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Happy New Year! I hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday season as we reflect on the goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His blessing this past year. I look forward to the great things that God has in store for each of you and the churches of the BCM/D in 2023 and beyond.

Each New Year, people around the world makes what is known as “New Year’s Resolutions.” But did you know that, according to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year's resolutions is said to be about 80 percent? Most people lose their resolve by mid-February. When asked what a New Year’s Resolution was, one person responded, “It’s a to-do list for the first week of January.”

While the reasons vary, one of the top responses given when people were asked why their resolution failed was, “they were not ready to change.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we demonstrate the greatest change, the greatest transformation that the world will ever see. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit does spiritual heart surgery on you, and you are changed from the inside out. There is simply no greater change than that.

While it is good for us to reflect back on the past year and refocus our goals and priorities for the upcoming year, there is no greater priority than keeping Christ at the center of our lives. God’s Word encourages us to regularly reflect on our lives and focus on Jesus. Colossians 3:1-4 says:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (ESV)

I believe what has happened in the world today, what has happened in individuals’ lives, families lives and the culture in general is that we have taken our eyes off Jesus. Jesus is no longer the center of most people’s lives. In many instances, He is put last. Everything else takes priority over Jesus and His Church. If we desire to “seek the things that are above,” we must put a priority on the spiritual disciplines, the spiritual habits of the faith.

In order to put Christ at the center of your lives, you must make Christ the center of all that you say and do. This means practicing those spiritual habits and putting them as a priority in your lives. You cannot let the world dictate to you what to do. You cannot let the world and all of its allure and attractions be victorious. Parents, grandparents and family members need to wake up to the fact that the world is winning. We need to wake up to the fact that too many people love the things of the world too much.


Now don’t get me wrong, there are some things that are good in the world. But Christ says put them second. He says put ME first. Why? Because Jesus is the best, and as mathematicians and theologians will tell us: BEST is Greater than Good! In Matthew 6:33 Jesus reminds us to, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” So what then are some ways that we can put Christ at the center of our lives here in 2023 and beyond?

In his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” Donald S. Whitney’s points out 12 Habits that the Christ Follower should be committed to. These habits are centered on the theme from 1 Timothy 4:7, which states, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” They include habits such as: Scripture reading, prayer, worship, Scripture meditation, evangelism, serving, stewardship of time and money, Scripture application, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling and learning.

If we commit ourselves to these and other spiritual Habits throughout the year, we will be well on our way in keeping Christ at the center of our lives. I encourage you to take some time to do a spiritual checkup on your life. Use these disciplines and habits as a gage to determine whether you are spiritually healthy or spiritually sick. Ask yourself questions such as: Does the way I pray, handle my finances, respond to pressure, stand for truth, and express my worship, reveal that Christ is at the center of your life?

Do your thoughts of God glorify God or grieve him? Do your prayers to God bless him or insult him? Does your giving show you trust God enough to give him your offerings and believe he will meet all of your needs? If you find yourself on the unhealthy side of this spiritual check-up, ask yourself what changes are necessary to take your walk with the Lord to the next level this year. A Christ-Centered person means that you acknowledge Jesus as the ultimate authority in your life - and you voluntarily yield the control of your life to Him.

Maryland and Delaware Baptists, keeping Christ at the center of our lives is something that we should all resolve to do. When we make Jesus the centerpiece of our life, we are able to see clearly what’s truly important. That we serve a GREAT and Mighty God! My prayer is that this particular resolution will never fizzle out. The world needs to witness what true change looks like, and that can only happen when they see Jesus working in and through your lives. So let’s resolve to Keep Christ at the Center of our lives in 2023 and beyond! Amen!

Please know that I love you all and I am praying for you. If there are any specific prayer requests that you have and/or anything that I can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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As the churches of the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware (BCM/D) gather in Ocean City, MD for our 2022 annual meeting, I want to say what an honor it has been to serve as your President this past year. These are exciting days in the life of our convention and we have much to celebrate and much to be thankful for. In this season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded of Psalm 100:1-5 which says,

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

As Christ Followers, this Psalm should be the attitude of our heart. We serve a great and mighty God who gave us the greatest gift of all time – salvation through His only begotten son - Jesus Christ. Because of our relationship with Jesus, we can enjoy His presence, His promises and His power every day that we live. He is the King of Kings, the Lord or Lords, the Creator of all things - and yet we can have a personal relationship with Him. As the popular chorus and response reminds us, “God is good ALL THE TIME; All the time GOD IS GOOD.”

