The February 2021 Executive Board meeting was altered to accommodate weather-related emergencies from Winter Storms Uri and Violet. The format of the meeting, which was already scheduled to be virtual due to COVID-19, was changed to include pre-recorded video updates made available to board members. Committee meetings took place across a weeklong period, and voting took place over a period of 5 days and was limited to items that were absolutely necessary, with the rest of the business recommendations being postponed until the May Executive Board Meeting.
David Hardage, executive director of Texas Baptists, thanked the Executive Board members for taking time out of their lives to serve the convention. He also thanked them for their flexibility as the board adapted to the winter storm’s effects.
“We love you, we care for you, and we’re grateful that you’re willing to serve,” he said.
A large number of new staff have joined Texas Baptists, Hardage explained, due to the Voluntary Retirement Offer (VRO) that was presented in 2020. He expressed his excitement for these new employees as they go out across the state and begin their new ministries.
“God just really brought us some wonderful folks to serve with, to walk alongside with, and they’re already out and about and active, and we’re encouraged by that,” Hardage said.
Hardage also honored two former Executive Board directors who passed away, Patty Jones, member of the mission funding group; and Dan Ho, senior pastor of Chinese Baptist Church in Houston and former board member.
Finances and Cooperative Program updates
Ward Hayes, Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer, provided an update on the Cooperative Program. He said that giving was at 98.8% compared to the prior year, and he explained that was a strong number, especially in view of the pandemic. Texas received $27.2 million in 2020. Gifts to the Southern Baptist Convention totaled $10 million, a decrease from $10.2 million in 2019. Texas Worldwide gifts remained consistent at $1.1 million. Hayes also announced that, though individual investments were down, they were recovering, and the unrealized gains and increase in market value of overall investments is up by $9.6 million.
The convention’s total expenditures are $875,000 under budget. Hayes also reported that the voluntary retirement offer in July 2020 made a $900,000 impact on the convention’s budget.
Hayes also gave an update on the sale of the University of Texas Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) building, which created an endowment of $4.1 million after repurchasing BSM space and buildout construction costs. Its earnings will support BSM maintenance at the University of Texas and across the state.
Online giving has also significantly increased, with over two thousand new donors giving online in 2020. The amount of online giving was doubled in 2020 from 2019, and in January 2021, online gifts were 183% of what they had been in January 2020. This reflects the pandemic’s impact on giving Hayes explained, and he expressed his excitement about the new donors and connections.
Other business approved
Three recommendations were brought before the board:
A recommendation to elect an Executive Board Director was brought from the Committee to Nominate Executive Board Directors and the Executive Committee. The vacancy was filled by Jaime Silguero, a layperson from Crestview Baptist Church in Georgetown, serving Sector 27.
A recommendation to re-elect Baylor University Regent René Maciel for the 2024 term. This recommendation was from the Committee to Nominate Boards of Affiliated Ministries and the Executive Committee. Maciel is the Missions and Community Outreach Pastor of First Woodway Baptist Church.
A recommendation to consolidate three Antilley endowment funds to create the Ralph O. & Katie L. Antilley Endowment fund to support State missions. This recommendation is from the Finance Committee and the Executive Committee.
The three recommendations were passed unanimously via electronic voting.
The next meeting of the Executive Board is scheduled to take place May 24-25 in Dallas. It will be a hybrid meeting with in-person and virtual options to accommodate those who are hesitant or unable to travel. The board plans to meet at East Texas Baptist University in May 2022.