By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
NEW ORLEANS (LBM) – Louisiana Baptist Executive Director Steve Horn, during the 2023 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, Nov. 14, hosted by Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, urged messengers not to give up on their mission.
“Louisiana Baptists, some are fearful that this anniversary of the Cooperative Program comes at a time when we ought to be deciding upon a new giving strategy other than the Cooperative Program,” he said. “I say, I’m not ready to give up.
“I’m not ready to give up because of the 93 Louisianans dying every day in our state with no relationship to Christ,” he continued. “I’m not ready to give up because of our International Missions force scattered across the globe.
“So, I say, ‘Let’s not give up on what God has used to raise up and send out the greatest missionary force known to modern Christianity.”
Citing Hebrews 12:25-29, Horn reminded messengers of several ways to respond as recipients of a Kingdom that never can be shaken: let their worship go up by praising God, in public actions and in personal actions; let the Word of God come into their lives by paying attention to their spiritual leaders, Jesus and teachings of others; and let their witness go out into the world.
Horn referenced obstacles that were surmounted in 1848 when the state convention was formed, to make a point about Louisiana Baptists continuing to overcome challenges today.
He noted that Louisiana Baptist leaders are working to respond to the church insurance crisis that is pressing on congregations across the state.
Louisiana lawmakers passed legislation in June, now signed into law by the governor, that established However, a separate funding line item for the trust was deleted during negotiations between the Senate and House. Consequently, multiple approaches are underway to secure one-time funding from the state and federal governments and possibly other sources to assist with setup costs.
In the meantime, efforts are beginning to complete “no cost” steps while the funding appeals proceed.
The push to help churches began in March when Horn reached out to the Louisiana Baptist Office of Public Policy to share that churches were contacting his office about insurance nonrenewal notices and soaring premiums due to the four hurricanes of 2021-22:
— State Sen. Katrina Jackson responded to contact from the Louisiana Baptist Office of Public Policy by arranging a Zoom townhall meeting between pastors and the state insurance commissioner.
— Likewise, state Sen. Robert Mills, a member of First Baptist Church, Bossier City, with Jackson as cosponsor, pushed through S.B. 147, which established the church self-insurance program.
— LBC Executive Board members approved, during their Sept. 26 meeting, an advisory committee to help identify strategies and resources to secure onetime funding to launch the state legislature approved self-insurance program.
Horn asked messengers to submit basic information they received in their annual meeting packet about their church insurance history and needs that will be helpful in ascertaining the viability of the self-insurance program.
“I dream of one day standing before you to tell you that there is a self-insurance program as an alternative for our churches to consider instead of traditional insurance which only promises escalating premiums, higher than affordable deductibles, the very real possibility of churches not securing insurance, which will ultimately lead to the inability to build back after the next hurricane,” Horn said. “We are at work, and we will not quit until there is a viable alternative.”