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State Board revises 2013 budget; Reset Church Planting group

By Barbara Denman

June 10, 2013

LEESBURG, (FBC)—A revision of the 2013 Cooperative Program budget that reduced income to three Florida Baptist Convention agencies and the hiring of three church planting field missionaries to expand the teams within the Church Planting Group were among the actions taken by the State Board of Missions during its May 31 meeting at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center.

The Board also celebrated after hearing a report from Clayton Cloer, who serves as the chairman of the “Revision Florida” oversight committee, that 1,226 churches increased their giving either by a percentage or dollar amount through the Cooperative Program from 2011 to 2012.

Cloer came to that conclusion after a comparative review of the Cooperative Program giving of Florida Baptist churches in 2007, 2011 and 2012, to determine “if we have moved the needle” through the Revision Florida emphasis.

At the conclusion of Cloer’s report, John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, suggested that Board members “tweet” that good news, which many did.

The 2013 budget was reduced to $31 million from the original $31.6 million due to a $600,000 income shortfall in 2012. To meet the reduction needed for the 2013 budget, the Convention cut its budget by $200,000 and the funding to three agencies was reduced by $200,000.

Decreases and revised 2013 allocations are: The Baptist College of Florida, decreased by $101,150 to $1,636,850; Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, decreased by $79,080 to $1,279,720; Florida Baptist Witness, decreased by $19,770, to $319,930. Allocations for ministerial tuition support and Florida Baptist Financial Services for the Retirement Center were not revised.

The revised Basic Budget of $31,000,000 will be distributed between the Southern Baptist Convention, $12,865,000, or 41.5 percent; Florida Baptist Convention, $13,396,900; Florida institutions and agencies $3,532,700; church staff annuity protection plan, $600,400; and church planting assistance, $632,000.

To accomplish the $200,000 reduction in the Convention budget, $100,000 will be trimmed by the deletion of staff and $100,000 in reduced programming.

Despite reductions across board, no percentage changes were made in the allocation to the SBC; however, a reduction of approximately $200,000 will take place as a result of the overall budget reduction.

The Board authorized the reorganization of the Church Planting Group, which will now include an English-speaking Church Planting Team, combining the Anglo and African-American teams; and the Language Church Planting Team.

The three new employees hired in the Church Planting Group include two newly created positions: field missionary, southeast Florida region, Haitian Church Planting; and field missionary Southeast Region, Language Church Planting. Funding for these positions is underwritten in part by the North American Mission Board.

John Voltaire of Miami will fill the Haitian church planting position, effective immediately. The 38-year-old was born in Haiti and received the bachelor of science degree from Florida Atlantic University; and the master of arts degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg. From 2010 the bivocational pastor led Grace Community Church in Kendall; and was employed as a manufacturing engineer with Avionica, Inc., in Miami.

Rogney Paz of Quincy will assume the position in Central Florida effective immediately. A native of Cuba, Paz, 38, served as pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Esperanza in Marianna since 2006. While serving the Marianna church, in 2009 he started the Iglesia Bautista Roca Eterna in Quincy. He is expected to reside in the Ocala area.

The Board also hired former Convention employee Rick Lawrence as field missionary in English-speaking Church Planting in the Northeast Florida region. Lawrence previously served as teaching pastor at Summit Church in High Springs from 2010-2013 and as director of Florida Baptists’ church planting department from 2001-2011. Lawrence, 58, a native of Jeffersonville, Ind., is a graduate of Luther Rice Seminary.

In a related matter, the Board approved newly developed church planting assistance guidelines to financially help churches in starting new mission churches while encouraging good stewardship of God’s resources.

The Board also received a report on the Convention’s 2012 Strategic Plan that outlined 178 numerical goals, of which 94 percent were attempted through defined action plans. Of those goals attempted, 69 percent were met or exceeded as determined by a numeric or quantitative assessment.


Highlights included: 49,101 baptisms conducted of which 30,638 were in Florida and 19,372 in Florida’s mission partnership of Haiti; starting 117 new churches—16 African-Americans, 41 Anglo and 60 Hispanic, International and Haitian congregations; enrolling 1,445 persons in theological education; and recruiting 111,774 Florida Baptists in 1,238 congregations to participate in hands-on mission activities.


In other action, the Board learned that the Convention received an unqualified opinion, the highest level a CPA can issue on a financial statement in an audit of 2012 financial records by Batts, Morrison, Wales and Lee, P.A. of Orlando.


In other action, the Board

—granted church-at-large status to the Antioch Baptist Church in Gainesville;

—learned that 54 Board elected staff lived out their faith in “word and deed” in 2012 by presenting 3,707 gospel presentations; 19,987 outreach contacts; which resulted in 2,552 professions of faith; and led 980 Bible studies and 1,537 worship services;

—approved $50,000 funding for publishing the first volume of “The History of Florida Baptists,” co-authored by the late Earl Joiner and Don Hepburn;

—renamed the Church Leadership and Development Group to the Church Health Group which better fits current Southern Baptist nomenclature;

renewed the partnership between the Convention and the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists through 2016; and

—expressed appreciation for James A. Smith Sr. for his contributions during his 12-year tenure as executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness upon his departure to rejoin the staff of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as executive editor and seminary spokesperson.

The next Board meet is set for Sept. 19-20 at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center.

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