The annual Council of Eighteen meetings were held on June 26 ahead of the 2020 annual conference. Every year, the council meets to settle outstanding business and make plans for the coming year. Normally, this takes place at the conference venue. This year, since the conference is entirely virtual, council members convened at the GARBC’s resource center in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Social distancing guidelines were observed for the duration of the meetings.
The pandemic and its effects on society occupied much of the discussion. “It brings to mind Proverbs 19:21,” national representative Mike Hess said. “’Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.’ How comforting it is to know that God’s purpose will stand no matter how chaotic our circumstances!” As the directors of each RBM ministry presented their reports for the year, all noted how the pandemic had posed various difficulties and challenges. A great deal of effort in the coming year will be directed toward recovering from the shutdown’s deleterious effects.
Hess presented five key initiatives he would like the GARBC to pursue in the next fiscal year: reproduction of ministry leaders; giving churches hope; encouraging pastors and wives; focusing on discipleship; and cultivating a Word-centered culture. “I encourage you to continue to pray and consider how you and your church can be involved in the GARBC,” he said. “Invite various ministry directors to present their ministries in your churches. Purchase a group subscription to the Baptist Bulletin. Disciple your people with material from Regular Baptist Press. Your investment in this association will help us to more effectively ‘Make Disciples through Healthy Local Churches.’”
Despite the long shadow the pandemic has cast over the current moment in history, all participants were quick to express their settled confidence in God’s sovereignty over the situation. Council chairman David Strope pointed to 1 Peter 5:10–11 as an especially pertinent passage in this moment: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”