New England Baptists Undergo Restructuring

New Hampshire Baptist missionary Rich Clegg addresses the annual meeting of the New Hampshire Baptist Association about the group’s decision to merge with the Baptist Convention of New England. Submitted photo

Following three other local Baptist association mergers, the New Hampshire Baptist Association became the fourth to dissolve and join the Baptist Convention of New England during the association’s annual meeting on Oct. 19.

The merger is part of an overarching plan set in motion by the BCNE titled “Uniting New England Baptists.” The plan seeks to combine assets of smaller Baptist associations with the BCNE to provide more resources for local churches to create vibrant expressions of Baptist life.

Terry Dorsett, executive director of BCNE, said that since 2010 the smaller associations have struggled financially and organizationally to maintain effective ministry outreach. Without the financial means to do the actual work of ministry, Dorsett realized that a new plan was needed to keep Baptist life alive.

In this plan, the association itself dissolves, but all assets are re-invested and allocated back to the churches previously in the associations for ministry and mission.

“We found that not only are our associations struggling financially, but they [are] struggling from an administrative perspective,” Dorsett said, “Most of our [associational mission strategists] took the job because they wanted to serve and help pastors. Most of them were not necessarily wanting to run a small nonprofit, but that’s exactly what they ended up doing.”

Dorsett explained that the mergers allow the BCNE to take care of all the administrative paperwork and gives the associational mission strategists from each association the option to be hired by BCNE. In these new roles, they can focus on ministering directly to the pastors of churches in their region rather than running a small non-profit.

In the previous associational model, with so few churches connected, every financial up and down was felt deeply by each association member.

The BCNE also has a greater ability to absorb losses and still keep the work of the convention going, even when some churches experience financial difficulty.

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Source: Baptist Press