“There are different methods to reach people … but here’s the thing that brings us all together: the message,” Chris Goeppner, a New Hampshire pastor whose church baptized 92 last year, noted in the opening remarks of the Baptist Convention of New England’s 37th annual meeting.
The Nov. 1-2 sessions at Island Pond Baptist Church in Hampstead, N.H., drew 169 messengers and 58 guests for fellowship, worship, prayer, business and celebrating what God is doing as the New Englanders focused on the theme of evangelism.
Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, preached the opening sermon, “Why Southern Baptists Must Evangelize.”
Evangelism must be the priority for Christians, Floyd reminded. It is the starting point for discipleship and is urgent because Jesus is coming again.
“People need Jesus, and people need Jesus now,” Floyd said. “We may be doing good things in our churches, but are we doing the best thing?
In the BCNE president’s address, Tim Owens, lead pastor of Mission City Church in Rutland and Bennington, Vt., expounded on Romans 1, underscoring to the audience that they are obligated to be reading and willing to share the Gospel.
“Here’s how we know evangelism works: We’re proof of it!” Owens said, issuing a call to saturate New England with the Gospel in the next 20 years.
Terry Dorsett, in his executive director’s report, encouraged New England Baptists to prepare themselves for evangelism by truly revering Christ as Lord as well as by praying, receiving training and displaying the hope of Christ.
“There’s a reason why some of us aren’t very effective in evangelism: because our lives are saying something much stronger than our words,” Dorsett said.
Messengers unanimously passed a “Resolution Regarding Sexual Abuse in Churches” in response to revelations and subsequent press coverage earlier this year of instances of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches.
The resolution, citing such Scripture verses as Luke 17:1-2 and Ephesians 5:27, states that the BCNE “strongly condemns the sexual abuse of children and other vulnerable individuals.” The resolution encourages churches “not to tolerate or cover up sexual abuse” and to “comfort and assist” survivors of sexual abuse and their families. The BCNE pledges to encourage churches to offer training, implement safety practices and utilize the national sex offender website, among other best practices.
The resolution concludes with an affirmation of the BCNE’s “right to disfellowship churches that knowingly cover up, ignore, or fail to report in a timely way allegations of sexual abuse of minors or other vulnerable individuals.”
An additional resolution was passed to thank Island Baptist Church of Hampstead, N.H., for hosting the meeting.
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Source: Baptist Press