The goodness of God has certainly been evident throughout the BCM/D this past year. As our annual meeting adjourned last November at the First Baptist Church of Laurel, the BCM/D staff, churches and volunteers continued to work faithfully in moving the Great Commission forward. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Under the leadership of then Interim Executive Director Mark Dooley, and Associate Director Tom Stolle, the initiatives of Vision 2025 and the Sexual Abuse Task Force were implemented. The “Pathways Prevention and Protection” training sessions were developed and presented at various locations throughout our convention to help educate and assist churches in placing a high priority of “Caring Well for the Vulnerable.”

During this time, the Executive Director Search Committee, under the chairmanship and guidance of Pastor Tim Simpson, continued their process of searching for our next Executive Director. After months of prayer, planning and deliberation, the committee presented Brother Michael Crawford’s name for consideration to the Administrative Committee. On March 17, 2022, the BCM/D General Mission Board (GMB) met and unanimously approved Brother Michael as our new Executive Director.

While many of us have gotten to know Brother Michael over the past eight years, I especially appreciate his passion for prayer. The primary strategy for the BCM/D is prayer. In one of his first tasks as Executive Director, Michael helped create a prayer room/prayer wall at our convention headquarters in Columbia. Those that visit Columbia can share requests and praises on the prayer wall and be assured that they are prayed over weekly. Oswald Chambers once said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” Praise God for a collective body of churches, partners and a BCM/D staff who have a passion for Prayer!


This year we are also celebrating the 50th anniversary of Skycroft Conference Center in Middletown, Maryland. Throughout the years, Skycroft has welcomed Maryland and Delaware Baptists with open arms. We rejoice with the thousands of people who have come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior through the ministry of Skycroft. To God Be the Glory! While the pandemic has brought many challenges the past two years, God has been gracious and has helped sustain the viability of Skycroft. This past summer, (2022) the number of campers attending Skycroft exceeded pre-pandemic numbers. While there remains some challenges ahead, I am thankful that, through it all, Sister Emily Reedy and the staff at Skycroft have demonstrated and put into practice Psalm 100:2 by “serving the Lord with gladness.”

The Lord has also been good in many other areas of the convention as well. Among other things, we give thanks to the Lord for the success of our “Celebrate Abilities Weekend Camp” for children and young adults with disabilities. This was the second year that your BCM/D partnered with the Banquet Network in hosting the camp at Skycroft. We also celebrate a new initiative from our Disaster Relief Team called BCM/D Ready. This initiative is designed to position our churches to be able to more effectively respond to natural disasters and community needs. I am also thankful to see pastors and their wives being ministered to and cared for and in seeing churches strengthened and on mission for Christ throughout our convention.

Other areas to give thanks for is a renewed passion for partnership with the 11 local associations of the BCM/D. From the mountains to the shores to everywhere in between, we have over 400 churches in our convention that are truly “better together.” The reports of salvations, baptisms and spiritual growth in our convention of churches is truly a blessing. The vision of mobilizing churches on mission that make new disciples, who love each other and their community, who develops leaders and sends church planters and missionaries out is encouraging. During this year’s annual meeting, you will hear more about these and many other initiatives, programs and training opportunities that we can celebrate, communicate and collaborate together.

Alex Halley, the author of "Roots," had an unusual painting hanging on his office wall. It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post. When asked "Why is that there?" Alex Haley answered, "Every time I write something significant - every time I read my words and think they are wonderful, and begin to feel proud of myself, I look at the turtle on top of the fence post and remember he didn't get there on his own. He had help!” Brothers and Sisters - that is the basis of thanksgiving. To remember that we got here with the help of God and that He is the provider of every blessing we have. So, let’s “Give HIM thanks and bless HIS name!” Amen!

I pray that the Lord will continue to bless the churches of the BCM/D as we go forward in the name of Jesus and as we proclaim the greatest message of all time. The message of salvation through Christ – and Christ alone. With Jesus at the center, we are indeed better together.

