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: email@example.com. All scripture quoted is English Standard Version (ESV).