Churchnet — also known as the Baptist General Convention of Missouri — elected officers, heard updates on its partnership with Guatemala, recognized retiring staff and trustees completing their service, among other business, during its annual gathering April 15-16 at First Baptist Church of Lee’s Summit, Mo.
During the first of two worship sessions, Executive Director Jim Hill in his annual report called on listeners to engage the future through missional collaboration, the theme of the gathering.
Missional collaboration is the first of four primary goals of the Vision 2020 strategic plan approved at last year’s gathering.
“The church is not primarily about us but about God’s mission,” Hill said. “Missions should not be about one church program among many but the church’s core identity as witnesses sent by God into the world.”
Quoting the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:9, Hill said, “Paul says, ‘All who serve in the field in Corinth are fellow workers for God.’ They are not competitors but allies. We are fellow laborers with God, or we labor together in the work of God.
“God is doing something in our world,” he concluded. “He has invited us into his mission, and he has invited us ‘together.’ I pray we will have the courage to allow him to bring us together that we might become co-laborers in his mission.”
During the organization’s business session, attendees elected as its president Forestal Lawton, director of church operations, Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo.; vice president, Brian Ford, pastor, Little Bonne Femme Baptist Church, Columbia, Mo.; and secretary, Amanda Evens, project director, Blue Duck Marketing, Bolivar, Mo.
Hill recognized outgoing officers President Donna Potts, Vice President Forestal Lawton and Secretary Melody Pryor and retiring staff team leaders Verlyn Bergen, resources and relationships; Bob Perry, congregational health; and Jeanie McGowan, leadership development.
Samuel C. Tolbert Jr., pastor of Greater St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church, Lake Charles, La., and president, National Baptist Convention of America International, urged attendees in the opening session message to follow the advice of Psalms 37:4-5 and trust in God, delight in him, commit their problems to him and rest in him.
“Once I give my problems to him, I leave them with him,” he emphasized.
In the closing message, Otto Echeverria, pastor, Coatepeque, Guatemala, and president, Guatemala Baptist Convention, explored the grace of God in giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
Grace helps believers be generous and to overcome obstacles, he said. In addition, “Paul saw the joy of the believers in Macedonia when they gave.
“Giving illustrates we are devoted to the Lord,” he concluded. “How much should we give? Give generously.”
The choirs from Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church and the host church led worship music in each of the plenary sessions.
During the annual missions banquet, with a meal provided by William Jewell College, attendees heard a report from Carol Bercian, founder and director of Tabitha Ministry in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
She described ministries and experiences in ministering to people who live in the massive city dump, especially children who attend school classes offered by the ministry.
Attendees also participated in workshop sessions on a variety of topics, including how one church is helping to provide an option to predatory loans, preparing for cross-cultural mission trips, the church as a healing force between citizens and law enforcement, addressing world hunger, Millennials and creating international partnerships.