The new SEND Network – Florida partnership between the Florida Baptist Convention (Convention) and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) was just one of the many new and exciting things considered and approved by the State Board of Missions (SBM) last week as they gathered at the FBC building in Jacksonville.
“The members of the State Board of Missions for the Florida Baptist Convention made historic decisions for Florida Baptists,” said Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green. “The future trajectory of missions and ministry in our state has been impacted through these unanimous considerations.”
Here’s what happened:
- The Board endorsed the new SEND Network – Florida partnership with NAMB as the primary vehicle for church plant resourcing being provided for Florida Baptist churches. This includes assessment, training, resourcing and financial support. Church planting funds from the Florida Baptist Cooperative Program budget and the Maguire State Mission offering will be directed through this new partnership. “The establishment of the Send Network Florida in partnership with the North American Mission Board changes the landscape of church planting and replanting in Florida,” said Green. For more visit https://flbaptist.org/send-network-florida/.
- The Board also approved a statement of support for the “Who’s Your One” initiative by Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President J.D. Greear, recognizing the importance of Jesus’s command to go and make disciples. In its statement of support the Board also encouraged Florida Baptist churches to “lead out in their churches with the ‘Who’s Your One’ initiative in prayerful hope that our pews be awakened with revival and the members will be stirred to action in order to see our state impacted in a mighty way with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- Don Sawyer, Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center executive director, shared the master plan for the future of the property, including the sale of a plot of land. The Board approved and recommended that messengers of the 2019 Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting authorize the request by the Lake Yale board of directors to sell the 74-acre parcel of land. The parcel is located on the south end of the Lake Yale campus and it is expected that its sale will generate $3 million which will be dedicated to critical capital improvements and expansion of the remaining 215+ acres of property.
- A similar approval and recommendation were made in regard to the Blue Springs Campus of the Baptist College of Florida which was rendered mostly unfit for use after Hurricane Michael passed through. Proceeds from the sale of that campus will be dedicated to the expansion of the Baptist College of Florida to better serve the next generation of Florida Baptists in higher education, including a new campus in the central Florida area of the state. “The approval of the sale of property by the Baptist College of Florida and the Lake Yale Conference Center will potentially provide needed resources for the advancement of these ministries,” said Green.
- In response to the recent events surrounding the article by the Houston Chronicle on sexual misconduct and abuse within the SBC, the Board adopted an updated Policy on Background Screening and Sexual Abuse Reporting.
- In an effort to be ‘Right Beside’ the local church and pastor and recognizing that where healthy associations exist there are healthier churches working in cooperation to impact their communities; the Board approved that Rick Wheeler be contracted by the convention as the Associational Revitalization Consultant for a two-year pilot initiative. Wheeler is the missional strategist for the Jacksonville Baptist Association (JBA) and has been recognized nationally for his effective leadership of the JBA. He is also engaged in the national conversation regarding the association model of ministry for the future. “The approval of an Association Revitalization process through the leadership of Rick Wheeler, Associational Mission Strategist for JBA, will yield tremendous Kingdom results in the days ahead,” Green said.
The multi-day meeting was marked by worship, fellowship and times of prayer. The Board and convention staff also heard from Florida Baptist State Convention President Erik Cummings who led a compelling devotion themed “don’t blow off what God breathed on.” Additionally, the Board and staff members had an emotional time of prayer for those affected by Hurricane Michael.
“Your State Board of Missions has provided future thinking leadership that continues to position Florida Baptists to reach Florida and beyond with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” concluded Green about the productive meetings.