By Bill Webb
The Baptist General Convention of Missouri authorized interim executive director Jim Hill and president Bill Miller to explore the development of various relationships, including one with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri, another with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and its missions subsidiary, WorldConnex, and another with Ministry Connect, a Missouri consulting ministry.
The board also voted to make a contribution of $1,200 to the Baptist World Alliance to express its support of the organization, which is being defunded by the Southern Baptist Convention.
The board approved the recommendation of its Baptist agencies and organizations committee to allow its leaders to explore "a working relationship" with CBF of Missouri "that would strengthen Baptist work in Missouri and facilitate ministry to Missouri churches."
"Both organizations [BGCM and CBF of Missouri] exist to serve Baptists in Missouri," Hill told the board. "In many cases, we serve the same Baptists. I think we ought to have some kind of working relationship where we are not seen as competitors.
"That does not mean we agree on everything," he said. "Where we can, we would like to cooperate for the sake of churches and the kingdom of God."
Hill said a recent dialogue between leaders of the two organizations - set up at the initiative of CBF-Missouri leaders - was positive. He and Miller are to report back to the board with specific recommendations for working together.
The board voted to sponsor a Sunday School training tour Nov. 15-18 in cooperation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which will provide the facilitators, and invite CBF of Missouri to participate. The events will be held Nov. 15 at Memorial Baptist Church, Columbia; Nov. 16 at First Baptist Church, Farmington; and Nov. 17 at Wyatt Park Baptist Church, St. Joseph.
A relationship with WorldConnex, the BGCT missions subsidiary, could dovetail with the Missouri convention's "Go Ye Therefore Volunteers (GYTV) missions program to link volunteers and missions service opportunities.
Hill described WorldConnex as a mission-sending organization, but that it is not intended to compete with the two Southern Baptist mission boards.
The interim executive director will explore a formalized partnership with ministry Connect - developed by longtime Missouri Baptist Convention consultants Roger Hatfield and Verlyn Bergen - to provide services to congregations seeking resources for search committees.
Such a partnership could supplement the establishment of a BGCM network for sharing needs and opportunities, and securing church staff recommendations.
The $1,200 gift to the Baptist World Alliance will be paid at the rate of $100 per month as a way of showing support for BWA and its 100-plus member bodies around the world.
At the request of its public relations committee, the board authorized Hill to plan, coordinate and lead a BGCM-sponsored trip to the BWA Centenary Congress July 27-31, 2005, in Birmingham, England.
The organization will promote the trip but will not otherwise use funds to pay for the trip.
In other action, the board:
-- Learned that the convention's share of Cooperative Program gifts for July - the first month in the fiscal year - totaled $45,547, or $12,214 over goal.
-- Authorized the establishment of a Missouri church planting network for church planters, mission pastors, sponsoring churches and others interested in planting churches for support, dialogue, training, fellowship and strategy development.
-- Authorized $2,000 to enable BGCM to co-sponsor a Purpose Driven Ministry Conference Oct. 18-20 at Windermere Baptist Conference Center.
-- Agreed to reschedule an evangelism training event set for Oct. 15-16 at Windermere at a date to be determined in February 2005.
-- Voted to contribute the balance (less than $1,000) needed to complete a $10,000 commitment for the China mission project launched during the BGCM annual meeting last spring.
-- Voted to expand use of the BGCM special page in Word&Way from once a month to twice a month.
-- Approved expansion of the BGCM Web site - www.baptistgcm.org - to include an expanded mission volunteer section at a cost not to exceed $4,000. The project will include upgrades to other areas of the site.
-- Voted that receipts from January to June for the state mission offering be added to the 2004-2005 offering. The move was made necessary because the organization changed its fiscal year from Jan. 1-Dec. 31 to July 1-June 30.