptist Church, both ran unopposed for first and second vice president, respectively.
Messengers focused attention on human trafficking, a $32 billion illegal industry that ensnares an estimated 27 million people worldwide, with the average girl groomed for prostitution being between 12 and 14 years old.
In a resolution, Kentucky Baptists called on law enforcement and prosecutors to do all in their power to end the atrocity of human trafficking, and for Kentucky Baptists to become educated on how to prevent it and how to minister to those victimized by it.
“This is a horrendous crime that must be addressed,” KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood stated prior to the resolution’s adoption. “Human beings should not be treated as property and used in forced prostitution or involuntary labor.”
Messengers also approved a resolution promoting foster care and encouraging church members to consider adopting children.
Noting that the state now has custody of nearly 8,000 children who have been removed from homes because of abuse or neglect and are in some type of foster care, the resolution states, “We understand we have a Christian responsibility to provide physical care to those in need and to adopt orphans as we have opportunity.”
The resolution also urges Kentucky Baptists to support Sunrise Children’s Services, a ministry of the KBC, which since 1869 has been taking care of orphans in the state.
In his annual report, Chitwood emphasized that pastors are “gatekeepers” for the Cooperative Program, playing a vital role in teaching their congregations how Southern Baptists work together to reach the state, nation and world for Christ.
“They defend CP in budget committee meetings and during business meetings,” Chitwood reminded Kentucky Baptists. “And they preach responsibility to the Great Commission for every church and every church member. Thank God for the men of God who still believe in evangelism and missions, still love the Lord and the lost, and still want to see their neighbors and the nation reached for Christ.”
Chitwood also highlighted the “sacrifice, the faithfulness, and the conviction that causes churches to continue to give to reach Kentucky, North America and the nations with the gospel.”
In other actions
— Messengers approved a guideline change, clarifying that only members of cooperating affiliated Kentucky Baptist churches are eligible to be nominated for and to serve on convention committees.
“While such an understanding has likely been assumed over the years, the committee believes the new language will remove any possible ambiguity,” Mark Maynard, chairman of the Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, explained.
The new guideline specifies: “Should at any time a committee member’s church membership cease to be in a cooperating affiliated church, the committee member will be considered as having resigned from the committee.”
— Princeton newspaper publisher Chip Hutcheson received the Integrity Award for Coverage of Faith Issues, bestowed by the KBC Communications Team.
Hutcheson, a 2012 Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame inductee, has served Princeton and its surrounding communities with news reporting since 1976. Editor of the Times Leader, Hutcheson is a former president of the National Newspaper Association and the Kentucky Press Association.
He was elected KBC president in 2013 and served as chairman of the SBC’s Committee on Nominations in 2014. A member of Southside Baptist Church in Princeton, he also has served on the board of directors of the Western Recorder and Kentucky Ethics League.
— Prestonsburg pastor Tommy Reed was chosen to preach the convention sermon when Kentucky Baptists gather at Louisville’s Highview Baptist Church next year.
Reed has served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Fitzpatrick since 2003 and is a member of the KBC Mission Board and its Missions Mobilization Committee. (WR)