“When we serve as the vital link between our predecessors and our progeny, we are honoring our mission to continue telling the story,” said Jason Burden, president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) to the Executive Board members at the September 2022 board meeting.
During his presidential address, Burden encouraged Texas Baptists to continue passing along the story of the gospel and of Baptist life to the generations to come. He encouraged attendees to continue pressing on for the advancement of the gospel and to pass on the Lord’s blessings to the next generation.
In addition to Burden’s address, the board also heard updates from the Millenial/Gen Z Task Force and Executive Director Search Committee, honored Executive Director David Hardage for his faithful service to Texas Baptists and looked ahead to 2023, approving the budget and other business.
Reports and recognition
David Mahfouz, pastor of First Baptist Church of Warren and chair of the Executive Director Search Committee, brought a report on behalf of the committee. The search committee's first meeting took place on Aug. 28, and they are entering into a season of prayer. In November, they will host a series of listening sessions, including one at the Annual Meeting, to best assess the needs of the Convention to create a profile for the position before opening the application up for resumes in early 2023.
“I am convinced that God is going to lead us in the days ahead, and we are going to discover the individual He is preparing even now to take on this leadership role,” Mahfouz said.
The Executive Board also took time to honor Hardage, who has served as executive director for 11 years. In honor of his service to the Convention, “Run With It,” an annual virtual 5k, was named in his honor, and will now be known as the “David W. Hardage Run With It Virtual Run, Walk and Roll.” This year, the event will take place in early December, and proceeds will benefit the David and Kathleen Hardage Endowment Fund at Baylor University Baptist Student Ministry.
“Dr. Hardage is a true peacemaker and bridge-builder,” Associate Executive Director Craig Christina said. “He has led us to be clear on our core convictions … and he has led us to intentionally share Christ and show love.”
Hardage addressed the Board on Monday evening, expressing his thanks to the BGCT for allowing him to serve and to his wife, Kathleen, for supporting his ministry.
“I’m honored to have served Texas Baptists,” he said. “I will always be a Texas Baptist, and I just want to say thank you for giving me the privilege and the honor of serving.”
Scotty Swingler, associate pastor of students at Sugar Land Baptist Church, and Chris McLain, pastor at First Baptist Church of Bandera, brought a report from the Millenial/Gen Z Task Force. The task force was formed during the 2021 Annual Meeting to study and recommend ways to increase millennial and Generation Z involvement in Texas Baptists life and churches.
Swingler shared that the task force is focusing its research on “emerging adults,” or those in their 20s and 30s. In order for the BGCT to continue doing powerful ministry, they must invest in passing the mantle well, Swingler explained.
“A significant investment into millennial and Gen Z might just be the way forward, so that Texas Baptists remains strong and effective during the years to come,” he said.
McLain, who presented the motion that created the task force during the 2021 Annual Meeting, presented four themes the team is focusing on: inviting emerging adults to the table, sharing the story of the Convention, organizational innovation and spiritual growth.
McLain pointed to Leadership Texas Baptists, a nine-month program for young pastors, staff and lay leaders to be engaged, equipped and informed, as one example of how Texas Baptists is already seeking to meet these challenges and encouraged the BGCT to continue creatively engaging the younger generations.
He emphasized that the task force is also focused on engaging millennials and Gen Z at the local church level.
“The task force's purpose is not simply focused on our convention work at a state level. The heartbeat of this is to serve there and also to equip and help our churches do this well,” McLain said.
The task force plans to present its findings and recommendations at the 2022 Annual Meeting on Nov. 13-15 in Waco, Texas.
Budget, board chairs and other business approved
Business was also approved during the meeting, including the proposed 2023 budget of $35.5 million. The board approved a recommendation to continue allocating undesignated gifts from affiliated churches at a split of 79% for Texas Baptists and 21% for Texas Baptists Worldwide, with each church selecting the recipient of its Worldwide giving. The budget will be presented at the upcoming Annual Meeting for approval.
Board members elected Bobby Contreras, current Executive Board vice chair and pastor of Alamo Heights Baptist Church in San Antonio, to serve as chair in 2023. Janice Bloom, current board representative of Sectors 9-11 and member of First Baptist Church of Garland, was elected to serve as the vice chair.
The Institutional Relations Committee presented a recommendation to enter into a special relationship with Denison Ministries. Through this written special agreement, Jim Denison will serve as the theologian in residence for Texas Baptists, and the Denison staff will provide consultations on cultural changes and trainings for churches and Texas Baptists staff. Texas Baptists will invite Denison employees to speak at events and provide an Annual Meeting booth for the organization. This recommendation will also be presented to the messengers at the 2022 Annual Meeting.
In other business, the following individuals were elected to fill vacancies on councils, committees and boards of affiliated ministries:
- Affinity Ministries Council: Rolando Aguirre, Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas.
- Baptist History and Distinctives Council: Sharon Darwin, First Baptist Church, Dallas;
- Ed Rogers, First Baptist Church, Georgetown; David Mahfouz, First Baptist Church, Warren; and Jordan McKinney, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Cedar Hill.
- Baptist Student Ministry Council: John Gerlach, Crestview Baptist Church, Midland; Lon Graham, The Woods Baptist Church, Tyler; Jeremiah Smith, University Baptist Church, Fort Worth; and Andrew Bedo, Oak Ridge Baptist Church, San Antonio.
- Chaplaincy Endorsement Council: David Cross, First Baptist Church, Lumberton; Gary Patterson, Berean Baptist Church, San Antonio; Judy Collins, The Crossing, Mesquite; and Richard Brown, Bonsack Baptist Church, Roanoke, Virginia.
- Christian Life Commission: Erica Currie, Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, Abilene; Laura Rodriguez, Erez Church, Greenville; and Tedrick Woods, Living Word Fellowship Church, Dallas.
- GC2 Press Advisory Council: Joshua Hays, First Baptist Church, Waco; and Davey Gibson, Sugar Land Baptist Church, Sugar Land.
- Institutions Audit Council: Mike Figer, Woodlawn Baptist Church, Austin; and Lane Northcut, Woodlawn Baptist Church, Austin.
- Missions Funding Council: Clint Davis, First Baptist Church, Mount Pleasant; Joseph Adams, First Baptist Church, Hughes Springs; and Joe Fields, New Beginnings Church, Lewisville.
- Texas Baptist Missions Foundation Council: Sam Jones, First Baptist Church, Arlington; Joel Allison, First Baptist Church, Waco; Bill Brian, First Baptist Church, Amarillo; Ed Dyer, Tallowood Baptist Church, Houston; D.M. Edwards, First Baptist Church, Tyler; Buster Snellgrove, First Baptist Church, O’Donnell; Charles Whiteside, First Baptist Church, Kilgore; and Bill Bevill, First Baptist Church, Corpus Christi.
- Theological Education Council: John Hall, Field Street Baptist Church, Cleburne.
- Western Heritage Council: Bryan Miller, 3C Cowboy Fellowship, Salado; and Tuffy Williams, Bowie County Cowboy Church, De Kalb.