Faith, Family &
2012 Free Will Baptist Convention | Memphis, Tennessee | July 15-18
Despite the steamy July heat and sweltering humidity rising from the banks of the Mississippi River, attendees at the 76th annual Free Will Baptist National Convention in Memphis, Tennessee—more than 5,000 strong—enjoyed a week of inspiring worship, productive business, and many opportunities for service and fellowship.
The convention theme reflected a simple yet often forgotten truth—God Is Faithful. Sermons from convention speakers encouraged listeners to be faithful because God Himself is faithful.
Music Coordinator Chris Truett and the Music Commission produced a series of exciting worship services that featured a 100-voice convention choir, an orchestral ensemble, and vocal accompaniment. This year, the Music Commission tried something new. After Brian Sargent, music minister at Horse Branch FWB Church (SC), led worship on Sunday morning, Joshua Riggs, worship leader at Bethany FWB Church (OK), led congregational worship for each service throughout the remainder of the convention, a change from previous years when each service had a different worship leader. The congregation responded with enthusiastic singing and enjoyed unforgettable musical numbers.
Thomas Bee, deacon and adult teacher at South Highland FWB Church (AL), taught Sunday School from Hebrews 7:1-28, comparing the Levitical priesthood to the priesthood of Christ. He explained why Christ is better, sufficient, and permanent and reminded listeners that His intercession provides the only way to approach a Holy God.
Old Testament Scholar and Biblical and Ministry Studies professor at Free Will Baptist Bible College, Garnett Reid delivered the Sunday morning message. Using Lamentations 3 as his text, Dr. Reid described the essence of God’s nature as it relates to His faithfulness. In return, we should be faithful to Him.
Paul Bryant, pastor of Cross Creek FWB Church (MS), spoke Sunday evening from Hebrews 10:23, after being introduced by his father Randy Bryant, clerk of the National Association. His message, “God Is Faithful to His Promises,” encouraged listeners by reminding them that God is true to His Word, in contrast to the human tendency to waver and depend on one’s own strength.
On Monday night, Mike Gladson, pastor of Cofer’s Chapel FWB Church (TN), spoke on the topic of God’s faithfulness during times of testing. He reminded listeners that God sometimes uses trials as a means of bettering His children and emphasized that God did not promise that testing would not come, only that He would provide a means of escape.
On Tuesday, Illinois Pastor Jon Cannon tackled the subject of the believer’s faithfulness through persecution. Using 1 Peter 4:12-19 as his text, Cannon reminded listeners that suffering will come, but God will remain faithful, no matter the outcome.
Veteran Illinois pastor and assistant clerk of the National Association, Ernie Lewis delivered the Wednesday evening missions service message from 1 John 1:5-9. He reminded listeners that God is faithful to forgive. He encouraged the congregation to confess sins, embrace the cleansing power of the blood of Christ, and live holy lives. Amens echoed through the hall when he challenged Christians to fulfill the task of rescuing those perishing without Christ, reminding listeners that the Great Commission charges each Christian to “go ye.”
The Memphis convention drew to a close with a final, thunderous congregational song as hands raised and shouts rang out. Texas pastor Mark Headrick captured the moment when he said, “Tonight was the best ending to a worship service I have ever witnessed, and I really didn’t want it to end. I’m proud to be a Free Will Baptist. What a great convention this has been!”
Convention-goers did more than enjoy worship and fellowship. On Saturday, July 14, some 175 volunteers from seven states arrived at the convention a day early. The energetic group met at three churches and participated in service and outreach projects.
Eighty-five volunteers gathered at Cross Creek FWB Church (MS) and went door to door distributing flyers and making contacts for the church. They used innovative methods—buying bottles of water and sodas at gas stations to distribute to people pumping gas, and handing out bottles of water at local parks. They met physical needs as a means to meet spiritual ones, and their efforts produced positive responses.
“I was surprised by how receptive everyone was,” said Kathy Cherry, member of Mineral Springs FWB Church in Oklahoma. “Very few people turned us down.”
Cross Creek Pastor Paul Bryant said, “It was amazing to see how God blessed even though we had to change our plans because of rain. He put us in the right places to meet the right people!” The group distributed 350 bottles of water and made 850 contacts.
Sixty participants met at nearby Oakland FWB Church and distributed 3,500 flyers. Thirty volunteers met at Liberty FWB Church, cleared logs and debris from adjacent property, and cut firewood to sell.
