David Strope, chairman of the Council of Eighteen, called the 2021 GARBC business meeting to order, saying, “We do have some significant issues to address, but we want to honor Christ in the manner and presentation of each of the items today.”
National Representative Mike Hess then delivered his annual report, noting that he “wants these business meetings to be forward thinking” and emphasizing Colossians 3:23–24 as an important principle not only for business meetings, but also for all ministry work. Those verses read, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”
Hess’s presentation emphasized the three-pronged purpose of the GARBC and its constituent ministry arms. “We exist to resource, revitalize, and reproduce disciple-making local churches for the glory of God,” he said. “That purpose drives every single thing that our ministries do.”
Treasurer Mark Johnson updated the messengers on the association’s financial position. He noted that the COVID-related shutdowns were particularly hard on the GARBC’s ministries, as they resulted in a steep decline in sales of Regular Baptist Press material, which the association relies on for the largest share of its revenue. Nevertheless, Johnson repeatedly emphasized the grace of God and the generosity of churches in sustaining Regular Baptist Ministries through this financially difficult time. Although the fallout from the pandemic was significant, RBP sales now appear to be in a recovery trend that should return the ministries to a position of stability in the near future.
Kerry Watkins, director of human resources for Regular Baptist Ministries, announced his recent appointment to a newly created position, director of church engagement. Watkins will be working to increase the engagement level of churches within the GARBC. Engagement can sometimes be nebulous and difficult to quantify, but Watkins proposed four metrics for measuring engagement: enthusiastic promotion of the association; use of RBP materials; regular attendance at the national conference; and financial support of the association. Watkins says he is looking forward to connecting with churches to encourage increased engagement.
Motions were approved to bring three new churches into fellowship with the GARBC: Fairway Park Baptist Church, Hayward, California; Iglesia Bautista la Gracia, Bryant, Arkansas; and Filipino Gracetoration Christian Fellowship, Regina, Saskatchewan. The messengers voted on new candidates for the Council of Eighteen and approved two new resolutions: “The Holy Spirit in the Church Age” and “The Importance of Reproducing Leaders in the Local Church.”
Strope concluded the business meeting with a note of thanks: “We want to thank pastor Ken Fields and the church staff here at Bethel Baptist Church. It’s really a great privilege to be here. We are very grateful for the opportunity.”