“We have played and danced with this issue rather than lamenting and mourning before the Lord,” said Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, during the Nov. 11 opening session.
“But tonight, we are not divided, we are not segregated, we are a family and we come as one,” said Green,
“Tonight, the world around us declares division and hatred,” said Green. “Tonight, we declare in the name of Jesus Christ unity and love. Tonight, we will change the national conversation and make the gospel of Jesus Christ the primary focus as we come together with different faces and races.”
Only a little while earlier, those in attendance representing numerous nationalities and races gathered arm-in-arm in prayer to ask for God’s blessings on the state’s pastors and wives, churches, veterans and nations, and the lostness of the world.
Green asked those in attendance to recite Psalm 133:1-3 aloud and in unison in each of their own heart languages. “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,” they recounted.
The meeting drew 2,241 persons–1,180 messengers and 1,061 visitors–representing 531 Florida Baptist churches.
FBSC president Erik Cummings, pastor of the New Life Baptist Church in Carol City, was unanimously reelected to a second term as FBSC president after his nomination by Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater. No other person was nominated.
Following his election, Cummings received a standing ovation from those in attendance.
In his Presidential Address, Cummings sounded a clarion call for unity for the purpose of reaching the world for Jesus Christ. “If we are to reach our “one” person for Christ, we have to be one within these walls,” said Erik Cummings referring to the North American Mission Board’s evangelistic initiative, “Who’s Your One.” “There is power in being united.”
Cummings has served the Miami-area congregation for the past 17 years and was president of the 2017 Florida Baptist Pastors Conference. He also served as secretary and parliamentarian of the SBC’s National African American Fellowship, as well as moderator for the Miami Baptist Association.
He will serve alongside Mike Wiggins, pastor of Pine Terrace Baptist Church in Milton, who was reelected to a second term as first vice present; Vanessa Rodriguez-Cardona, a real estate agent and wife of bivocational pastor Jose Cardona of Templo Biblico Bautista in Winter Garden, second vice-president; and Randy Huckabee, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dade City, reelected as recording secretary.
Other speakers during the two-day event were J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh, N.C., Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans; and Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz.
Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention spoke to the Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference.
Herb Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church for the past 28 years, preached the historic Convention sermon, saying “one soul matters. Jesus Christ has populated heaven one soul at a time. And it matters that we reach out to just that one soul.”
During the business session, messengers approved a $30 million Florida Cooperative Program budget for 2020 that will designate 51 percent of all receipts to the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program and 49 percent to missions and ministries of the Florida Baptist Convention.
The $30 million CP budget is an amount identical to the 2019 budget and represents the same percentage distribution between national and state ministries. Receipts over budget will be forwarded 100 percent to the SBC.
Messengers also welcomed 58 new cooperating churches, planted between Sept. 1, 2018-Oct. 15, 2019, that represent 17 associations within the state.
No resolutions were introduced or considered.
During his address, Green set a vision for Florida Baptists for the next five years. “Challenge 2025” will spur Florida Baptists to attain a new level of commitment to reach the state with the gospel:
—increase church plants to 75 per year and church revitalizations to 100 per year;
–baptize 30,000 new believers each year;
–expand mission engagements to involve 12,000 Florida Baptists annually;
–increase annual giving through Cooperative Program to $33 million from $30 million; and
–elevate gifts to the Maguire State Mission Offering to a million dollars.
Accomplishing such will require a kingdom mindset, Green said. But he believes “we’re going to see God do miracles.”
The Florida Baptist State Convention will meet again Nov. 9-10, 2020 at the Church at the Mall in Lakeland.