|Miami church planting family commitment embodies State Board decisions
By Barbara Denman
February 14, 2014
LEESBURG—The words of a child brought a personal perspective to the actions and decisions made by the State Board of Missions during its Feb. 7 meeting at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center when five-year-old Jackson Allen took to the microphone.
“We moved to Miami to tell people about Jesus,” the youngster told the Board, “by planting a church called Christ Centered Church.”
Jackson, his dad Derek, mother Lindsay and siblings Meredith, 3, and Sawyer, 10 months, shared their testimony of how God called them from a church in Alabama to start a church in Miami, despite knowing no one there and little about the city.
On Feb. 9, the Allen family launched C2 Church on the north campus of Florida International University after having visited hundreds of homes and making 75,000 contacts.
“Florida Baptists have been a key part in this,” Derek Allen explained, “helping us learn the city and being family.” The Florida Baptist Convention’s Urban Impact Center staff in Hialeah supported him in his efforts along the way and provided accommodations for mission teams to help plant the church, he added.
The Allens were invited to the meeting by Al Fernandez, lead strategist of the Convention’s Church Planting Group, who also introduced the church planting team, a collection of “great diversity,” he explained. The staff included five Hispanics, two Haitians, an African, an African-American and three Anglos, he said, “representing one of the best church planting teams in the nation.”
At the conclusion of the report, the church planting group laid hands on the young family while Tim Maynard, president of the Florida Baptist State Convention, led them in prayer.
In other business, Board members heard from Gary Yeldell, the Convention’s attorney of record, about plans to appeal a sexual abuse lawsuit that found the Convention negligent in providing funding to a church for a pastor who served two mission churches in Lake County, despite the jury conceding that the pastor was never an employee of the Convention. In a second trial to determine financial liability, the jury awarded $12.5 million to the plaintiff.
At this time, the Convention and its insurance carrier intend to appeal the liability and damage verdict.
Yeldell expressed confidence that “the appellant court will overturn the jury’s verdict,” he said, “based on the jury’s express findings that Myers was an independent pastor who was not hired, employed or supervised by the Convention.”
John Sullivan, Convention executive director-treasurer, assured the Board that “regardless of the outcome of the trial and appeal to come, we cannot let this case hinder our efforts to support church planting efforts in our state.”
Citing the example of the Allens’ commitment to plant new churches, Sullivan, calling the family a “breath of fresh air,” emphasized, “we are not going to stop doing the right thing just because of this lawsuit.”
In other business, the Board learned that Cooperative Program receipts for 2013 of $30,199,175 were $800,824 below the $31 million budget.
Sullivan explained that he had found other sources to fund the $330,000 budget shortfall proportioned to the Convention if needed. “We believe the Cooperative Program is going to turn around in 2014 and will do anything we can to help it turn around,” he added.
The Board suspended the authorization to sell Blue Springs Conference Center in Marianna for the immediate time. However, Board member Ted Traylor of Pensacola sought to clarify that the property was still up for sale. Sullivan assured him, “we are going to agree to seek to sell Blue Springs.”
In financial matters, the Board learned that gifts to the 2013 Maguire State Mission Offering totaled $812,563 or 81.26 percent of the one million dollar goal. The amount was given by 783 participating churches with a per capita gift of $1,038. The receipts were $33,641 or four percent less than the $846,204 received in 2012.
However, because promotion costs were reduced in 2014, unspent promotion funds also were available for the offering recipients. The Board authorized the distribution of those funds to 22 mission and ministry efforts on the Florida Baptist mission field.
A 2014 Maguire State Mission Offering goal of $1,159,000 was adopted by the Board with identical recipient ministries as the previous year. Allocations included priority expenses for the William J. Guess Church Site Fund, $300,000; disaster relief/recovery $75,000; associational shared receipts, $60,000; partnership mission projects in Haiti, Cuba, Brazil and partnership states, $365,000; mission outreach ministries, $125,000; developing believers through mission camps, $120,000; and student evangelism outreach, $15,000.
In other action, the Board:
--learned that 14 churches had withdrawn from cooperation with local associations;
--received a status report on the regionalization of Convention program ministries.
--granted an exception to policy to provide a church loan in the amount of $150,000 for the Iglelsia Bautista Le Promesa in Lakeland; and
--approved revisions to the Convention’s Personnel and Practice Manual to provide consistency in nomenclature.
The next Board meeting will be held May 29-30 at Blue Springs Conference Center.