Miami church-planting family commitment embodies State Board decisions
Feb 20, 2014
By BARBARA DENMAN
Florida Baptist Convention

CHURCH PLANTER Tim Maynard (l), president of the State Board of Missions, prays for Derek Allen and his family. Allen is a new Miami-area church planter. FLBaptist photo
LEESBURG (FLBaptist)—The words of a child brought a personal perspective to the actions and decisions made by the State Board of Missions during its Feb. 7 meeting at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center when five-year-old Jackson Allen took to the microphone.

“We moved to Miami to tell people about Jesus,” the youngster told the Board, “by planting a church called Christ Centered Church.”  

Jackson, his dad Derek, mother Lindsay, and siblings Meredith, 3, and Sawyer, 10 months, shared their testimony of how God called them from a church in Alabama to start a church in Miami, despite knowing no one there and little about the city. 

On Feb. 9, the Allen family launched C2 Church on the north campus of Florida International University after having visited hundreds of homes and making 75,000 contacts.

“Florida Baptists have been a key part in this,” Derek Allen explained, “helping us learn the city and being family.” The Florida Baptist 

Convention’s Urban Impact Center staff in Hialeah supported him in his efforts along the way and provided accommodations for mission teams to help plant the church, he added. 

The Allens were invited to the meeting by Al Fernandez, lead strategist of the Convention’s Church Planting Group, who also introduced the church planting team, a collection of “great diversity,” he explained. The staff included five Hispanics, two Haitians, an African, an African-American and three Anglos, he said, “representing one of the best church-planting teams in the nation.”  

At the conclusion of the report, the church-planting group laid hands on the young family while Tim Maynard, president of the Florida Baptist State Convention, led them in prayer.

NEW EDITOR Randy Huckabee (r), recording secretary for the State Board of Missions and pastor, First Baptist Church, Dade City, and chairman of the Florida Baptist Witness board of directors, introduces Kevin Bumgarner, new Florida Baptist Witness executive editor, Feb. 7 at the SBOM meeting . FLBaptist photo
In other business, Board members heard from Gary Yeldell, the Convention’s attorney of record, about plans to appeal a sexual abuse lawsuit that found the Convention negligent in providing funding for a pastor who served two mission churches in Lake County, despite the jury conceding that the pastor was never an employee of the Convention. In a second trial to determine financial liability, the jury awarded $12.5 million to the plaintiff.

At this time, the Convention and its insurance carrier intend to appeal the liability and damage verdict. 

Yeldell expressed confidence that “the appellant court will overturn the jury’s verdict,” he said, “based on the jury’s express findings [the pastor] was an independent pastor who was not hired, employed or supervised by the Convention.”

John Sullivan, Convention executive director-treasurer, assured the Board that “regardless of the outcome of the trial and appeal to come, we cannot let this case hinder our efforts to support church-planting efforts in our state.”

Citing the example of the Allens’ commitment to plant new churches, Sullivan, calling the family a “breath of fresh air” and emphasized, “we are not going to stop doing the right thing just because of this lawsuit.”

In other business, the Board learned that Cooperative Program receipts for 2013 of $30,199,175 were $800,824 below the $31 million budget.

Sullivan explained that he had found other sources to fund the $330,000 budget shortfall proportioned to the Convention if needed in 2014. “We believe the Cooperative Program is going to turn around in 2014 and will do anything we can to help it turn around,” he added. 

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