Published March 21, 2013
Georgia Baptists see-sawed between gains and losses in 2012 but posted gains in the number of new churches added and total membership.
Interim results from the Annual Church Profile, which are not expected to vary much before being finalized, show 40 new churches boosting the total to 3,607 and 9,526 new members raising the headcount to 1,415,700. State missionary Tom Crites presented the report to Executive Committee members during the March 12 meeting.
In an overview:
► Baptisms slipped 691, or 2.40 percent, to 28,100;
► Average worship attendance dropped 4,497, or .84 percent, to 531,313;
► Sunday School enrollment was down 42,079, or 5.91 percent, to 669,511;
► Discipleship Training slipped 841, or .54 percent, to 155,625;
► Vacation Bible School was down 13,047, or 4.64 percent, to 267,891;
► Mission project participation was down 5,315, or 2.79 percent, to 185,120;
► WMU involvement slid 259, or .39 percent, to 66,637;
► Men’s Ministries grew 6,882, or 8.41 percent, to 88,754.
On the financial side Cooperative Program gifts increased $701,159, or 1.67 percent, to $42,765,877. Associational missions gifts edged up $162,297, or 1.56 percent, to $10,593,338 and State missions gifts increased $75,773, or 6.27 percent, to $1,284,179.
ACP dependent on church reporting
Crites reminded committee members that the ACP is based entirely on the number of churches reporting in any given year and is the best, if not perfect, gauge of how effective Georgia Baptists are in reaching the state for Christ.
Steve Parr, vice president of staff coordination and development for the 5 Smooth Stones strategy, updated committee members on how state missionaries are being trained and deployed to equip churches in missions, evangelism, and church planting. He said bringing greater resources to churches will result in congregations better equipped in outreach and evangelism in coming months and years.
Such efforts should boost future ACP figures, which are the leading indicators of the health of the convention’s congregations.
In discussing the Cooperative Program report year-to-date, White said February receipts were down $260,784, or 4.60 percent. Part of that decline could be attributed to January being a five-Sunday month with resulting higher income. March, which is currently on pace with March 2012, will also be a five-Sunday month income. March, which is currently on pace with March 2012, will also be a five-Sunday month that should make up some of the decline.
‘The Wounded Pastor’
Convention President John Waters introduced a new personal effort called “The Wounded Pastor.” Beginning March 25, the telephone call-in ministry will feature real-time 20-minute interviews “with a pastor who is experiencing pain and difficulty in his ministry.”
Waters said the ministry will be an opportunity for pastors to build a stronger support network among themselves. Ministers desiring to participate are invited to call (267) 507-0240 and enter access code 210692.
The Statesboro pastor also encouraged Georgia Baptists to begin exploring their level of participation in providing 20,000 filled backpacks for Appalachian Regional Ministries. The items will be collected during the Nov. 10-12 annual convention at Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula and at other locations to be announced.
Last year 4,400 backpacks were collected through a WMU/ARM/Associational Missions office effort. That will be expanded this year to the annual meeting.
Waters also noted the theme of the annual meeting will be “Busy with the Father’s Business” and will be based on Luke 2:49. More details are available at connectGBC.com.
MLK Jr. holiday add to calendar
In other business the policy-making body added the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to the convention calendar, in keeping with following the SBC calendar and practice. Last year during their March 8, 2012 meeting, the SBC Executive Committee added the observance to its holiday schedule with the resulting building closing.
Members also approved Truett-McConnell College’s request to grant a mortgage on its property to secure the renewal and modification of its $2.5 million line of credit with BB&T Bank, and gave the college a final gift of land which had begun in 2009. Last year’s grant was delayed until this year based on a request from the college.
Members also approved the renewal of a short-term loan, related to the construction of the Baptist Missions and Ministry Center, with SunTrust Bank. The building was constructed in 2006 for $43.5 million and currently has a balance of $23 million.
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