Utah-Idaho conv. prays, aims to strengthen churches
KEARNS, Utah (BP) -- Prayer permeated the Oct. 19 annual meeting of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention, as it did the two-day pastors' conference preceding it.
"The challenge is not focusing on numbers but focusing on starting healthy churches and strengthening all our existing churches," Rob Lee, UISBC executive director, said in his report to the convention. "We are working on different church revitalization projects to help churches become stronger by assisting with evangelism funds to help them with evangelistic projects and other strategies.
"It is projected at the end of 2018 we will have 35 church plants in the SEND Salt Lake region, and a total of 104 churches in Utah," Lee continued. "This year we will see the potential for 12 to 15 church plants started, and we currently have 27 plants receiving North American Mission Board support."
In the meeting's first order of business, four churches were accepted into fellowship with the UISBC: from Utah, Harvest Church in Ogden and Lifepoint Church in Farmington; from Idaho, Table Rock Church in Boise and Mountain View Baptist Church in Pierce.
The theme for the two-state convention's 54th annual meeting was "Do Not Be Silent." Each of the four men who brought messages preached from a different portion of Acts 18, which states in verse 9: "And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, 'Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent.'"
The emphasis on prayer started with the pastors' conference, led by Russ Robinson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Provo, Utah. He invited leaders from Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., the church that sent him to Utah nearly nine years ago, to speak: pastor Ryan Fullerton and Immanuel's global missions pastor (name removed for security reasons). Carlos Pacheco, church planting catalyst with Spanish-language churches in the Metro New York Baptist Association, also was featured.
"Our prayers should be fueled in God's Word," Fullerton said, noting that they should be with great intensity, great repentance and a great God-centered faith. The correct attitude for prayer, he said, is in the Bible: "I'm desperate."
Votes for next year's officers and budget, amending the constitution and two resolutions of appreciation all were unanimous at the annual meeting.
Three of the UISBC's officers were reelected: president, Matt McGukin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho; first vice president, Bryan Catherman, pastor of Redeeming Life Fellowship in Salt Lake City; and second vice president, Corey Hodges of The Point Church. Elected for his first term as recording secretary was Jared Jenkins, minister of discipleship and missions at Risen Life Church in Salt Lake City.
Messengers approved a $1,809,032 budget for 2019, up from $1,784,229 last year, an increase of $24,803. This includes a 1 percentage point increase in Cooperative Program giving to national and international SBC causes, to 29 percent, or $207,069, up from $192,984 last year, at 28 percent.
When its Vision 2020 initiative was adopted five years ago, the convention voted to increase its SBC Cooperative Program giving by 1 percent a year, to 30 percent of receipts from Utah and Idaho Southern Baptist churches. It is on target to do so, Judy Barking, budget and finance committee chairperson, told messengers.
Anticipated income includes $714,032 in Cooperative Program giving by UISBC churches; $940,000 from the North American Mission Board, with $765,000 to be used in church planting and $175,000 in evangelism; $60,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources; and $95,000 from the York-Dillman State Missions Offering.
"Giving is ahead of budget; Cooperative Program giving is ahead of budget," Barking said in response to a question on the convention's financial standing. "One concern we're monitoring is potential changes with NAMB funding and how that affects UISBC church planting and church personnel, as well as state funding."
Financing is confirmed for this year's income from NAMB, Barking added.
The change to the UISBC constitution will enable churches to join the convention whenever the Executive Board meets, typically four times a year, rather than just at the annual meeting.
The change also stipulated that churches joining the UISBC must provide financial support, complete an Annual Church Profile and be in doctrinal agreement with the current Baptist Faith and Message.
In a resolution related to church planting, messengers stated: "Because it is the five-year anniversary of Send Salt Lake, and because it is the three-year anniversary of the UISBC Church Planters Network, as a Convention of like-minded churches we want to express thankfulness to God for the following:
"1. All planters and their families who have started churches in Utah and Idaho (51 new since 2013);
"2. All plant support team families who have helped start new churches in Utah and Idaho; and
"3. All church partners in Utah and Idaho and around the United States, for their help in starting churches in Utah and Idaho."
In a resolution of appreciation, messengers voiced gratitude to "Pastor Corey Hodges, the Point Church and their staff and volunteers who have shown us such warm hospitality this week"; to Russ Robinson and First Baptist Church of Provo for leading the pastors' conference; and to Mary McFarling, the convention's women's ministry and missions network leader, for her leadership in the women's conference.
Rob Lee, in a video portion of his executive director's report, noted that 51 congregations have been started in the last five years, when Vision 2020 began, for a total of 185 churches and missions. This, however, is only 40 more than when Vision 2020 was initiated with its goal of 300 churches by 2020.
A related goal of reaching 1 percent of the population, or about 45,000 people, also remains in the distance, Lee said. If all the churches in UISBC would turn in their ACPs, the convention still would encompass only about 17,500 members.
Lee expressed his appreciation for pastors whose financial needs aren't met by the church they lead. "Covocational" pastors, a new term for men who are engaging with the lost while at other employment as well as when they are doing church work, are critical for the UISBC, SBC and around the world, Lee said.
He encouraged pastors and leaders across Utah and Idaho to do as the apostle Paul did, and "do not be silent."
Among reports from various national entities, Ashley Clayton, vice president for Cooperative Program and stewardship with the SBC Executive Committee, commended UISBC churches for their faithful support of SBC causes through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong missions offerings.
"It's amazing. It's stunning what God is doing in the West," Clayton said. "In Utah and Idaho, baptisms, number of churches and CP giving are all up. Thank you for your commitment to missions.
"By the end of this year, if the trend continues, your Cooperative Program giving will have exceeded $20 million," Clayton continued. "On behalf of all Southern Baptists, I commend you."
The Executive Committee hosted a Chick-fil-A box lunch for messengers and guests. "It's a benefit to the [two-state] convention," Clayton told Baptist Press. "It's a way for Southern Baptists to say in a tangible way, 'Thank you.'"
UISBC staff reports in the afternoon were interspersed with worship and messages reminding listeners how and why they cannot be silent about sharing God's Word and God's love with the people they encounter each day.
The 2019 meeting of the Utah-Idaho convention is scheduled for Oct. 18 at Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho.