David Strope, Council of Eighteen chairman, called to order the 2020 business meeting. This year’s business meeting presented some unique challenges in its virtual format. To conduct Council of Eighteen elections and voting on several items virtually, Strope issued instructions so church messengers could participate in the process without difficulty.
Following these introductory comments, Mike Hess delivered his report as national representative. Hess addressed the unusual nature of 2020 and contrasted the pre-COVID-19 activities of the ministry with the post-COVID-19 activities. Prior to the COVID-19 shutdowns, the ministry was experiencing strong progress in connecting with churches and continued blessing financially. Since the beginning of the shutdowns, however, the ministry has faced challenges, but Hess reminded the messengers that God has proven faithful and good through it. He then highlighted an initiative for the coming year to reproduce church leaders to help association churches thrive. Hess completed his report by encouraging churches to continue in their support for the national ministry and to press on in their local ministries.
Treasurer Mark Johnson gave the 2020 financial report. Under the circumstances of the COVID-19 shutdowns, the finances of the ministry were significantly affected. Fortunately, although the association will experience a large financial shortfall this year, steps have been taken to mitigate the negative impact. Regular Baptist Ministries was able to reduce expenses, and through the Paycheck Protection Program, the ministry was able to secure forgivable loans. This has allowed the ministry to avoid layoffs and avoid exhausting all its reserves. Johnson closed his report by fielding several questions.
Motions were made to bring four new churches into GARBC membership: Damascus Road Community Baptist Church (Glenarden, Md.); Prior Lake Baptist Church (Prior Lake, Minn.); Victory Baptist Church (Albion, N.Y.); and Emmanuel Baptist Church (Omaha, Neb.). Two new resolutions were presented: “God’s Goodness” and “Racial and Ethnic Harmony.” The messengers voted on an amendment to the Articles of Faith and an update to the purpose statement in the association’s Constitution. The meeting closed with a presentation of the candidates for the Council of Eighteen and instructions for messengers to make their selections.