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GBC Executive Committee affirms record budget, extends Moldova partnership


The Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention, presided over by chairman Wayne Hamrick, met at the Baptist Center in Atlanta Sept. 27 and approved a record Cooperative Program Budget of $50,500,000 for 2006.

Greg Carroll, chairman of the CP Budget Committee and pastor of Crossview Baptist Church in Fitzgerald, presented the budget as both challenging and realistic. The messengers to the annual state convention that meets in Columbus Nov. 14-15 must grant final approval to the proposed budget.

Glenn McCall, GBC specialist in Men's Ministries, gave a report on the Convention's Disaster Relief efforts to the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. To date our DR units have prepared and served over 484,902 meals.


Inspiring reports

Bill Townes, the director of the Georgia Baptist Conference Center in Norman Park, gave an inspiring report from "Camp Hope," a new name given to the South Georgia conference center, which has become a city of refuge to the evacuees from the wrath of hurricane Katrina.

Busloads of evacuees from Biloxi, Miss., arrived at "Camp Hope" at 3:30 one morning after Katrina had destroyed their homes and earthly possessions. When they arrived, they were hungry, tired, dirty, distraught and uncertain of the future. They were immediately fed a warm meal featuring a southern favorite, fried chicken.

"Camp Hope" provided a comfortable place for the evacuees to sleep and as well as wholesome meals and many full service amenities including family movie nights. Townes related a personal story about a little girl, Alicia, who came with her family to one of the "movie nights" and asked, "Can we have popcorn?"

Townes had made no plans to provide popcorn to the moviegoers, but replied, "We will now!"

Townes indicated that 10,000 Georgia Baptists called and volunteered to help the victims of the flood. Clothing, lodging, food, transportation and jobs have been provided. A special newspaper has been printed especially for the victims of the storm, each issue containing the plan of salvation. Couples who have been living together have gotten married. Many others have come to faith in Jesus Christ.


A hand up

"God has worked over and over again at Norman Park," added Townes. "Many of these evacuees have been herded around like cattle, but we were determined to treat them as guests. Our desire was to give these people a hand up, not a hand out."

Bill Wheeler, the director of the Georgia Baptist Conference Center in Toccoa, has now received 33 people with special needs from the hurricane affected areas and calls his Conference Center "Camp Hope North."

The Executive Committee heard an interim report from the task force designated to study the relationship of the Georgia Baptist Convention with its institutions. Fred Evers, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Tifton, presented this report. Robert Wilson, pastor of Sandtown Baptist Church in Atlanta, presented the interim report from the task force studying ethnic and African-American involvement in the ministry of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Tom Stringfellow, pastor of First Baptist Church of Beverly Hills, Calif. and president of the California Southern Baptist Convention, presented a challenge to the members of the Executive Committee and praised the partnership that exists between the two state conventions - California and Georgia.

The Executive Committee also considered and approved a motion to extend the GBC's partnership with Moldova through 2008. J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, stated, "We have a great responsibility to our own Jerusalem and Judea (Georgia), but we must also reach out to our Samaria (California and New York) as well as the uttermost parts of the earth (Moldova)."