Volume 50, Number 50, December, 2004
Issue of the Baptist Testimony
From Where I Stand
Maynard H. Belt
MARBC State Representative
62nd Annual MARBC State Meeting
“The Hand of God and the Arm of Flesh!”
First Baptist Church, Rochester, Pastor Tom Townsend, staff and people were our hosts for the 62nd Annual State Conference October 25-26, and what gracious hosts they were. They greeted us with open arms and more than put out the red carpet. It takes a host church weeks of diligent preparation while carrying on their daily ministries to make such a conference a blessing and they did it in high fashion. Thank you, Pastors and people, for being such faithful, loving and giving servants of the Lord. It was so greatly appreciated.
Following an opening message by State Representative Maynard Belt entitled, “God’s Providence – Traveling An Appointed Way,” from the book of Philemon, Dr. Colin Smith, professor and conference speaker from Baptist Bible College and Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA, brought four stirring messages from the book of Judges on the theme, “The Hand of God and the Arm of Flesh!”In addressing the life of Othniel, he challenged us to take initiative in our ministries and walk with God; from Ehud, we learned that those who succeed do so by doing whatever it takes to get the job done, even if it might involve some dirty work; Gideon taught us that God uses fearful people but only when by faith, they trust in God; and finally Samson reminded us that we need to know who we are and where we are going, so that our people will know who they are and where they are going. Samson lived by his eyes (sight) and didn’t comprehend that he was to live by faith. Dr. Smith also brought to our attention how many times “hands” are mentioned in the book of Judges, both the hand of God and our hands and that we are to use them for God’s glory and not ours.
Of good interest this year were three super seminars dealing with important issues of the day. Dr. Smith taught a very informative session on “Baptist Polity,” and Dr. James Grier, noted conference speaker and former Vice President/Dean of Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, instructed us on “The Redemptive Movement” a theology that is affecting many churches in our circles today. Both Dr. Grier and Dr. Smith participated in a panel discussion, along with Pastor Doug Blackwell, First Baptist in Clare, presenting the different views on marriage/divorce/remarriage. The session was very informative and well received and ably moderated by Pastor Robb Ryerse of Ithaca Baptist Church. The ladies enjoyed two very special sessions entitled, “Transforming Houses Into Homes,” led by two ladies from West Cannon Baptist Church in Belmont, Mrs. Colleen McMaster and Mrs. Priscilla Wynalda. Our ladies always have a fun time and come away with treats and prizes that make their day.
Our conference singing and special music is always uplifting and we want to thank Pastor Mark Cizauskas, West Cannon Baptist in Belmont, for leading our singing, and Mrs. Kathy Brittain and Pastor Greg Carlson for being at the piano and organ. We also want to thank Mrs. Anne Harduk, First Baptist, Alto, for conducting special meetings for our children. They really had a great time. Matters of business this year included the approval of our annual MARBC budget totaling $120,024.90, an increase by faith over last year’s budget. We do encourage our churches to consider increasing/taking on the MARBC in order to keep up with increased expenses as we minister to the some 200+ churches in our State Fellowship. A hearty thanks to those churches who brought along special gifts to help in meeting our budget.The State Rep’s annual report included fruit-bearing testimonies of many of our churches, the good interest in our new website (www.MARBC.net) and the Council of Fifteen’s strategic planning efforts. Lord willing, some things will be in print by next annual conference regarding our mission, values and goals for the future of our State Fellowship.
Council of Fifteen members for the coming year are George Coon, Kalamazoo (Chairman); Mike Eleveld, Portage (Vice-Chairman); Tom Townsend, Rochester (Secretary); Mark Cizauskas, Belmont (Treasurer); Bruce Stewart, Middleville; Lee Taylor, Lowell; Doug Compton, Comstock Park; Bill Blount, E. China; Scott Bixby, Grand Rapids; Fred Jensen, North Adams (SMARBC); Jerry Diserens, Taylor (EMARBC); Larry Schwarck, Brimley (NARBC); Robb Ryerse, Ithaca (CMARBC); Mike Banks, Montague (WMARBC); and Jeff Burr, Grand Rapids (GRARBC). Please remember these men in prayer as they work with the state representative in planning state conferences and activities. Thank you.
Thanks to our pastors and churches for being a vital part of this statewide ministry. By God’s grace, and through His strength let’s continue reaching out to our communities, participating in our many state activities and praying for our church planting efforts here in Michigan. Next year’s conference will be October 24-25, 2005, at the Berean Baptist Church in Portage, Pastor Mike Eleveld. Our speakers will be Dr. Douglas McLachlan, pastor of Fourth Baptist Church, Plymouth, MN, who will be speaking in our general sessions, and Dr. Gary Anderson, president of Baptist Mid-Missions, who will be conducting our super seminars. Be sure to put these dates on your calendar now!
Merry Christmas to all of our very special friends in our MARBC Family. Thank you for your constant encouragement and prayer support during the past year. Together may we rejoice in the privilege that is ours to not only enjoy, but also tell others of the Indescribable Gift.
Maynard & Ann