Rev. Glenn Swanson serves as the Senior Pastor of Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland and is also currently serving as the President of the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached via email at: glenn.swanson@baysidebaptist.com. All scripture quoted is English Standard Version (ESV).

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In 1969 singer-songwriter Carole King wrote and recorded the hit song, “You’ve Got a Friend.” This song has been recorded by numerous artists throughout the years including James Taylor, Anne Murray, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and many more. In 1972, King included “You’ve Got A Friend” on her album “Tapestry” which went on to win a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

That same year, in the mountains of Middletown, Maryland, the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware (BCM/D) opened a new retreat center and camp by the name of Skycroft Conference Center. When I think of Skycroft, I am reminded of the chorus to this song which says, (sing it with me) “Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, You’ve got a friend.”

From its inception, our friends at Skycroft have welcomed Maryland and Delaware Baptists with open arms. For the past 50 years Skycroft has been a place where hundreds, if not thousands of people have come to know our ultimate friend, Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior. Whenever I have had the opportunity to visit this beautiful campus, the presence of the Lord has always been felt. Isaiah 52:7 says:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Throughout my years of ministry, I have had the privilege of taking several groups to Skycroft, including Middle, High School and College age students. We always go with the expectation that God will meet us on the mountaintop, and we have never came home disappointed. From sunrise to sunset, you can look around and marvel at the beautiful creation that God has given to us. At Skycroft, you can look up in the skies and realize the truth of Psalm 19:1 which says:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

Whether you are on a retreat, conference, seminar or just a weekend getaway, Skycroft allows you the opportunity to step away from your normal daily routine and distractions, to unplug and to spend quality - and quantity time - with the Lord. Some of my fondest memories of Skycroft are the sweet times of prayer. bible studies and fellowship. I have also seen many students and adults make decisions for Jesus Christ and grow in the spiritual disciplines of the faith and their walk with the Lord.

Whether you are an adult, youth or child, there is something for everyone at Skycroft. As the song says, “Winter, spring, summer of fall,” the facilities are open year round and the staff is ready and willing to serve the churches of the BCM/D. When you visit Skycroft, you will always be greeted by friendly, knowledgeable staff members and volunteers. Led by our Sister in Christ, Emily Reedy, they love serving the Lord and the churches of our convention.

Recently, the students and leaders from our church at Bayside expressed how impressed they were with the “Reboot” retreat this past January. In addition to the excellent worship, bible study and program, they thought the variety and quality of the cafeteria food was worthy of a 5 star excellent rating. That is a wonderful testimony coming from students! Of course they also enjoyed the extra amenities at Skycroft, especially the “HeBrews” Coffee and Ice Cream shop.

On a personal note, I appreciate the commitment of the BCM/D and Skycroft to develop a weekend retreat for families of children and adults with special needs. This has been a void in the special needs community for some time, and I am thankful that Skycroft is now stepping up to give these families such a blessing. My daughter Anna had a wonderful time at the focused Abilities Retreat last summer, and is anxiously awaiting this year’s retreat which will take place in July.

So on this, your fiftieth anniversary, we say thank you to all those who have faithfully served at Skycroft throughout the years. We rejoice in the wonderful things that the Lord has done and will continue to do on the mountaintop in Middletown, Maryland. We especially thank God for the lives that have been changed and transformed because the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been faithfully preached and taught at Skycroft. If your church or ministry team is looking for a retreat center, please contact our friends at Skycroft. Whether you attend “Student Reboot” in the Winter, Pastor and staff retreats in the Spring, “Crossings” or “CentriKid” in the Summer, and/or Discipleship training events in the Fall, there is something for everyone at Skycroft. Remember, “all you have to do is call,” and our friends at Skycroft will be there for you. I know you won’t be disappointed!

• For Skycroft bookings: Phone: 800-536-6759; Email: skycroft@skycroft.org. For more information, please also check out their website at: www.skycroft.org.

Rev. Glenn Swanson serves as the Senior Pastor of Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland and is also currently serving as the President of the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached via email at: glenn.swanson@baysidebaptist.com. All scripture quoted is English Standard Version (ESV).

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