Missouri Baptists celebrated restoration and renewed cooperation to transform lives with the Gospel at their annual meeting Oct. 28-29 at the Branson Convention Center in Branson, Mo.
Attendance rose in comparison to the previous few years, drawing 1,277 messengers and 262 visitors from 499 churches.
For the first time in nearly two decades, messengers welcomed to the annual meeting all Missouri Baptist entities, including the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, Hannibal-LaGrange University, Southwest Baptist University, the Missouri Baptist Foundation, The Baptist Home and Missouri Baptist University (MBU).
The Foundation, the Home and MBU were among five Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) entities — including the Windermere Baptist Conference Center — that broke away from the MBC in 2000-2001. After months of seeking private reconciliation and Christian arbitration, Missouri Baptists directed the MBC to seek a legal remedy as a last resort. This led to protracted litigation ending in February, when the home and MBU decided not to appeal a ruling by the Missouri Court of Appeals returning both institutions to MBC control. The foundation was welcomed back into the MBC family in 2016.
“We have come to celebrate restoration,” MBC Executive Director John Yeats told messengers during his annual address. He welcomed to the stage and briefly interviewed MBC ministry leaders and presidents of each MBC entity.
“We truly are better together, believing with all our hearts that the cooperative message is a biblical message for today,” Yeats told messengers. “When we say we believe the message of cooperation, it is not mere intellectual assent. It means we practice it, we teach it, and we glorify our Lord through it.”
Prior to his address, Yeats recognized Randy Comer, chairman for the MBC’s Agency Restoration group which has overseen the MBC’s efforts during the past two decades to win back its entities.
“Tonight, we would like to share this plaque with you — that is, a plaque with a resolution from the executive board, declaring that your task is finished,” Yeats said. “And we thank God for everyone coming home! Let’s stand and give praise to the Lord!”
During his address, MBC President Jeremy Muniz signaled a step toward reconciliation with the Windermere Baptist Conference Center. The MBC’s efforts to restore Windermere ended unsuccessfully in 2014, when the Missouri Supreme Court denied the MBC’s bid for a jury trial to determine legal ownership of the conference center.
Muniz preached from Colossians 1:15-23, which inspired the theme for the annual meeting, “Christ is all.” According to this passage, Muniz said, Christ is the author of creation, the genesis of resurrection and recreation, and the agent of reconciliation.
“The agent of making peace is the blood of Christ. We need to plead the blood of Jesus,” Muniz said, urging messengers to seek reconciliation and peace with God and others. To exemplify the power of reconciliation, he welcomed on stage Windermere President Tim Huddleston.
“I have been praying for this day, daily, for months,” said Huddleston, who began his tenure March 1 at Windermere. He told Missouri Baptists that he accepted this position at Windermere “on one condition: that we would fully reconcile with the Missouri Baptist Convention.”
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Source: Baptist Press