State Board elects church planting missionary, explores partnership with Eastern Cuba
Feb 20, 2013
By BARBARA DENMAN
Florida Baptist Convention

POWELL
LEESBURG—(FBC) During its Feb. 7 meeting at Lake Baptist Conference Center, the State Board of Missions elected a church planting missionary and laid groundwork for a partnership with the Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention. 

In other action, the 99-member Board struggled with a budget deficit for 2012 (see related story), adopted a $1 million goal for the 2013 Maguire State Mission Offering and learned of the default on the sale of Blue Springs Baptist Conference Center.

Jeffrey Powell of High Springs was employed in the newly created position of church planting missionary for the Panhandle area. The position, underwritten in part by the North American Mission Board, will focus on the emerging growth opportunities in the Panhandle and strengthen the Convention’s church planting strategy. 

A native of Morgan City, La., Powell, 38, has served as pastor of the Fellowship Church in High Springs since April 2007. Prior to that he was an itinerant missionary in New Orleans where he planted the Destiny Place Church and served several Louisiana churches in Metairie, Turkey Creek and Eunice.  

Powell received the bachelor of arts degree from Louisiana College in Pineville in 1998 and the master of divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 2002. He will assume his position effective immediately.

In other personnel action, the Board eliminated two vacant Board elected staff positions: team strategist of the Collegiate Ministry Team and Baptist campus minister at Florida A&M University. 

The partnership with the Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention (Convencion Bautista de Cuba Oriental), is expected to be similar to the 17-year partnership Florida Baptists have had with the Western Cuba Baptist Convention. The Eastern Convention is based in Santiago, while the Western Convention in based in Havana. 

In January, a team of state staff, accompanied by two Florida-based International Missions Board missionaries, met with 14 members of the Eastern Cuba Convention to learn of needs of the churches and resources Florida Baptists could offer. 

The state staff found the Cuba Convention, composed of 339 churches and 321 pastors, to be committed and passionate leaders with a heart for evangelism, church planting and theological education, said Craig Culbreth, lead strategist of the Convention’s Missional Support Group who traveled with the team. 

A subsequent letter from Joel Luis Dupont, executive president of the Eastern Convention, invited Florida Baptists to continue to pursue the development of the partnership. 

In authorization given by the Board, Convention staff will continue to explore the partnership with the purpose of a defined agreement. 

The Board adopted a one million dollar goal for the 2013 Maguire State Mission Offering to benefit 22 ministries that underwrite evangelistic, church starting and compassionate ministry and mission activities developed by the Convention program staff. 

Recipients of the annual statewide offering taken in September include new churches, partnership missions projects, mission outreach ministries, developing believers through camps and student evangelism outreach. 

Board members learned that receipts for the 2012 Maguire State Mission Offering fell well below the one million dollar goal. A total of $846,204 was given by 816 contributing churches, which was $36,628 or four percent less than the $882,832 received in 2011 and only 84.6 percent of the goal. The distribution of $38,016 in offering proceeds as associational shared receipts was authorized for18 participating associations that met or exceeded their offering goals. 

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