Minn.-Wisc. Baptists focus on revival
CAMBRIDGE, Minn. (BP) -- At their annual meeting Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists gave nearly $4,000 for Ebola relief in Liberia and increased the amount of Cooperative Program funding they forward to Southern Baptist Convention causes by 2 percent.
With a theme of "O Lord, Revive Your Work," 78 messengers and 43 guests gathered at Cross Pointe Church in Cambridge, Minn., Oct. 31-Nov. 1 for the 31st annual meeting of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention.
Drawing from Habakkuk 3:2, three MWBC pastors interpreting the meeting's theme urged Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists to review, renew and rejoice: review the works of the Lord, call out to Him for renewal and -- regardless of the circumstances -- have faith and rejoice in the Lord.
"God came and communicated with Habakkuk that the future was going to be even worse than the past, but that life is not about circumstances. What matters is faith in the Living God," Chris Reinertson, pastor of Southtown Baptist Church in Bloomington, Minn., said, focusing on the "review" facet of the theme. "Rewind, replay, remember the fame of God regardless of the circumstances."
Speaking on the "renew" part of the theme, Larry Creamer, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Appleton, Wis., said "the prayer for renewal has always been the heart of every movement of God" and that revival starts in the hearts of believers. "Revival starts here," he said. "Are we ready to pray for revival in us? Can we move to where we are not angry over the sin in others, but instead broken over it?"
Jackie Hill, pastor of Roseville (Minn.) Baptist Church, addressed the "rejoice" focus of the theme. "Rejoicing isn't about the circumstance we find ourselves in," he said. "It's not about what but about who. We rejoice in the Lord." He called on Christians to rejoice even though the culture is changing and even though terrorists like ISIS and diseases like Ebola threaten them. "Rejoice in the Lord! They'll say you're crazy, and you will say, 'Yes, I'm crazy about Jesus!'"
Delivering the convention message, Fue Chee Her, pastor of Gospel Hmong Baptist Church in Roseville, Minn., challenged Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists to "embrace the tough times." He urged believers to be as committed to Christ as a soldier is to his commander.
In his executive director's report, Leo Endel presented a two-prong strategy of "prayer and people." Endel's commitment to prayer was demonstrated in a pre-convention prayer meeting he led before the first session. Acknowledging that some leaders are "task oriented" while others are "people oriented," Endel said Jesus removed the dilemma by making people the task of Christians.
Endel showed "five smooth stones" he had picked up from the Elah Valley in Israel where David killed Goliath.
"We remember David for the courage and faith he exercised when he engaged the giant," Endel said. "But all too often I feel more like Israel's soldiers, standing on the sidelines overwhelmed by fear and the obstacles we face. How can a small family of churches in Minnesota and Wisconsin really make a difference?"
Then, holding up one of the stones, Endel said, "We can pick up our stone and engage the battle. God will accomplish His purposes, even with the weak -- especially with the weak."
During his report, Endel introduced Daniel Goba, pastor of Hope of Christ Assembly in Madison, Wis., and a Liberia native, and invited Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists to participate in the Love Liberia offering that the MWBC is gathering "to help our Liberian brothers and sisters fight the suffering Ebola has brought to Liberia."
Goba told about the death and destruction that Ebola has caused in Liberia, including in his own family when his youngest brother died of the disease. The Love Liberia offering generated $1,323 and messengers voted to add $2,500 from MWBC reserve funds. They also voted to ask MWBC churches to receive their own Love Liberia offerings.
Endel ended his report by introducing Tom Hellams, vice president of denominational relations for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Daniel Patz, president of Northland International University. Northland has recently gifted Southern Seminary with its campus in Dunbar, Wis., to be used as an extension of the seminary and its undergraduate school, Boyce College. Endel presented a check for $5,000 from MWBC to Patz as a partnership gift to Northland.
All 2014 officers were re-elected to serve in 2015: president, Rick Schulze, pastor of Graceway Fellowship in Green Bay, Wis.; vice president, Martin Knox, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Rochester, Minn.; second vice president, Paul Fries, pastor of Blue River Valley Church in Muscoda, Wis., and Muscoda Church in Richland Center, Wis.; recording secretary, Wes Shemwell, a member of Midvale Baptist Church in Madison, Wis.; assistant recording secretary, Jim Gress, a member of Southtown Baptist Church in Bloomington, Minn.
Messengers approved a $1,970,008 budget for 2015, one percent higher than the 2014 budget. The MWBC anticipates receiving $440,000 from the churches through the Cooperative Program. Other sources of income include the North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, special missions offerings and interest.
The MWBC will forward 17 percent of CP funds received to the SBC for national and international missions and ministries, up from 15 percent in 2014. Eighty-three percent will be designated for MWBC missions and ministries. The MWBC does not designate any CP funds as shared expenses with the SBC.
Messengers also approved a single comprehensive resolution presented by the resolutions committee composed of chairman Glen Slaats, Julie Schulze and Vicki Slaats. The resolution:
-- expressed gratitude to Cross Pointe Church for hosting the meeting;
-- celebrated the association of Northland International University with Southern Seminary;
-- rejoiced in the fact that God is asking Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists to join Him, to deepen their relationship with Him and to have joy in Him regardless of circumstances;
-- pledged encouragement, support and prayer to MWBC leaders and staff, convention officers and board members, pastors, churches and servants of God "across our country and throughout the world";
-- expressed a prayer that "before we meet again ... we will witness a great revival and renewal throughout our two-state convention."
The 2015 annual meeting will be Oct. 23-24, 2015, at Midvale Baptist Church in Madison, Wis. The 2016 annual meeting will be Oct. 28-29, 2016, at North Center Baptist Church, Brooklyn Park, Minn.
The MWBC includes 175 churches with 9,892 members.