Impact groups came from Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia. “I am so pleased with the turnout and thankful that the rain held off,” said Impact Director Ken Akers. “We believe our efforts will make a great difference for the Kingdom. I just hope everyone will get involved next year when the National Association meets in Tampa.”
Updates on Impact 2013 will be available throughout the year by visiting the Master’s Men website: www.fwbmastersmen.org.
An additional 400 volunteers dispersed across Memphis during the week to participate in daily service projects known as Reach That Guy (RTG). Under the leadership of Memphis home missionary Tim Osborn, they partnered with 10 organizations to provide 1,418 service hours.
RTG teams fed the hungry at Memphis Union Mission, cleaned up the neighborhood around the Salvation Army Women’s Shelter, and cleared out part of the downtown YMCA that serves underprivileged children. They sorted donations and cleaned Bibles for Missions Thrift Store, cleaned windows, washed sidewalks, finished out drywall, cut grass for seniors, and worked at a camp for children. On Wednesday, convention-goers lined up to donate blood during the annual American Red Cross Blood Drive.
Reach That Guy, a program of the National Youth Conference fueled largely by students and their sponsors, continues to be a vital outreach tool. The program began its ministry in Fort Worth in 1996. For Reach That Guy 2013 updates, visit www.fwbnyc.com.
Got Down to Business
General Board 2012
It took the General Board exactly four hours and 33 minutes to hear annual reports from nine national agencies and four commissions as Moderator Tim York navigated the maze of words, videos, and presentations to guide the General Board to a happy adjournment in Ballroom A of Memphis Cook Convention Center on Monday, July 16.
Along the way, General Board members made several recommendations, including a 2013 denominational budget of just over $24 million, a resolution deploring all forms of racism, and approval of a proposal to change the name of Free Will Baptist Bible College to Welch College.
Photo: Chaplain Terry Austin spoke briefly about Chaplain David Spears, who died on Christmas Day 2011.
They also recommended an adjustment amending the By-Laws of both The Hanna Project and the Free Will Baptist Foundation, and recommended the dates for the 2018 national convention in Little Rock, Arkansas, be shifted to July 22-25.
Clerk Randy Bryant read the names of 22 appointments to 2013 national committees: Credentials Committee (5), Nominating Committee (7), Resolutions Committee (5), and Obituary Committee (5).
Executive Secretary Keith Burden recommended that the General Board accept the David Marks Heritage Association into membership. The new association located in the Northeast includes three churches and expects two additional churches to join the association after the convention.
The board also recommended a non-refundable, but transferable, first night’s hotel room charge effective with the 2013 convention. This is an effort to prevent overbooking by individuals and groups. The non-refundable charge will be assessed at the time of booking.
During Tuesday and Wednesday business sessions, based on the recommendations of the General Board and reports from departmental directors, delegates took the following actions:
Amended…the By-Laws of the FWB Foundation.
Adjusted…the dates for the 2018 convention in Little Rock, Arkansas, to July 22-25.
Reaffirmed…the 1995 Resolution deploring all forms of racism, supported the official statement issued by the Executive Office, and recommended the Bible study Racism, the Bible, and the Church from Randall House.
Recommended…that beginning with the 2013 convention, a non-refundable, but transferable, first night’s hotel room charge be assessed at the time of booking.
Accepted…the David Marks Heritage Association as a member of the National Association and gave the district association a seat on the General Board.
Honored…Gary Fry, Glen Johnson, and Keith Woody for their service on the Executive Committee.
Thanked…Billy Walker for 10 years of service as convention usher coordinator and his wife Geneva for her volunteer work in registration.
Saluted…Monte McKenzie, Kevin Norris, and Keith Fletcher for their service on the Media Commission.
Heard…Master’s Men Director Ken Akers explain five years of extensive restoration at the Ridge Church in New Hampshire and watched a slide presentation of the Master’s Men Disaster Response Team ministering in Eastern Kentucky after a tornado hit the area.
Agreed…with FWB Foundation Director David Brown that the word that best describes the past 20 years is “miraculous,” noting the department’s assets have grown from $937,000 to $41 million. Brown projected that within five years the Foundation will begin providing grants to Free Will Baptist ministries.
Thanked…Ray Lewis for his first 30 years with the Board of Retirement, the past seven as director. Lewis reported $44 million in assets, 50 new participants enrolled in 2011, and active accounts topping 1,500.
