KBC Annual Meeting Todd Gray

Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, presents his state of the convention address to messengers on Tuesday at the KBC Annual Meeting in Elizabethtown. (Kentucky Today/Robin Cornetet)

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky Baptists celebrated the success of taking the Gospel to Every Home at its Annual Meeting Tuesday at Severns Valley Baptist Church while endorsing two significant efforts for the upcoming year.

Details of the two initiatives are:

--Calling Out the Called is an initiative launched to help meet the staff needs of churches. “This resulted from an awareness that the pipeline in ministry positions is depleted or empty,” said Todd Gray, KBC executive director-treasurer. He noted that about 60 percent of churches in the state rely on bi-vocational pastors, and in some counties there are no men available to fill empty pulpits. “The same is true for worship leaders, student and children’s ministers. The needs exist, but the supply is not as strong as the demand. Folks who can answer that call are sitting in Kentucky Baptist churches.”

Steve Rice, team leader for Church Consulting and Revitalization, said Calling Out the Called is a three-year focus, particularly on bi-vocational churches, with an additional effort to encourage men and women to serve in all the various roles that God may call them to.

“We want to pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest,” Rice said. He listed five priorities -- pray, invite, mentor, teach and send.

“Jesus identified prayer as the answer, so prayer should be the foundation this initiative is built on. We want to invite the called - only God can call someone into ministry. God typically uses a local pastor or ministry leader when He calls. We want to encourage pastors and ministry leaders to appeal to their listeners to respond to God’s call in sermons, teaching and conversations.” He added that the initiative includes mentoring the called, teaching the called and sending the called. Those efforts include helping those who are called to be aware of formal and informal training opportunities, and then network with churches, associations and organizations to connect them to ministries which God has called them to.”

--Establishment of sex abuse task force was approved. President Wes Fowler said the purpose is to evaluate how KBC currently responds to sexual abuse allegations. It will include reviewing all current policies, procedures and training material relating to sexual abuse awareness, prevention and response.

Also, the Fowler proposal includes consulting with reputable organization to determine best practices for KBC to use when responding to sexual abuse allegations. Mission Board staff will abide by best practices recommended by the task force.

Findings and recommendations will be announced at the 2022Annual Meeting in Bowling Green. Fowler said KBC “will strive to equip affiliated churches through education resources relating to sexual abuse awareness, prevention and obligation.

“If one child is spared from the horrendous evil of sexual abuse, then our efforts are worth every single penny.”

In other reports:

--Rob Patterson, team leader for Evangelism, said there is much to celebrate about Gospel to Every Home. “Your Cooperative Program dollars fueled this – what a picture that Kentucky Baptists stand united around the gospel. More has been accomplished than any of us dreamed possible over the past 12 months. There is still much work to do because some churches are associations are just getting started (making visits to homes with a gospel message).”

--As messengers departed for lunch, each person was given a copy of the gospel of John and encouraged to “share the good news of Jesus Christ to someone who needs to hear.” Use gospel of John to share the good news of Jesus Christ to someone who needs to hear.

--Gray also updated messengers on Friends of Life KY, an effort to support the unborn. “Convictionally, we are pro-life people. Legalized abortion should be abolished, and we are working toward that end."

--Jim Ewing, chairman of the Committee on public affairs, noted in early 2021 an advisory committee was formed, including pregnancy resource center directions as well as state and local health leaders. “Our conviction is to have as many voices as possible,” Ewing said, but being careful “to not duplicate efforts of other groups. Where it makes sense, we will look for opportunities to partner. But it’s important to maintain our Baptist identity.”

A website (friendsoflifeky.org) has been developed. The committee hopes to raise awareness about the issue. “Often times people are willing to nod their heads (to oppose abortion), but they still have questions. We want to develop biblical apologetics to defend life.”

Ewing said the committee also has an advocacy purpose, and will have a Friends of Life celebration Sept. 15 in Bowling Green to encourage pastors and churches to support a Constitutional amendment stating there is no right to abortion and no right to abortion funding. Also, action is involved – seeking to enlist churches to get involved in the pro-life movement and stand up in pro-life activities.

Ewing noted that prayer is essential. “There are no easy answers, and the opposition is strong. Despite the challenges, we’re grateful for the opportunity to provide leadership on this for Kentucky Baptists. Our prayer is that God might allow us to see one day the scourge of abortion ended.”

--In other action from the morning session, Kenny Rager and Doug Williams encouraged messengers to attend the REACH evangelism conference in Bowling Green next March.

“This will be a historic gathering to learn about evangelism,” said Rager. “We added missions to it last year, so missions and evangelism teams are working together. We want this (REACH) to be a place for pastors to be energized and revived. We have a vision for REACH to the tool for Kentucky Baptists where young men are called to preach, called to the mission field, to be burdened for the lost.” He encouraged pastors to bring church members, staff and lay leaders to the event. “This is not just for clergy, but for the people of God.”

Williams said speakers will be Danny Forshee, Shane Pruitt, Fred Luter, Jr., George Ross, Bryant Wright, Elmer Towns, Nik Ripken, John Brady and Jamaal Williams. Women’s ministry track speakers are Lauren Botts, Liz Encinia and Tracy Woods.

--Gray told messengers about a fourth of KBC churches are disengaged from Kentucky Baptist life. “A lot are smaller churches – they are not mad at KBC for most part, not mad at SBC, but have just drifted away from active engagement in KBC life. One of our goals is to see as many as engaged as possible.”

The Mission Board approved a job description change that will have a person focusing on working with those churches to help them become more engaged with KBC. Gray said the hope is to have a candidate named soon for that role.

Gray also talked about Mission Board staff members and their ministry to leads across the state. “We’re at our best when we are serving you. Our desire is to come alongside you.”

He recounted KBC’s help in providing preachers for Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church in Jamestown, which had dwindled to about 10 active members. “Mrs. Joan Wheat asked if we could send preachers, which we did Sunday after Sunday,” Gray said, noting that CP funding helps pay those expenses. Two souls have trusted in Jesus and been baptized. They had Vacation Bible School with 13 servants involved and about 15 children had the gospel seed planted and watered.”

--Also at the meeting, Wilma Simmons was recognized for her service to the convention as secretary for the past 30 years.

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