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NASHVILLE (BP)—The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee approved Tuesday (Feb. 19) two SBC entities’ requests regarding work in China and Canada.
Committee members unanimously approved a request by LifeWay Christian Resources to form LifeWay Global, a for-profit subsidiary that will make Bibles, Bible study materials and training materials available to churches and Christians in China.
Executive Committee members also unanimously approved a request by the North American Mission Board to form NAMB Canada, a nonprofit corporation that will make it easier for NAMB to continue to expand its church planting work in Canada. Currently, NAMB must direct its Canadian ministry efforts through the Canadian National Baptist Convention. Forming the nonprofit will allow NAMB to directly hire employees, rent office space and purchase property as needed.
Gerry Taillon, the Canadian National Baptist Convention’s ministry leader, expressed support for the proposal. The corporation will be funded solely by NAMB and will have five board members—three Canadian citizens and two U.S. citizens. Canadian law requires that nonprofits be governed by a board whose majority is comprised of Canadian citizens. Passage of any matter would require the votes of four of the five members. To change the bylaws, it would require five votes.
During subcommittee discussion of the proposal, NAMB President Kevin Ezell said the mission board has a good working relationship with the Canadian convention, but NAMB’s increased focus on reaching Canada means more church plants and more personnel, which would create an increasing administrative workload for the CNBC. The formation of NAMB Canada would remove that problem, Ezell said.
NAMB’s ministry assignment encompasses two countries: Canada and the United States.
Executive Committee members approved a recommendation from GuideStone Financial Resources that would allow it to offer its investment and insurance products and services to like-minded individuals. Under the proposal, to be placed before messengers at the SBC annual meeting in June, GuideStone would create two new affiliate companies that would be controlled by and answer to GuideStone’s trustees, much as its current affiliates do.
The Dallas-based board, which provides retirement, insurance, property and casualty and investment opportunities to Southern Baptist churches, affiliated ministries and their employees, has served approved like-minded evangelical churches and organizations for nearly a decade. GuideStone also sponsors Mission: Dignity, a ministry that provides financial assistance for retired Southern Baptist ministers and their widows who need financial assistance in their declining years.
Under the proposed expansion of its ministry assignment, GuideStone would begin making its mutual funds, which garnered key finance industry awards last year, available to Southern Baptist church members and other eligible evangelical Christians sometime in 2014. GuideStone also is studying potential insurance products and services it could make available. During the presentation before the Executive Committee, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said the initiative is “the capstone of GuideStone 100, our long-range strategic plan, for which we have been praying and working toward for several years.”
After the meeting, Hawkins emphasized the motivation behind the request for a change in ministry assignment, stating that GuideStone is committed “to further enhance the financial security of the SBC pastor at the crossroads by producing additional economies of scale and helping to undergird the coming needs of our Mission:Dignity program fueled by a massive baby boomer generation who is retiring within the next 15 years. ... We are only requesting the opportunity to serve a larger audience because we firmly believe it will enhance our ability to serve our Southern Baptist pastors in a more cost-effective manner for the long-term.”
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