By Marcus Brewer, Moderator & State Office Coordinator
Greetings from the State Office and the Executive Board!
I hope your 2018 is off to a good start. We have just completed the 2018 All Boards Meeting and have several updates to share with you.
First of all, this year’s State Meeting, the 104th Annual Session, is scheduled for June 6-8 at the Pine Prairie FWB Church in Huntsville. We will be sharing more details about the exact schedule, pre-registration, hotel reservations, and more as we confirm them, but we are looking forward to a great event and a time of fellowship, worship, and business in June.
The schedule for this year’s meeting will look fairly similar to recent years. We have reviewed and processed all of the responses we received to the survey we distributed online and at the 2017 meeting in Plano. While we expected to see a variety of opinions and preferences in the survey responses, it turned out that there were not many obvious changes that many of our people asked for. For example, when we asked which month (May-August) would be best for the meeting, June was the most common response, though other months also received some votes. Similarly, there was a small preference in
shortening the meeting from its current three calendar days to two, but the margin was small. While that change could be easily implemented by combining our Friday morning and Thursday afternoon business sessions, without eliminating any of our other program content, the Board decided not to make that change for 2018.
Perhaps the most consistent theme among the responses we received was the desire to add/reintroduce/expand events and activities for youth at the State Meeting. There has been an obvious change in both attendance and excitement at the State Meeting since we were required to conduct our state youth competition before the end of May, which necessitated separating it from the State Meeting. In separate and joint discussions at the All Boards Meeting, the Executive Board and the Christian Education Board explored ideas to provide some new opportunities through the new Texas Youth Conference event. This year’s event, ALIVE!, will be held the week after the State Meeting, June 13-16 in Plano. In subsequent years, however, we are looking at ways to coordinate the two events to provide a better opportunity for our youth to be involved in ministry, to provide a more “whole-family” atmosphere at the State Meeting, and to encourage people of all ages to worship, serve, and fellowship with one another. That could introduce a way to enable some of the future State Meeting schedule changes discussed in the survey responses; we’ll continue to evaluate multiple options as we try to determine what kind of event will be most beneficial to our churches and families.
Also from the All Boards Meeting:
- The CE Board is also tentatively planning a Men’s Retreat for October, and WAC has a Ladies’ Retreat also planned for September. More details on those will be released as they are finalized.
- The Mission Board announced that two of our mission works, Clearview and Woodforest, have set goals to be self-supporting by June of 2019; we’re looking forward to seeing that come to reality.
Finally, it seems that there has been some confusion in the last few months about cooperative giving (also traditionally called “co-op” for short). Co-op is a way to easily give to support multiple ministries in which all of our churches can participate (thus, the label of “cooperative” giving). Gifts given to co-op are assigned to several recipients based on a pre-defined distribution. At the state level, we have a distribution plan that assigns gifts to four ministries, as follows:
- 40% State Office
- 12% National Together Way plan (“National Co-op”)
- 25% State Home Missions
- 23% Christian Education Board
Churches may give directly to State Co-op, or you may give through your District treasurer. Regardless of how your church or District gives to State Co-op, please be specific in how your treasurer describes those funds when transmitting them each month. It seems that we have recently had funds sent to our State treasurer that were labeled as “State Office” instead of “State Cooperative Giving”; as a result, the Mission Board and CE Board are not receiving their share of those gifts. Our State treasurer is working with District and church treasurers to determine the extent of those allocations and what funds might need to be reassigned as a result. (Another common example is churches still describing gifts to “Hillsdale” or “FWBBC”, both of whose names have changed. While those funds can still get to where they’re assigned, it creates extra work to make sure the records are accurate. The same goes for gifts to missionary accounts with misspelled names or out-of- date information.) The bottom line is that, going forward, we encourage everyone to double-check your reports to make sure that all of the funds are accurately described.
As a reminder, please visit the State Association website at and review your district’s and church’s information in the directory. We’ve counted eight churches currently without pastors, and perhaps one or two more that may be anticipating a transition in the near future. If you see any information that needs to be changed, please send updates and corrections to me at the State Office.
We appreciate all that you do for Texas Free Will Baptists and for the work of God. As always, you can contact us with any questions.