Florida’s Imagine If Task Force pledges ‘clear direction’
Apr 29, 2010
By JONI B. HANNIGAN
Managing Editor

JACKSONVILLE (FBW)—Florida’s Imagine If Great Commission Task Force met twice this Spring and is “moving forward” in reaching a consensus of priorities to present to Florida’s State Board of Missions at its May board meeting, according to task force chairman Danny de Armas.

De Armas, administrative pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, told Florida Baptist Witness the task force, which was authorized by messengers to the Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting in November to study ways Florida Baptists can more effectively fulfill the Great Commission, met March 16 and April 12.

De Armas’ comments came in an interview with the Witness before the task force released a “rough draft” of its priorities on its website on April 28.

The priorities, de Armas said, “do not differ significantly from where we’ve been as a Convention but they do differ enough to provide us clear direction going forward that meets the needs of a changing environment, a changing state, and all the different things going on … here in Florida.”

De Armas said he is encouraged about ongoing dialogue between members of the task force and John Sullivan, the executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, and the president of the SBOM, Tim Maynard.

Describing discussions as “very positive,” de Armas said they have not been “without some fun discussion, but I’m more encouraged today than I’ve been since we began,” he said.

The task force currently is involved in how the recommendations it produces will be presented and implemented, de Armas said.

“I don’t want the task force to go to the effort that we’ve gone to and it not produce any results as far as change goes. We need to make sure that the recommendations that we make, if approved by the Convention in November, are implemented,” he said.

De Armas said the task force has been on a learning curve in each of its meetings.

“The Florida Baptist Convention is a big organization and as is necessarily cumbersome in its structure and so we are trying to make sure … we understand the way this is going to unfold and that we are prepared for it.”

Whatever recommendations surface, de Armas said the changes that the task force has in mind “will be more than one day, one vote.”

“A significant change like we are proposing takes time,” de Armas said. “You don’t do it in one day, one vote and what we will watch at the convention this year is the beginning of it.”

And by the time the Convention arrives, de Armas predicts there will be a consensus about the proposed changes.

“The steps that we take will be bold, impressive and exciting for Florida Baptists,” de Armas said. “My hope is that it will provide for us some new opportunities and energy to fulfill the Great Commission and to give all of our churches greater confidence than ever before that when you give through the Cooperative Program into the Florida Baptist Convention, the money you give is making a difference in helping people come to Christ.”

About the Southern Baptist Convention’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force which released a “progress report” in February, de Armas said he is “eager” to learn what its final recommendations will be May 3.

“I’m encouraged by what I see, but so far, to be honest, it’s a little vague as to how it impacts Florida Baptists and our task force came away from viewing their recommendations at the national level and said we cannot be vague in what we are trying to set forth,” de Armas said. “We must be crystal clear in what it is we are trying to accomplish and any change we are trying to recommend.”

While de Armas said he is supportive of the process and concept of the national GCR, he believes the funding structure in the preliminary report “created more questions that it did anything.”

De Armas said he plans to meet with Sullivan soon after the final recommendations of the national GCR are released so that “he and I can get on the same page as we begin to advance forward as to how Florida will respond to the national GCR recommendations.”

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