Northwest Baptists hear about God's heartbeat for the nations

TACOMA, Wash. (BP)--Northwest Baptist Convention messengers adopted a $5.4 million budget to fund the regional network's ministries in 2005, retained top officers and affirmed Southern Baptist Convention efforts to baptize 1 million people next year.

Addressing controversial social concerns, messengers to the NWBC's 57th annual meeting unanimously adopted resolutions supporting military personnel fighting global terror, the advancement of pro-life issues and a federal marriage amendment.

Convention officials reported 433 messengers and 78 guests registered for the annual gathering at First Baptist Church in Tacoma, Wash. Messengers also welcomed nine new Washington congregations into the convention's fellowship.

Stanley Hughes, pastor of Richland Baptist Church in Richland, Wash., was re-elected president, and Tim Foster, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in The Dalles, Ore., was re-elected first vice president. Dan Reid, pastor of Quinalt Baptist Church in Kennewick, Wash., was elected second vice president.

Like the convention's current budget, the 2005 spending plan anticipates $3 million in Cooperative Program gifts from the NWBC's 400-plus churches. The Cooperative Program supports the shared ministry of Southern Baptist congregations in the Northwest, across the United States and around the world.

The convention's 2005 budget also includes a contribution of nearly $1.8 million from the North American Mission Board and $66,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources. Another $551,000 comes from the convention's Sylvia Wilson Mission Offering and other restricted sources.

As usual, 32 percent of the Cooperative Program portion of the budget goes toward national and international missions and ministries ($738,000) and the Pacific Northwest Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary ($222,000). The remaining portion of CP receipts supports NWBC ministries.

Northwest Baptists adopted a $150,000 goal for next year's Sylvia Wilson Mission Offering, with $100,000 allocated for associational evangelism projects and $50,000 to Baptist collegiate ministries.

During his message, Hughes challenged meeting participants with familiar themes of evangelism.

"My prayer is that at the forefront of this convention is the Great Commission," he said. "Let's do all that we can to reach the Northwest for Jesus Christ."

Following Jesus, Hughes said, includes concern for the salvation of all people.

"If we are going to follow Jesus, He is going to teach us to be concerned for lost people," Hughes noted. "As Christians today, when we fail to share Jesus with others, it is a sign that we have forgotten the fear of the Lord."

In addition to conducting business, participants focused on "God's Kingdom at Work" as they listened to presentations and testimonies celebrating God's work among churches and ministries in the Northwest.

Ken Hemphill, national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth, urged Northwest Baptists to embody God's name, embrace God's mission and obey God's Word everywhere they go.

"If we're going to make a difference here in the Northwest, then we're going to have to see His Kingdom work as 24/7," Hemphill said, implying it's a constant duty.

He urged Northwest Baptists to share God's concern for the lost across the globe.

"God has 1.5 billion people on His heart who've never heard of His son Jesus and He's got a group of people He wants to use to make Him known," Hemphill said. "If you want to reinvigorate a church, give it a passion for the world."

The former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary said "spiritual my-opia" is one of the greatest dangers facing the church in America.

"Somehow, we've come to the place where we think the church is about us," he said.

Noting England was once a "missions hothouse," Hemphill said many of that country's great cathedrals and mega churches now stand as tourist attractions. America, he said, faces the same possibility.

"If we do not restore our passion and our purpose, we will be irrelevant in a generation," he warned. "God gave this nation some of the richest blessings in order to bless the world."

During the convention sermon, Mark Bradley, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Pullman, Wash., highlighted the importance of focusing on God's Kingdom by telling of the diverse ministries in which Emmanuel members are involved.

"May our King find us to be faithful servants," Bradley said.

Ron Shepard, the new executive director for the Puget Sound Baptist Association, voiced the need for cooperative work among churches.

"One church can make a world of difference, but many churches can make the world different," he said.

Two of the convention's nine resolutions affirmed regional and national ministry efforts. One affirmed the Columbia Basin Baptist Association in their endeavors to share the Gospel during Jericho Project 2005 and encouraged all churches to pray and become involved with the outreach and ministry.

The other was a resolution to pray for Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch and to join him in praying and actively participating in the "Everyone Can ... Witness, Win and Baptize" campaign seeking to baptize one million people in 2005.

Several people spoke about the importance of prayer in all ministry efforts.

"For the Kingdom to work, there must be prayer," said Lee Brock, a retired Northwest pastor.

Johnny You, pastor of Seattle Korean Baptist Church in Lynwood, Wash., and Queensgate Baptist Church in Bothell, Wash., challenged messengers, and especially pastors, to pray at least one hour each day.

Chang Moon, pastor of the Tacoma First church, credited his congregation's success to the constant prayers of the people.

The convention's final session highlighted Northwest Baptists' call to revival in America.

About 100 participants from several NWBC churches sang "America, We Must Not Forget," a patriotic tribute to the country's spiritual moorings and the need for spiritual awakening.


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