State Board fills positions, hears Green’s heart

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The State Board of Missions created a Black Multicultural Church Catalyst position, transferred three staff members to new roles and took further action to create Lake Yale Conference Center as a cooperating ministry during its annual meeting held prior to Florida Baptist State Convention Nov. 14 at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater.

Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, updated the Board of on the successful transfer of Blue Springs Baptist Conference to the Baptist College of Florida. He told the Board the sale of the Baptist Building in Jacksonville should be completed by February; and the purchase of a new building in South Jacksonville should be completed at the end of the year.

Green shared from his heart about the past year as Florida Baptists radically changed their Cooperative Program budgeting process to send 51 percent of all receipts to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention. Noting there has been a $6 million upswing of SBC’s Cooperative Program, Green said nearly 50 percent of the additional funding came from Florida Baptists. “That’s significant, that’s game changing.”

This past week, the International Mission Board announced its 2017 budget would include funding for 100 new missionaries to be deployed to the mission field, Green said, during a time when Florida Baptists sent approximately $1.5 million in CP funds to the IMB.

Now other state conventions are following Florida’s lead, Green said. “This is not just an incremental shift. It is a monumental shift,” Green told the Board. “And you have been the one to move this forward.”

The Convention staff changes reflect a continuing need to evaluate and respond to church needs across the state, said Green.

In 2015, Green directed the Convention through a massive reorganizing and downsizing of staff. In this meeting, he acknowledged that as he continued to evaluate the staff organization some areas need to be addressed differently than the initial reorganization design.

One of those areas is the Convention’s work with Black and Multicultural churches.  Having previously established the Haitian and Hispanic church catalysts as full-time positions, the Board approved a recommendation to elevate the Black Multicultural part-time consultant position to a full-time Catalyst position.

Patrick Coats of Homestead was elected to the newly created role of Black Multicultural Catalyst, effective Jan. 1, 2017. Coats, 44, previously filled the consultant role while serving as pastor of the Kingdom Covenant Baptist Church in Homestead. According to Green, the Miami native has worked tirelessly in this role and led multiple Black Multicultural conferences across the states.

Coats has served with the Convention since 2012 when he was a field missionary in Southeast Florida. Prior to that from 1998-2005, he was assistant pastor and minister of music at Grace of God Baptist Church in Miami.

The Board also named two employees to new roles as Regional Catalysts.

Having authorized the creation of a sixth ministry region in North Florida and approved the new position of North Florida Regional Catalyst in August, the State Board transferred Convention employee Gary Townsend to fill the newly created position, effective Jan. 1, 2017. Townsend, who currently serves as the director of Church Staff Benefits/Stewardship, is a 12-year Convention employee.

In making the recommendation, Board president Mike Tatem noted that “during his tenure with the Convention and as a former director of missions, Gary has developed a rapport with pastors and church leaders.” Townsend lives in the North Florida region.

With the creation of the new region, a region composed of churches and associations along the Atlantic Coast was created and named the East Florida region.

Learning of the impending retirement of Glen Owens, who serves as the original Northeast Florida Regional Catalyst, the Board elected Craig Culbreth of Jacksonville to assume the role as catalyst of the newly designated region, effective Jan. 1, 2017.

Culbreth, who currently serves as catalyst for the Missions and Ministries Team, has served in various roles with the Convention since 1998, and currently resides in the region.

“Craig and his wife covered this decision in prayer and feel strongly that this is the direction the Lord is leading for their ministry with the Florida Baptist Convention,” said Tatem.

With the naming of Townsend as North Florida Regional Catalyst, the Board eliminated the position of director of Church Staff Benefits/Stewardship. According to Green, these responsibilities can best be handled by consultants and the staff at GuideStone Financial Resources.

The Board approved revisions to the Florida Baptist State Convention Constitution and Bylaws to add Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center as a cooperating ministry of the FBSC and authorized the revisions as recommendations to the Florida Baptist State Convention when it meets Nov. 15. The revisions reflected actions taken by the Board in its Aug. 26 meeting to establish the conference center as a separate incorporated FBSC entity rather than as a department within the Florida Baptist Convention. After approval, the documents must be ratified by the 2017 FBSC when it meets Nov. 13-14 in Miami.

In other matters, the Board heard that between Sept. 1, 2015 and Aug. 31, 2016, Florida Baptist churches planted 44 new congregations, with a third of these located in South Florida.

The Board also learned that 112 Florida Baptist churches received church planting funds in 2016.

A post-convention organizational Board meeting will be held Nov. 15 to welcome new Board members.

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