The initial session of the 2017 Baptist Convention of New Mexico Annual Meeting at First Baptist Church, Bloomfield, began on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 24, with 179 messengers and 130 visitors registered since Monday afternoon. Lamar Morin, BCNM Leadership Development Team leader led messengers in singing several hymns: Victory in Jesus, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus/Power in the Blood and How Wonderful, How Marvelous. Morin said, "We join together ... as a unique family, singing together, focusing on Jesus' incredible Gospel." Morin was formerly the worship pastor at the church and later served as the church's pastor.

BCNM President John Hinze called the convention's 104th Annual Meeting to order. He told messengers and visitors that "we want to be a blessing to you, we want to challenge your heart, we want to encourage you, we want to laugh with you, we want to cry with you and we want to just praise our almighty Lord and Savior together." Then, he introduced Monty Mullenix, First Baptist's pastor, who led an opening prayer.

Next, BCNM Executive Director Joseph Bunce asked the Southern Baptist Convention agency representatives who were present to bring greetings and a brief report. LifeWay's Ralph Tone described the new LifeWay Christian Resources building and invited everyone to visit. He said LifeWay staff will move into the building next month. The new offices are still located in Nashville, Tenn. He also shared about services and resources LifeWay offers. He finished by presenting a gift from the organization to Hinze.

Professor Tommy Kiker, from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, invited everyone who will be attending next summer's 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Dallas to visit the campus for a tour of the facilities. He reported that the seminary has memorialized 25 Southern Baptist martyrs in a “Martyrs’ Walk” outside its newest building, Mathena Hall. The new "Martyrs' Walk" features plaques identifying each martyr and giving the circumstances of their deaths. The seminary, Kiker said, hopes the walk will remind visitors of the cost that sharing their faith might require of them.

Randy Overstreet, from the North American Mission Board, reported that the most recent Annie Armstrong Offering was the largest ever received, almost $60 million. He also thanked New Mexico Baptists for their participation in disaster relief efforts in recent disasters. According to Overstreet, NAMB is asking every pastor to lead his church to initiate more Gospel conversations. Minsters and church members willing to accept the challenge can register their effort at GCChallenge.com. He also reminded messengers to pray for church planters. For help, he suggested visiting PrayForPlanters.com online, choose a location and regularly pray for that locations church planting teams.

Gateway Seminary's Greg Cole,  the Online TFE Coordinator, recounted how the seminary recently moved its entire main campus from the Mill Valley, Calif., near San Francisco, to a new location and facility in Ontario, Calif. The seminary still has a total of six campuses, including an online campus. He reported how New Mexico's Gateway-affiliated Contextualized Leadership Development Centers are transitioning to being called Advance Centers - still affiliated with Gateway. Advance centers, like CLD Centers, focus on Advancing God's Kingdom, he said. 

Gordon Fort, senior ambassador for the president at the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, shared greetings from both National WMU and the International Mission Board. He told how he was born on the mission field and attended WMU meetings with his mother. Over 33 years, Fort has served in several different capacities. He thanked Baptists for their support, saying, "Together we can do a lot more than any one of us alone."

Paul Sadler, from Wayland Baptist University, greeted messengers and celebrated the university's 20 years of campuses in Albuquerque and Clovis. He announced a law enforcement scholarship that provides $1,000 per academic term to any law enforcement officer, spouse or their dependent child. "We believe this is an underserved and underappreciated population," he said.

O.S. Hawkins, GuideStone Financial Resources president and CEO, shared greetings via video. "Do well. Do right. Do more" was his message. "GuideStone remains committed to providing healthcare coverage that reflects your values and protects your pocketbook," he said. Next year, GuideStone will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Kevin Parker is the Baptist Convention of New Mexico's director of media services. Among other responsibilities, he serves as editor of the Baptist New Mexican and its online news portal, GoBNM.com.

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