ORLANDO (FBC)—A report on the planting of 117 new churches across the state and the hiring of two persons to fill board–elected positions topped the agenda of the State Board of Missions pre-convention meeting Nov. 12 at First Baptist Church in Orlando.
The 117 new church plants represent 10 cultural, ethnic and language groups—Anglo 41; African-American, 16; Hispanic, 27; Haitian, 27, and one each of a Korean, Japanese, Thai, Zomi, Asian-Indian and Arabic church.
SBM president Tim Maynard said the report “is something all Florida Baptists should get excited about” asking board members if they could recall the birth of their children and grandchildren.
“This is a neat picture of who we are as Florida Baptists and how we are spreading across the state reaching ethnic communities,” Maynard said. “Every expression of church planting is seeing fruit here.”
John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, reminded the Board that 117 new churches were planted “even with reduced staff. I think that is absolutely amazing.”
The churches, planted between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012, were endorsed by local Baptist associations.
The Board elected John Holloway of Longwood as the team strategist of the Partnership Mission Team, effective Jan. 1, 2013; and Roger Felipe of Naples in the newly created position of associate team strategist of Theological Education Ministries, effective immediately.
Holloway, 61, will assume the position left vacant with the resignation of Dennis Wilbanks, who was named administrative pastor of First Baptist Church in Aurantia. Since 1999, Holloway has served as executive associate pastor/administration and missions at First Baptist Church Sweetwater in Longwood.
Prior to that, the Alabama native served in churches in his home state, Kentucky and Georgia. He holds the master of divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, 1979; and the doctor of ministry degree from Trinity Theological Seminary in Edinburgh, Ind., 2004.
During the past six years, Holloway has participated in Florida Baptist-sponsored mission trips in Haiti, which included trip planning, leading vision trips, participating in disaster relief and teaching theological training classes. He also had been involved in Florida Baptists’ partnership in Cuba.
Felipe, a native of Cuba, has served as pastor of both Anglo and Hispanic congregations in his ministry. He currently serves as the assistant pastor of First Baptist Church in Marco Island, Naples campus, and in different positions with the church since 2007, including as pastor of the Hispanic congregation, Iglesia la Familia. Prior to that, he served on the staff at Coral Park Baptist Church in Miami.
From 2006 to 2008, Felipe was director of training for Evangelical Divinity School, Florida Programs, and adjunct professor with New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 2004-2005.
In other business, the Board approved to spend up to $25,000 to monitor legislation being considered by the State of Florida Legislature for 2013, which will include a $20,000 contribution to the Florida Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, under the direction of former Convention employee Bill Bunkley, and legislative monitoring provided by Public Policy Associates in Tallahassee.
Sullivan also shared with the Board a report from members on their contact of 661 Florida Baptist congregations that are not contributing through the Cooperative Program. Members were asked in May to begin contacting the non-contributing churches in their own association.
To date, Sullivan noted, 187 churches have been contacted but few have said they have “any inclination” to begin giving, he said, calling it the “most discouraging report” in his 57 years of ministry.
Spike Hogan of Jacksonville asked Sullivan, “What point in time” the non-contributing churches will disengage with the Florida Baptist Convention. The executive director responded that a strategy will need to be developed on the best way to handle the process.
In the post-convention meeting, the Board elected a slate of officers for 2013: Marvin Pittman, a layman from First Baptist Church in Bartow, president; James Peoples, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Keystone Heights, vice president; and Darin Kress, pastor of Scott Lake Baptist Church in Lakeland, recording secretary.
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