Texas Baptists messengers approve $34.59 million budget, elect new second vice president and re-elect other officers

by Bonnie Shaw on November 15, 2021 in News

GALVESTON–Two convention officers were re-elected to serve for a second term and a new second vice president was elected during the Monday morning business session at the 136th Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Monday in Galveston.

Jason Burden, pastor of First Baptist Church in Nederland, was re-elected President of Texas Baptists. Burden was nominated by Ray Meador, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Nederland.

Meador described Burden as a man of God, speaking of how Burden opened his church building for shelter and to host disaster relief workers following Hurricane Harvey.

“Not only is Jason a good pastor who lives out the life of Jesus [in his leadership]...He is also a good man of principle and purpose who has the capability of bringing people together,” Meador said.

Julio Guarneri, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, was re-elected as First Vice President. Tony Celelli, president of Stark College and Seminary in Corpus Christi, nominated Guarneri for the position. Celelli spoke of Guarneri’s 37 years of ministry and his passion for sharing the gospel around the world.

“Julio’s passion is to make disciples who make disciples, living out a holistic mission,” said Celelli.

Messengers also elected Nebiye Kelile, pastor of Pathway Church in Dallas, to serve as the Second Vice President. Kelile was nominated by Ryan Jesperson, executive director of the Dallas Baptist Association, who said of Kelile, “He is a young leader who understands what it means to be a Texas Baptists, and he is a young leader who knows what it means to bring other young leaders along as Texas Baptists. He is a young leader who I ultimately believe will bring us all together.”

All officers ran unopposed and were elected following a vote by the 974 messengers in attendance.

Clint Davis, chair of the Executive Board, gave an update on business conducted by the Executive Board during 2021. Davis highlighted two Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) property exchanges and one property acquisition; a new staff position to reach single adults in Texas; a recommendation to modify policy 525.1 in regards to sexual abuse and exploitation; and an adjustment to the ministerial retirement match program.

The 2022 budget was introduced by Ward Hayes, treasurer and CFO for Texas Baptists. He explained how the money given to the Cooperative Program was being used to help the pastors and churches of the Convention. Hayes highlighted the work of the Center for Ministerial Health, citing the financial resources, counseling and other services they offer. He also introduced the Pastor Sabbatical Grant Program, a new program designed to give pastors the financial support they need to take meaningful time for rest and renewal.

“We celebrate the incredible generosity of our God demonstrated through the generosity of our Texas Baptists churches through cooperative giving,” said Hayes.

Messengers approved the proposed 2022 Texas Baptists missions and ministry $34.59 million budget. This is a slight increase from the 2021 budget, the first such increase in decades. The percentage allotment of the adopted budget was approved to continue at 79% BGCT and 21% Worldwide, with each church selecting the recipient(s) of the Worldwide portion. The recommendation for the 2022 Texas World Missions Initiatives and Partnership Allocation was $1 million.

Chris Mclain, messenger and pastor from First Baptist Church in Bandera, submitted a motion to create a task force to study and recommend ways to increase Millennial and Generation Z involvement in Texas Baptists life and churches. The task force would report their findings and recommendations at the September 2022 Executive Board and the 2022 Annual Meeting.

A second motion was submitted by Chad Edgington, messenger and senior pastor from First Baptist Church in Olney, to amend the third bullet point of the GC2 movement statement of faith to include Jesus’ ascension.

Other business included the approval of nominations from the Committee on Committees, the Committee on Nominations for Boards of Affiliated Ministries and the Committee to Nominate Executive Board Directors.

First Vice President Julio Guarneri, River Ministry/Mexico Missions Director Mario Gonzalez, and Center for Missional Engagement Director Josue Valerio shared an update on the ministry happening along the Texas/Mexico border. Gonzalez explained that in Brownsville alone, River Ministry missionaries are serving about 2,000 people a month, meeting physical and spiritual needs.

“As Texas Baptists, we have a great opportunity to reach the world by reaching the immigrants that God is bringing to our state,” Valerio said.

Hardage recognized new and retiring presidents of some of Texas Baptists’ partner institutions. This included retiree David Parmer of Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, who will be succeeded by Justin Doss; Keith Bruce of the Baptist Health System, who will be succeeded by Matt Stone; and O.S. Hawkins of Guidestone Financial Resources, who will be succeeded by Hance Dilbeck, Jr.

The business meeting was closed by Earl Ann Bumpus, president of the WMU of Texas, who led the benediction and closing prayer.

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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