Listened...to WNAC Executive Director Elizabeth Hodges announce that 828 people registered for the 2012 convention. WNAC restructured this year’s program in response to the results of a member survey requesting changes and broader workshop subjects.
Appreciated…efforts by the Media Commission to provide streaming access to convention services, watched by more than 1,200 viewers in nine countries. The commission may consider archiving services and workshops for historical purposes.
Received…copies of two pamphlets from the Historical Commission’s Heritage Series, Free Will Baptists and Total Abstinence and Free Will Baptists and Predestination, both written by Robert Picirilli.
Acknowledged…the Music Commission’s contributions to the success of the 2012 convention as the five-member commission presented an extensive program involving soloists, worship team, convention choir, small groups, and more. The commission also presented six educational seminars for church musicians.
Prayed…for Moderator Tim York as he began the business session with a devotional sermon from Proverbs 3 urging believers to trust God, walk by faith, and expect a direct path from God’s hand.
Focused…on Executive Secretary Keith Burden’s challenge that although Free Will Baptists have been faithful to fulfill the Great Commission, “We can do better, we should do better, we will do better.”
Elected…37 board and commission members, including general officers (4), Executive Committee (4), General Board (11), Randall House Board (3), International Missions Board (4), FWBBC Board of Trustees (3), Media Commission (3), Music Commission (2), Historical Commission (2), Commission for Theological Integrity (1).
Approved…a $24 million denominational budget: International Missions ($7 million), Randall House Publications ($5.2 million), Home Missions Department ($5 million), FWBBC ($4.7 million), Executive Office ($857,000), FWB Foundation ($521,000), Retirement and Insurance ($475,000), Master’s Men ($145,000), Commission for Theological Integrity ($7,900), Music Commission ($4,100), Historical Commission ($3,560), Media Commission ($3,000).
Voted…to disburse funds from The Together Way Plan to national agencies on the following basis: underwrite the Executive Office Administrative Budget above designated gifts, not to exceed 45% of cooperative gifts. Disburse the balance of cooperative gifts—FWBBC (23%), International Missions (23%), Home Missions (18%), Retirement and Insurance (14%), Master’s Men (14%), FWB Foundation (6%), Commission for Theological Integrity (0.5%), Historical Commission (0.5%), Music Commission (0.5%), Media Commission (0.5%).
Thanked…the Tennessee State Association for hosting the 2012 national convention. This marked the second time the convention has met in Memphis—the first was in 2002.
Celebrated…with Home Missions Director Larry Powell when he announced eight new and recent mission projects, three missions reaching self-supporting status, three Hispanic Bible institutes, four Hispanic training centers in the U.S.A., nine military chaplains, and a $42 million CELF fund.
Marked…the 2012 convention as the 50th year of publishing for Randall House Publications. The department has published 65,000 lessons since 1962 and continues to publish 390 new lessons every quarter. The agency typically publishes 14-16 books each year, but plans to reduce the number of new titles in 2012 and reprint previous Randall House books. Executive Director/CEO Ron Hunter reported increased book sales from the D6 Conference. The agency modernized its production plant with over $2 million in equipment purchases over nine years.
Cheered…when International Missions announced a record-breaking World Missions Offering topping $944,000. General Director Clint Morgan thanked Free Will Baptists for stepping up financially at a time when economic factors forced the Mission to keep some missionaries stateside instead of returning to the field.
Amended…The Hanna Project By-Laws as recommended by the International Missions Board.
Agreed…that FWBBC could change its denominational emphasis month from December to February, effective 2013.
Registered…5,510 attendees for the three concurrent conventions, including 605 ordained ministers.
Changed…the name of the denomination’s flagship educational institution from Free Will Baptist Bible College to Welch College, following a 25-minute discussion. The name change becomes effective immediately. The name “Welch College” was recommended by the FWBBC Board of Trustees and arose from the life and ministry of Reverend John L Welch (first moderator of the National Association of Free Will Baptists) and his wife Mary.
Wept…as a plaque was presented to Wanda Spears, widow of Chaplain David Spears who died on Christmas Day 2011. Chaplain Terry Austin spoke briefly about David Spears, reminding attendees that “He touched the lives of people. He never quit.” Chaplain Spears served five combat tours with the U.S. Army. The congregation gave an extended standing ovation.
