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Not Business as Usual

DEARBORN, Mich.—Messengers attending the business session at the 2013 GARBC Conference were expecting the usual: a financial report, a few resolutions, a promotional video or two. Then came the bombshell—a developer had approached the association, offering to buy its Schaumburg property. After discussion, the messengers voted to authorize the GARBC’s Council of Eighteen to negotiate the sale.

The proposal came in the form of a motion from the Council of Eighteen, presented by Bernie Augsburger, council chair. Michael Nolan, the GARBC’s director of business administration, explained how the association’s Meacham Road property had gained value over the years, situated on what became a key retail corridor near Schaumburg’s Woodfield Mall. Nolan estimated the property’s value at $4.3 to $4.5 million, primarily because of its location. By selling the current property and moving to an existing building in nearby manufacturing/business corridor, the association would pay off its existing mortgage and net a significant profit.

Because the project could be under way well before the next GARBC Conference, the Council of Eighteen presented Tuesday’s motion to give them formal authority to negotiate a property sale and purchase. The GARBC Constitution requires that the acquisition or disposition of property be authorized by a majority vote of messengers at any annual meeting, or by a mail referendum majority vote of the fellowshipping churches.

Bernie Augsburger explained that though the developer had presented the offer only a week ago, it was not unexpected. Understanding the retail development around the Schaumburg property, the council had been discussing this possibility for several years.

Financial Report

The decision to negotiate the property sale was not motivated by financial difficulty. Prior to the property sale discussion, Michael Nolan gave a detailed report on GARBC finances, describing 2013 as a flat year.

“And a flat year can be a good year!” Nolan says of the recovering national economy and its impact on the GARBC’s finances.

Every two years the GARBC receives a full audit from Capin Crouse, certified public accountants. The fiscal year that ended on April 30 is the year between, meaning that Capin Crouse performs a formal review but not a full audit. Nolan recommends that nonprofit ministries alternate full audits with formal reviews as a cost-effective way of implementing independent financial review.

The GARBC did not borrow any money on revolving debt in 2013, Nolan says. The GARBC negotiated a favorable renewal on its mortgage, and also allocated money to its employee pension plan.

Cash assets increased somewhat over 2012, but sales from Regular Baptist Press have dropped somewhat, which Nolan attributed to the lingering effects of the economy and increased competition. But the drop in sales was met with a similar reduction in expenses.

National Representative Report

“As national representative, I’m never satisfied with the status quo,” John Greening says. Now in his 17thyear as the GARBC’s national representative, Greening reported on the new Regular Baptist Web Community, part of the association’s strategy to provide online resources for pastors and churches.

Greening also announced the development of new digital formats for the Baptist Bulletin magazine, allowing readers to subscribe on Kindle, iPod, and Android devices. The project is expected to be released by the end of the year, along with new group subscription plans. A survey was distributed later, asking conference guests to evaluate which group subscription plan would be most valuable for their church.

Doctrinal Statements

The afternoon business session also featured several votes related to the GARBC’s doctrinal beliefs. Messengers approved two statements, “Resolution on Renewal of the Spiritual Mind” and “Resolution on Biblical Hermeneutics.” These will be read during the evening sessions, and are available as PDFs for distribution to churches. Messengers also approved two amendments to the GARBC Articles of Faith, clarifying the association’s position on marriage and church leadership.

Tom Alexander, outgoing chair of the Council of Eighteen policy committee, read another amendment to the GARBC Articles of Faith, for potential approval at the 2014 GARBC Conference in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The council’s intent was to clarify 10 uses of “man” or “men” in the doctrinal statement—instances where the usage is not intended to be gender-specific. For instance, where the current statement says “all men are descended from the historical Adam and Eve,” the council is recommending a change to “all people are descended . . .”

“Our goal with this amendment is to bring the non-gender-specific references to man into line with the remainder of the Articles of Faith, and to clarify those times when the word man refers to males,” says Tom Alexander.

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