VANCOUVER, British Columbia (BP) — A referendum on same-sex marriage became part of the bylaws of the newly-revised constitution passed at the 19th biennial conference of the Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the United States and Canada.
The fellowship also adopted a new ministry focus called “EPS” that highlights “Equipping” churches to become more effective, “Planting” new congregations, and “Supporting” churches that lack sufficient resources and need encouragement.
The “overwhelmingly adopted” revised constitution and bylaws were drafted “to keep the Chinese Baptist Fellowship in line with its new ministry focus,” reported outgoing President Abraham Chiu, pastor of Crosspoint Church of Silicon Valley, Calif., a multi-site church with campuses in Milpitas and Pleasanton.
“We also added our statement of faith and our biblical position to same-sex marriage into our bylaws to protect the fellowship from any related litigation,” Chiu told Baptist Press after the gathering, which took place Sept. 27-29 at Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church in British Columbia, Canada.
“Most of us on the [fellowship’s] executive committee are pastors and most of us have already gone through this with our churches,” incoming president Benny Wong said. “It’s a no-brainer in today’s society. With the fellowship this part was missing.”
During the meeting, newly-elected officers and committee members “started to work right away” on the new ministry focus and spent time praying together that Thursday afternoon (Sept. 29) before the evening banquet, Chiu said. “We could see God’s work in our midst, that He pulled everyone together, as we are committing to do greater things for God through the Chinese Baptists in North America.”
Wong, pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles, was elected president by acclamation. The rest of the fellowship’s newly-elected executive committee included vice presidents Alan Chan, ministry coordinator for Mandarin Baptist Church in Los Angeles and Peter Liu, pastor of Chinese Christian Church of Ridgeland, Miss.; secretary Andrew Tong, pastor of Hawaii Chinese Baptist Church in Honolulu; treasurer Howard Li, pastor of Trust in God Chinese Baptist Church in New York City; and financial officer Jady Lo, a deaconess of Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church in Vancouver, B.C.
Under a theme of “Thy Kingdom Come,” Ian Buntain, teaching pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Albert Ting, senior pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church of Walnut, Calif., were keynote speakers for the English and Chinese revival sessions.
The conference was conducted in Mandarin and English with joint Bible exposition sessions and separate language revival meetings in the evening, Chiu said. Thirteen leaders from the International Mission Board participated in the conference, as did 18 Chinese church planters.
“They had a session during the lunch they sponsored Wednesday that was very eye-opening for our pastors,” Wong said. “They have so much more knowledge than we do about [East Asia] and Chinese around the world and all the new opportunities for us to partner with.”
Among morning and afternoon seminars: “Baptist Faith and Polity,” “Church to Comply with Regulations,” “Effective Church Team,” “Reaching Next Generation,” “How to Prepare for Retirement,” “Legal Compliance of the Church,” and “Love One Another in the Cross-Generational Church.”
“Spiritually refreshing, genuine mutual support between delegates, I think those two encapsulate what I would like to say about this year’s fellowship meeting,” Wong said. “This year’s conference was really spiritually refreshing.
“I think it has to do with the theme and the speakers,” Wong said. “They broadened our horizons not only in missions but personally. … I was blessed spiritually.”
The 20th biennial meeting of the Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the United States and Canada is to be in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2018. It is to include celebration of the 40th anniversary of the fellowship.