The Baptist Convention of New Mexico's 2017 Annual Meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24. The convention will meet at the facilities of First Baptist Church, Bloomfield, 200 West Sycamore Ave. The church lies at the intersection of US Highways 550 and 64. The location lies in the Four Corners region of northwest New Mexico.
Messenger registration began Monday afternoon in the church's lobby at the meeting's Registration Reception. “I like seeing everybody and finding out what is going on,” says Shirley Disert, messenger from Rio Mimbres Baptist Church, located in the state's southwestern region near Silver City. Shirley started attending the Annual Meeting to participate in the WMU Annual Meeting, the meeting before the official convention meeting begins. She said she continues to attend as often as she can. This year, she drove to Bloomfield with fellow church member and messenger Sharon Meyers. Sharon said she has attended a few other annual meetings and wanted to attend this year because, “I felt like I was losing touch with what was going on at the state level.”
Even before the formal convention meeting began First Baptist's campus bustled with activity as convention staff and other entities set up displays and registration began. Joel Gunn, the church's executive pastor said, “It is a pleasure and a joy to show hospitality to the people from all over the state.” He consulted with the BCNM staff and helped make plans ahead of the event. He and Monty Mullenix, the church's senior pastor, "have been key in assisting the BCNM team with set-up," a BCNM spokesman said. FBC Worship Pastor Daniel Elias and Media Director Kyle Lloyd were also busy helping convention staff with the event's technical requirements.
First Baptist has a special connection to the BCNM through two convention staff members. Executive Director Joseph Bunce and Leadership Development Team Leader Lamar Morin served together at the church while Bunce was pastor and Morin was worship pastor. Later, Morin pastored the church. Bunce joined the BCNM staff first. Eventually, Morin joined the BCNM staff, too.
Church leaders say the church is very connected to its community. From its beginning in 1952, it has grown to a campus of seven buildings across five acres. Over time, they added a new sanctuary, a gym, transitional housing for single parents, and a community garden with 100 raised beds. Members also serve a weekly community dinner that is free to anyone who attends. This past year, 40 percent of the children attending the church's VBS had no church connection. The church's staff said the VBS situation emphasizes the need for the community focus.
State convention staff say they value having the annual convention meeting in a local church. “We love having the Annual Meeting at a church because the concept of the BCNM is a convention of churches,” Bunce said. “Moving the meeting location around the state is critical because it allows local church members to participate in the convention.” Another church will host next year's 2018 Annual Meeting: Mesilla Park Community Church, Las Cruces.
The theme of the 2017 Annual Meeting is “Family United in Confusing Times.” BCNM President John Hinze, pastor of First Baptist Church, Tucumcari, explained, ”I wanted this convention to be an extension of the encouragement of the Ministers & Family Retreat,” which occurred this past July. The MFR is a once-every-three-years event the convention organizes to "love on" the pastoral staff in churches all across the state. Every minister is invited. The cost is nominal and is covered by most churches.
Hinze said he recently read the book "Church Unique," by Will Mancini. He said Mancini proposes a visioning process that leads to impacting culture. After his experience with the convention's Ministers and Family Retreat, Hinze extended and applied Mancini's concepts into the realm of building up Christian families. “During these confusing times, we are working with kids in my area to teach about good families,” he said. "Michael Catt, our speaker Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, has a ministry heart for reaching and impacting families."