DALLAS–“Our power to produce good is multiplied when we go about the program that God has given us together. There are things we just can’t do by ourselves,” President Jason Burden said during his address at the February Executive Board meeting. The address came in the midst of a meeting that celebrated exciting new changes and a fruitful year of ministry in 2021.
Burden spoke from Luke 10, where he explained how Jesus sent out the disciples to minister in pairs. Working together can accomplish more than working apart, Burden said, explaining that the cooperation of the churches in the Convention ensured that more people heard the gospel and were shown Christ’s love.
New leadership and partnerships
On Monday evening, Dr. Katie Frugé was commissioned as the new director of the Center for Cultural Engagement and the Christian Life Commission (CLC). Frugé began her service with Texas Baptists in 2019 as the Hunger and Human Care Specialist. She later took on the role of associate director of the CLC. Her predecessor, Gus Reyes, and Texas Baptists Associate Executive Director Craig Christina prayed over Frugé on the platform during the opening session. Reyes, whose retirement was announced during the same session, addressed the board and expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to serve Texas Baptists.
Lorenzo Peña’s retirement was also announced during the meeting. He will continue to serve in a contract capacity on a Hispanic Education Initiative.
During the Center for Church Health’s report in the Tuesday morning session, Director Phil Miller announced the partnership of the Church Architecture team with VisionBridge Consulting. The partnership comes following the acceptance of the Voluntary Retirement Offer (VRO) by members of the former Church Architecture staff in 2020. Through this new program, VisionBridge will be able to walk with Texas Baptists churches from initial consultation to project completion.
“We love serving our churches, and our goal as your architect for the Convention is to help churches reach people for the Lord,” VisionBridge Director Mark Todd said. “We want our churches to have a master plan, to have a vision and to have dreams and goals to reach the next phase of growth.”
An initial on-site consultation is free for all Texas Baptists churches, and grants and loans are available for churches in need of additional assistance. VisionBridge Consulting is already working with 30 churches across the state.
The Collegiate Ministry Committee brought a joint recommendation with the Finance Committee to purchase a property adjacent to the Texas Southern University campus. The recommendation, which was approved, will pave the way for the first Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) building at a historically black college or university.
John Travis Smith, TBM, shared that more than 2,000 people came to know Christ through TBM ministries in 2021. Following his presentation, Smith departed the meeting to assess the impact of severe storms that moved through North Texas overnight.
Looking ahead to the future
Texas Baptists Executive Director David Hardage encouraged board members to look towards a bright future during his Monday evening report. He invited them to attend the Future Church 2030 Conference, an event designed to help churches learn today what they will need to know for tomorrow. The event will take place at First Baptist Church in Bryan on April 4-5.
“We want to begin to think about how do we most effectively do church not just in these next five to six months, but how do we most efficiently and effectively do this work that God has called us to do as a church five to six years from now,” Hardage said.
During his address, President Burden gave an update on the Millenial and Gen Z task force, which was first approved during the 2021 Annual Meeting. He noted that the first gathering of the task force will take place via a remote meeting in the coming weeks.
“I praise God that there is energy for servanthood amongst our millennials and gen zs and I want to find a way not just to bring them to the table but to send them out because we are better when we serve together,” Burden said.
The executive board also reflected on the ministry that took place over the past year.
WMU of Texas Director Tamiko Jones declared that 2021 was a “but God” year during her report. She explained that there were hardships and setbacks during 2021, “but God” made all things possible. 2021 was a record-breaking year for the Mary Hill Davis Offering, which raised $3.5 million for statewide missions. The Offering total surpassed the goal set by WMU, making 2021 the first time that the giving goal was exceeded in 22 years.
The Baptist University of the Américas (BUA) President Abraham Jaquez shared about the university’s accomplishments during the Institutional Relations Committee report. Jaquez thanked Texas Baptists for providing a $1 million loan and $500,000 gift to BUA five years ago and told board members the school became debt-free in 2021, a major milestone for the institution. In an emotional presentation, Jaquez presented Hardage with a gift in appreciation for Texas Baptists’ investment in the school.
Jaquez explained that BUA provides about 70% of the pastors at Hispanic Texas Baptists churches. As the Hispanic demographic continues to grow in Texas, Jaquez celebrated the opportunity BUA has to equip pastors to meet those needs, both through Hispanic church leadership and cross-cultural trainings.
Ward Hayes, Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer, provided an update on the financials of Texas Baptists. He celebrated the above-budget giving to the Mary Hill Davis, Lottie Moon (Southern Baptist Convention), Annie Armstrong (North American Mission Board) and Texas Baptist Hunger Offerings, echoing Jones that the past year had been a “but God” year. He shared that Cooperative Program giving was 98.6% of the prior year, but celebrated that dozens of churches had increased their giving amounts.
Hayes shared some of the financial victories that Texas Baptists had in 2021, including negotiating with Guidestone to keep health insurance premiums the same for three years and renegotiating an office lease for five years, which will save Texas Baptists over $1 million.
“We strive to be good stewards because we know that every dollar saved and every dollar earned is another dollar we can put into ministry,” Hayes said.
Additional business approved
Additional business approved included: