Nev. Baptists elect first black president

RENO, Nev. (BP) -- The Nevada Baptist Convention at its 2014 annual meeting elected its first African American president, Nellis Baptist Church pastor Greg Fields of Las Vegas.

"I highly anticipate serving the Nevada Baptist Convention in this capacity as it will be a wonderful experience for me, my family and our congregation," Fields told Baptist Press after his election at the annual meeting, held Oct. 21-22 at South Reno Baptist Church in Reno.

In another historic move, the 116 messengers unanimously voted to increase Nevada's Cooperative Program giving to 50 percent of monies received from churches in the state, raising the allotment from the current 35 percent, according to a report submitted by the Nevada Baptist Convention.

Fields said he is excited to work with the strong leadership among Nevada Baptists. Nevada joins at least 23 other state conventions that have elected African American or other non-Anglos to their presidencies. The Tennessee Baptist Convention also elected its first black president this year. See related story.

"Nevada Baptists have great leadership throughout the state to glean from, and I will happily call upon many of them for counsel and assistance during my tenure," Fields told BP. "I extend a special thanks to Nevada's Executive Director Kevin White for his confidence and support of me as I embark on this exciting journey."

Fields served as Nevada Baptists vice president in 2013 and has led his multicultural congregation since 2007, when he retired from the U.S. Air Force after serving nearly 21 years. He has lived in Nevada since 1997 and was ordained at Frontier Southern Baptist Church in North Las Vegas.

"I am humbled and thankful for this opportunity," he said of his presidency. "This task isn't something I've prepared for, but I take comfort in the saying, 'God doesn't call the equipped; rather, He equips the called.'"

Mark Morton, pastor of Granite Hills Baptist Church in Reno, was elected vice president.

Regarding the budget, Nevada Baptists anticipate receiving $870,420 in Cooperative Program contributions from its affiliated churches, an increase of $40,420 over the $830,000 received this year, Nevada Baptist executive director Kevin White reported. Messengers adopted a 2015 budget of $2,217,976, White reported, compared to the current budget of $2,132,534.

Frank Page, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee president, delivered the keynote address and hosted a listening session and breakfast meeting with the 75 pastors and leaders in attendance.

"One" was this year's annual meeting theme, based on Phil. 2:2. David Pretlove, pastor of Life Church in Reno Nevada, spoke on "Unity" in his convention message.

Messengers adopted a resolution encouraging Nevada Baptist pastors to openly encourage their congregations "to be engaged in the political processes and to vote for candidates whose positions on moral and ethical issues reflect Godly values."

The 2015 Nevada Baptist annual meeting is scheduled Oct. 20-21 at Hope Church in Las Vegas.

Based on a report from the Nevada Baptist Convention.
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