ORLANDO (FBW)—Meeting in Orlando Nov. 12-13 for the Florida Baptist State Convention, messengers elected Jacksonville pastor Tim Maynard as president, approved a $31.6 Cooperative Program budget for 2013, and looked at “What Really Matters” in exploring family, faith, relationships and legacy.
The convention drew 1,084 registered messengers and guests compared with 1,556 messengers the last time it was in Orlando—in 1999. Each year since 2006 attendance has declined noticeably.
Maynard, 58, pastor of Fruit Cove Baptist Church in Jacksonville, defeated Orlando pastor, Clayton Cloer, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Central Florida, receiving 374 or 59 percent of the 640 votes cast over Cloer’s 264 votes or 41 percent.
“I really have a heartbeat for seeing genuine unity happen in this convention,” Maynard told Florida Baptist Witness after the election.
Messengers approved a 2013 Cooperative Program budget of $31.6 million, an amount identical to the 2012 budget, and will increase giving to the Southern Baptist Convention to 41.5 percent, an increase of one percent over last year.
The increase in the SBC portion sustains a commitment by Florida Baptists to raise the percentage allocated nationally to an even 50/50 percent division of funds between the SBC and state. The budget is based on gifts from Florida Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program from June 1, 2011, to May 31, 2012.
“We are on track to be 50/50 in the next seven years,” John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, told messengers.
The $31.6 million will be divided between the SBC, 41.5 percent; Florida Baptist Convention operating budget, 46.60 percent; and Florida Baptist entities, 11.81 percent.
Affected by the economic downturn and decreased giving from the churches, since 2005, the convention has pared $10 million from its budget and downsized its staff by 58 employees, or 25 percent of its workforce.
David Uth, pastor of the host church and in his second one-year term as president, presided over the convention and delivered a president’s address [see article on this page].
Jeff Singletary, pastor of Exciting Central Tampa Baptist Church, a multi-cultural congregation in the heart of Tampa, delivered the annual convention sermon. Singletary urged Florida Baptists to contend for the Gospel in the midst of the “seismic shift” of morality in America as demonstrated by the recent Election Day results [see story on page 7].
Other convention speakers included retired Marine 1st Lt. Clebe McClary, a decorated Vietnam veteran who shared his courage and survival on the battlefield, and Cindy Winters of Maryville, Ill., widow of slain pastor Fred Winters. Marriage enrichment counselor Emerson Eggerichs led a time for couples to recommit their respect and love to each other.
Musicians included Leo Day, minister of music at Olive Baptist in Pensacola; Florida Worship Choir and Orchestra, under the direction of Terry Williams; and First Baptist Orlando Choir and Orchestra.
In the report of the State Board of Missions to the convention, Sullivan told messengers the state is “on target” with six Great Commission Resurgence recommendations approved by messengers at the 2010 Convention meeting.
“Every recommendation has been implemented or is in the process of being implemented,” Sullivan said.
Among the implemented recommendations was a spiritual renewal emphasis, “ReVision Florida”; a move toward the 50/50 percent distribution of Cooperative Program funds; and development of evangelistic pastoral leaders through increased availability of theological education.
An emphasis on church planting regionalization produced 117 new church starts in 2012, Sullivan announced. “The best calculation that we can make about planting churches is that about 20 percent of every dollar that comes through the Florida Baptist Convention goes to church planting. We are on target in planting churches in the state of Florida,” he said.
“The best partner we have in the state of Florida is the North America Mission Board. I commend Dr. Ezell for cooperating and listening … . I am thankful to God for the NAMB and for their help in planting churches,” Sullivan quipped.
Also implemented was a reorganization and regionalization of staff along convention priorities.
Sullivan credited the convention staff for the “excellent and efficient progress” made in accomplishing the goals. “Our staff has been exceptional in making adjustments and assuming additional responsibilities and maintaining relationships throughout the state.”
Maynard, completing his final year as president of the SBOM, told messengers: “Let me tell you something about Florida Baptists. I have been behind the scenes for eight years and I am more excited to be a Florida Baptist than I have ever been. I have seen what happens behind the curtain. I am so impressed with who we are.
“This convention follows Jesus Christ, nobody else,” Maynard con-tinued. “This convention sets the paradigm. This convention sets the pattern that will be followed. I believe the way that we get to 50/50 will be the way other conventions will follow.
“There are no greater missions organizations in the world than the ones we support with Cooperative Program dollars,” Maynard said.
Elected to serve with Maynard was layperson Jack Roland of Ocala First Baptist Church, first vice president; Chris Coram, associate pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church, second vice president; and Randy Huckabee, pastor of First Baptist Church of Okeechobee, recording secretary. Roland topped Kevin Goza, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Apopka. The other two officers ran unopposed.
There were no questions or dissenting votes during convention business reports and no miscellaneous business or recommendations offered by messengers.
Next year’s meeting is scheduled for Nov. 11-12 in Jacksonville at North Jacksonville Baptist Church.
Barbara Denman and James A. Smith Sr. contributed to this report.
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