Presented…plaques to Edwin Hayes for 24 years on the Randall House Board, to Randy Wilson for 12 years on the FWBIM Board, to Debbie Griffin for 26 years of service in Japan, to Stan and Brenda Bunch for 29 years of service in Panama.
Thundered…approval as International Missions General Director Clint Morgan announced that as a result of increased financial support, “Our missionaries can now all go home!” Several missionaries had been kept stateside after the December 2011 board decision.
Bowed…in memory of FWBIM Board member Paul Creech who died after 25 years of service as a missionary in Japan and Ivory Coast, and service on the board.
Honored…Tom Sass for 40 years of service at FWBBC, much of that time as the college’s chief financial officer. The college also displayed a plaque honoring A.C. Allen for 12 years of service on the college’s Board of Trustees.
Stopped…to remember 50 years of leadership provided by Leroy Forlines on the Commission for Theological Integrity. Forlines was elected to the commission in 1962 and served as chairman most of the past five decades. Delegates responded with a prolonged standing ovation when Forlines was presented a large framed print of several pamphlets (pictured below), and his wife Fay received a bouquet of roses. He told delegates: “Old soldiers may fade away, but old theologians don’t.”
Welcomed…a video during the Obituary Committee report featuring names and photos of Free Will Baptist ministers who died in 2011.
Adjourned…At 2:58 p.m. to meet July 21-24, 2013, in Tampa, Florida.
Convention at a Glance
National Association – 3,314
National Youth Conference – 4,174
WNAC – 828
Total* – 5,510
*Individuals. Some attendees register for more than one convention.
Sunday School – Thomas Bee (AL)
Sunday Morning – Garnett Reid (TN)
Sunday Evening – Paul Bryant (MS)
Monday Evening – Mike Gladson (TN)
Preaching Conference -
Rick Cash (AL),
Milton Worthington (NC)
Tuesday Evening – Jon Cannon (IL)
Wednesday Evening – Ernie Lewis (IL)
Executive Office – $857, 907
FWBBC (Welch) – $4,790,793
FWB Foundation – $521,177
Home Missions – $5,000,000
International Missions – $7,000,000
Master’s Men – $145,443
Retirement and Insurance – $475,000
Randall House – $5,217,000
Theological Commission – $7,900
Historical Commission – $3,560
Media Commission – $3,000
Music Commission – $4,100
Total – $24,025,880
Elected in Memphis
General Board (2015)
North Carolina: Billy Keith
Northeast: Jim Nason
Northwest: Brent Nix
Ohio: Edwin Hayes
Oklahoma: Mike Wade
South Carolina: Todd Smith
Tennessee: Glenn Poston
Texas: Keith Woody
Virginia: Glen Johnson
West Virginia: Luther Morgan
Missouri: Stan Bunch - 2014
Stan Bunch (MO) – 2014
Glenn Poston (TN) – 2015
Mike Wade (OK) – 2018
Todd Smith (SC) – 2018
Mark Braisher (OK) – 2018
Mike Mounts (OH) – 2018
Mike Trimble (MI) – 2018
Janice Banks (OK) - 2014
Nelson Henderson (AR) – 2018
Mark Price (OH) – 2018
Brad Ransom (OK) – 2018
Free Will Baptist Bible College
Will Beauchamp (FL) – 2018
Ken Simpson (MO) – 2018
Mark Stripling (AR) – 2018
Commission for Theological Integrity
Kevin Hester (TN) - 2017
Eric Thomsen (TN) – 2015
Jack Williams (TN) – 2017
Kevin Justice (NC) – 2014
Doug Little (TN) – 2017
Stephen Lopes (TN) – 2013
Josh Owens (TN) – 2014
Mark Neppl (VA) – 2017
Moderator: Tim York (TN)
Assistant Moderator: William Smith (GA)
Clerk: Randy Bryant (FL)
Assistant Clerk: Ernie Lewis (IL)
Mike Wade (OK) – Chairman
Larry Reynolds (MS)
Tim Owen (FL)
Will Harmon (AR)
Ron Helms (MI)
Stan Bunch (MO)
Jeff Davis (TN)
Editorial: Eric Thomsen, Jack Williams,
Sarah Fletcher, Danny Conn, Stephen Nelson, Deborah St. Lawrence, Phyllis York, and Matthew Collum
Photography: Sandra Akers, Rodney Yerby, Thomas Yerby