February Executive Board: From mission field to mission force

by Texas Baptists Communications on February 21, 2024 in News

DALLAS—The Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board heard remarks from Executive Director Julio Guarneri and convention President Ronny Marriott, reports from Texas Baptists ministries and ministry partners, and passed a handful of recommendations during its February 19-20 meeting in Dallas, TX.

Trust in the ability of the overcomer

In his Monday evening address, Julio Guarneri spoke of trust in God, a renewed cross-cultural witness and a rallying of kingdom partnerships.

Considering a new season of ministry for Texas Baptists, Guarneri drew on an illustration of the Israelites approaching the promised land.

Speaking from Numbers 13:21-24 and subsequent verses, Guarneri spoke of the various ways God’s people respond to his invitation for his mission.

Some focus on the size of the obstacles, some distort the notion of old times and some trust in the ability of the overcomer, Guarneri said.

“If the Lord is with us, it doesn’t matter how many giants are in the land,” he said.

“Faith doesn’t constitute denial; it calls for trust in overcoming. Our call as Texas Baptists is to occupy the land…to saturate our state with the gospel. We are called not just to see our state as a mission field, but to continue to see our state as a mission force.”

Read the full recap here.

Radical hospitality for a ‘Romans 1 world’

Ronny Marriott, BGCT President and pastor of First Baptist Church Burleson, delivered a challenge to directors during his Tuesday remarks.

He implored attendees to change their methods, not their message, and practice radical hospitality to reach the lost in a rapidly changing world.

“I think we need to ask God to break our hearts for the things that break his,” he said.

Treating those with whom we disagree with lovingkindness and radical hospitality is what we are called to do, he said.

“This is how we are going to win an unbelieving world. It’s what Jesus did. It’s what we’re supposed to do,” said Marriott.

“I truly believe that the church is the hope of the world. We are the only group that God commissioned to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We are the hope of the world. I hope we don’t forget that.”

Read the full recap here.

Educating new generations about Cooperative Program

Ward Hayes, CFO/treasurer, delivered a financial update. Within the statement of financial position, endowments and investments were up $13M at the close of 2023 for a total of $232M.

The statement of operations showed BGCT Cooperative Program giving declined to 97.6% of the prior year’s giving, which was 97.1% of the budget. In response to the decline, Hayes noted the next generation must be educated about the Cooperative Program (CP).

“We have an incredible story to tell,” he said. “We have to tell that over and over so that we can continue to educate the new generations about all that God is doing.”

Hayes noted that investment income totaling $10.6M and strong stewardship resulting in net expenditures $3M under budget helped to offset declines in CP giving in 2023.

“God has provided for us in new and different ways, and praise be to him,” said Hayes.

‘Our concern’ the local churches in Texas

At the close of Tuesday’s business session, Guarneri responded to a question from Steve Bezner, Executive Board director from sector 19-22 and senior pastor of Houston Northwest Church in Houston, TX, regarding the potential passage of an amendment related to the role of women in ministry at the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.

“We have not had formal conversations,” said Guarneri. “We stand firm on recognizing that is an issue of local church autonomy. For us, whether a church has women pastors is not a test of fellowship.”

“We exist to serve our churches,” he said. “We don’t exist to serve the Southern Baptist Convention. If our churches choose to cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention, we will respect that. If they choose not to do it, we will respect that.”

“Our concern, our responsibility, our commitment is to the local churches in Texas,” said Guarneri. “What that means…how we need to respond and serve those churches are conversations we still need to have.”

Guarneri invited Executive Board directors to provide their comments and insights in the days ahead.

“We have some conversations…a lot of praying to do for the sake of the kingdom,” he said.

Additional business

The following recommendations passed unanimously:

  • The Committee on Committees brought a recommendation to nominate the following individuals to the Committee to Nominate Executive Board Directors for the 2026 term: Jeff Scott, Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, Dallas, TX; Darin Wood, First Baptist Church, Midland, TX.

  • The Committee on Committees brought a recommendation to nominate the following individuals to the Committee to Nominate Boards of Affiliated Ministries for the 2026 term: Scott Curry, First Baptist Church, Gruver, TX; Shawn Shannon, Tallowood Baptist Church, Houston, TX.

  • The Committee to Nominate Executive Board Directors brought a recommendation to elect the following Executive Board Directors: Sector 9-11, Jeffrey Warren, Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas, TX; Sector 25, Raymond Sanchez, First Baptist Church Weslaco, TX.

  • The Committee on Nominations for Boards of Affiliated Ministries brought a recommendation to nominate the following individual to the Baptist University of the Americas Board of Trustees for the 2025 term: Steve Mullen First Baptist Church, Burleson, TX.

  • The Finance Committee brought a recommendation to allocate 2024 JK Wadley Endowment Fund Earnings in the amount of $425,000 as follows: BSM Campus Missionaries, $150,000; BSM Building Maintenance, $150,000; Missionary to Muslims, $50,000; Western Heritage, $50,000; MinistrySafe, $25,000.

Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.

The ministry of the convention is made possible by giving through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Mary Hill Davis Offering® for Texas Missions, Texas Baptists Worldwide and Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Thank you for your faithful and generous support.

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