Guarneri elected executive director, 2024 budget approved in September executive board meeting

by Texas Baptists Communications on September 19, 2023 in News

The September meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) Executive Board was held Sept. 18-19 in Dallas. During the meeting, the board elected Julio Guarneri, lead pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, TX, to serve as the next executive director of Texas Baptists. The board also approved the 2024 budget, elected officers and approved additional business.

Guarneri elected to serve as next executive director

During the board’s Monday session, Wendell Wright, chair of the Executive Director Search Committee, presented Guarneri to the board. He thanked the board directors for their support and shared the committee’s enthusiastic nomination of Guarneri for their consideration.

“Your committee undisputedly agrees that Dr. Julio Guarneri meets and exceeds the qualities listed in the prospectus. He is a man of humility and peace, and he has proven imperturbable as both a pastor and president,” Wright said.

Guarneri then addressed the board, extolling Texas Baptists’ history of being a mission-driven organization, noting that the Convention’s commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment overrode all differences.

“We’re diverse ethnically, diverse in background, in different geographical locations in Texas, different worship styles, different sizes, all united for the purpose of sharing Christ with this world,” he said.

He encouraged Texas Baptists to continue being mission-driven, not issue-driven, and expressed the great need for the Convention to continue working hard to reach the growing population.

During the board’s Tuesday session, Guarneri was elected to the position of executive director. An executive session was held in which board directors asked questions of the candidate and engaged in discussion, and then a ballot vote was held. The results of the vote were 55 for and 12 against.

Following his election as executive director, Guarneri submitted his resignation as president of the BGCT. Ronny Marriott and Debbie Potter assumed the roles of president and vice president, respectively, via unanimous resolution.

“I’m excited about the days ahead,” Guarneri said. “I’m joining a top notch staff team… I know that God has great things ahead for Texas Baptists and the Kingdom.”

Read the full story here.

Financial report and 2024 budget approved

Treasurer/CFO Ward Hayes presented a financial report and a proposed 2024 budget to the board during its Tuesday session. He shared that although Cooperative Program giving is down 2% compared to the previous year, expenditures are well under budget and directors have been asked to reduce non-personnel spending by 5%. The Convention’s cash position of $10.5M remains strong.

Hayes reported that house/apartment church ministries and church health specialists are growing and will continue to do so in 2024. He also noted that the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program budget for the Convention’s five main ministry centers will be 104% as compared to the prior year.

The proposed 2024 budget of $35.3 million was approved unanimously. The board also approved a recommendation to continue allocating undesignated gifts from affiliated churches at a split of 79% for BGCT and 21% for Worldwide, which is comprised of SBC and BGCT Worldwide giving options. In addition to the “Texas adopted plan,” churches continue to have the opportunity to choose all giving percentages through the “church designed” plan.

The Finance Committee proposed the allocation of the Cooperative Program Texas Worldwide Missions Initiatives and Partnerships to various missions funds, which was also approved unanimously.

Public policy update, board officers and other business

Katie Frugé, director of the Center for Cultural Engagement, and John Litzler, general counsel and director of Public Policy, gave an update detailing the Christian Life Commission’s (CLC) impact during an especially busy 2023 Texas Legislative Session.

Above all, Litzler said, the CLC seeks to show the love of Christ with those in the Austin Capitol.

“We don’t determine success solely by what laws get passed. We determine our success based on whether we’ve shown the love of Christ to the legislators in the building and if we’ve displayed Christian advocacy,” Litzler said.

Bobby Contreras, pastor of Alamo Heights Baptist Church in San Antonio, and Janice Bloom, member of First Baptist Church in Garland, were re-elected to serve as chair and vice-chair of the Board, respectively, for the 2024 term.

In other business, the board passed recommendations to revise the Singing Men of Texas and Singing Women of Texas constitutions, revise Policy 804 Equal Employment Opportunity to include religious exemptions to employment laws, secure an independent auditor, allow Valley Baptist Missions Education Center (VBMEC) to borrow an amount more than 20% of its net assets and a recommendation to allow the Convention’s corporate officers - executive director, associate executive director and CFO/treasurer - and any person holding the corporate office as an interim officer to execute documents and sign checks on behalf of the BGCT.

The following individuals were elected to fill vacancies on councils, committees and boards of affiliated ministries:

Affinity Ministries Council: Eric Anthony Brown, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, Greenville.

Chaplaincy Endorsement Council: Malcom Barrington, Fallbrook Baptist Church, Houston; David Kirk, First Baptist Church, San Antonio; David Edmonds, South Tulsa Baptist Church, Tulsa, OK; Kristen Curtis, Heritage Baptist Church, Farmville, VA.

Christian Life Commission: Abigail Rojas, Azle Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth; Brandon Skaggs, First Baptist Church, Belton; Raymond Sanchez, First Baptist Church, Weslaco; and Ryan Buck, Immanuel Baptist Church, San Angelo.

Hispanic Education Initiative Council: Olga Harris, First Baptist Church, Pharr; Rebecca Retta, First Baptist Church, Temple; Gilma Juarez, First Baptist Church, Kaufman; Sergio Ramos, Getsemani Baptist Church, Fort Worth; Jordan Villanueva, First Baptist Church, Blanket; and Nathan Escamilla, El Buen Pastor Christian Church, Fort Worth.

Institutions Audit Council: Daniel Whitehurst, First Baptist Church, Longview.

Institutional Relations Committee: Stephanie Beazley, Second Baptist Church, Corpus Christi; Betty Booth, First Baptist Church, Tyler; and Jeff Smith, Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas.

Missional Engagement Coordinating Council: Jackie Faughn, First McKinney Baptist Church, McKinney; Norberto Palmitano, Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church, Dallas; Rand Jenkins, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Mansfield; Wendell Wright, Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas.

Missions Funding Council: Nancy Jackson, First Baptist Church, Woodway; Chad Mason, First Baptist Church, Boerne; Chad Bertrand, South Park Baptist Church, Alvin; Bryan Pinson, First Baptist Church, Midland; and Edgardo Martinez, First Baptist Church, El Paso.

Theological Education Council: Jason Atchley, Hunters Glen Baptist Church, Plano; and Karen Bullock, Lakeside Baptist Church, Granbury.

Texas Baptist Mission Foundation Council: Ann Bradshaw, Tallowood Baptist Church, Houston; Ken Box, First Baptist Church, Waxahachie; Don Allen, Sugar Creek Baptist Church, Sugarland; Grady Tyroch, First Baptist Church, Temple; James Westbrook, First Baptist Church, Richardson; Robert Power, First Baptist Church, Richardson; Sam Jones, First Baptist Church, Arlington; and Merritt Johnston, First Baptist Church, Brenham.

Western Heritage Council: Wes Brown, Cowboy Church of Collin County, Princeton; Werth Mayes, Cowboy Church of Erath County, Stephenville; and Jay Johnson, San Angelo Cowboy Church, San Angelo.

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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