Before going to El Paso,
check new messenger requirements
___By Marv Knox
___Members and contributions both must be considered when churches tabulate how many messengers they may send to the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual session in El Paso Nov. 8-9.
___A new formula for qualifying messengers to the BGCT annual session goes into effect this year, after receiving convention approval the past two years. Information detailing the new formula, complete with a chart for determining messenger totals, has been mailed to the churches.
___Under the old formula, church size was the primary factor in determining how many messengers a church could send to the BGCT annual session. But the new formula also takes into account the degree to which the church supports the state convention's official budget.
___Some churches have expressed confusion, apparently believing that either membership or financial contributions would enable them to qualify for up to 25 messengers.
___Here's how the new plan works:
___ Messengers must come from "regular, missionary Baptist churches that shall voluntarily cooperate with other churches of like faith in the work and purposes" of the BGCT.
___ An affiliated church may send two messengers if it has from 1 to 150 members, even if it did not contribute any money to the BGCT.
___ A church may send an additional two messengers (for a total of four) if it also contributed $250 to the convention's adopted budget during the previous fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 1998.
___ A church may send one additional messenger for each additional 100 members or "major fractional part thereof" and for each $1,000 given to the BGCT budget last year. Convention officials stressed that the new BGCT constitution formula states that both of these factors--membership and contributions--must be considered.
___ A church can qualify for up to 25 messengers.
___ All contributions used for calculation of messengers are based on contributions to the Texas Baptist adopted budget during the previous fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 1998.
___Messengers must be elected by their churches. They need to present properly endorsed registration cards and proof of identity to register at the annual session in El Paso.
___Current messenger registration cards must be ordered through the BGCT executive director's office, either by returning the messenger-request card that was included in the recent mailout or by calling (214) 828-5289. Cards from previous annual sessions will not be valid.
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