Nevada Baptists called 'pacesetter' for CP giving
In addition to approving new churches, hearing numerous ministry reports and being called a "pacesetter" in Cooperative Program giving, Nevada Southern Baptists also heard about outreach efforts following the Las Vegas mass shooting on Oct. 1 that left 58 dead and more than 500 injured.
The meeting was held at Life Baptist Church in Las Vegas, where Paul Gotthardt is pastor of the church he started 13 years ago. A total of 140 messengers from 60 of Nevada's 218 Southern Baptist churches and 28 guests attended the meeting.
Worship sessions were led by a "Worship Collective" of a dozen worship leaders from across Nevada. The challenge involved fitting together songs featuring as many worship leaders in Nevada as possible, with the selections "focusing on the flow of both passion and music," said Jacob LeFavour, worship pastor at Shadow Hills Church in Las Vegas. He coordinated the worships sessions with Matt Phillips, worship pastor at Life Church in Las Vegas, host church for the annual gathering.
"We wanted to show our unity, lift high the name of Jesus Christ and collectively lead people to the throne of grace," LeFavour said. "It went well. We're going to do it again next year."
Las Vegas shooting
Messengers heard reports of how Southern Baptists responded to the worst mass shooting in modern history.
So much food was donated that city officials turned some of it over to the local food bank, said Ryan Jones, the state director of missions. So many people lined up to give blood that this need was covered too, he noted.
Southern Baptist pastors also served the city's crisis command center with being available to counsel those searching for loved ones, Jones reported.
"These pastors were able to minister to people in crisis, sometimes even driving them to the morgue," Jones said. "We met a need the city hadn't thought of."
Jones was one of several speakers to mention the tragedy.
Other meeting highlights
-- Eight churches were voted into affiliation with the state convention, bringing Nevada's total to 218 churches that worship in a variety of cultural settings, including Iranian, Haitian, African-American, Asian and Hispanic among the new congregations.
-- Eleven pastors and church staff also were welcomed to ministry this year in Nevada.
-- The Nevada Baptist Convention (NBC) has among the highest percentages of churches that give to missions through the Cooperative Program, and is a "pacesetter" regarding the Cooperative Program, announced Ashley Clayton, SBC Executive Committee vice president for the Cooperative Program and stewardship. NBC Executive Director Kevin White later told Baptist Press 90 percent of Nevada Southern Baptist churches give to missions through CP.
-- The NBC is 5.5 percent ahead of budget for 2017, White announced. An overall 6.2 percent increase was approved for 2018. Nevada's Cooperative Program giving to SBC entities remains unchanged -- for the third year -- at 50 percent for 2018.
-- Nevada church planters reported 570 professions of faith and 206 baptisms so far in 2017, Jones reported. The state convention's collegiate ministries reported 63 professions of faith and 193 students involved in evangelism. Hunger funds provided for 114,422 meals and 205 professions of faith through the third quarter of the year.
-- Goal for the 2017 Silver State Missions Offering was set last year at $25,000, and already this year $33,884.19 has been given. And $26,612 has been distributed. It was the most ever received for the state missions offering, and the most ever distributed, Jones reported. The 2018 goal has been set at $30,000.
The 140 messengers present from 60 of Nevada's 218 churches voted without discussion to approve a $2,205,772 budget for 2018, up $66,418 from $2017's $2,139,354. The increase is to come entirely from Nevada churches, with $1,133,572 Cooperative Program giving coming from churches, up from $1,067,154 projected for 2017. Nevada expects to send at least $566,786 to SBC national and international causes in 2018.
The budget also includes $1,006,000 from the North American Mission Board, $65,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources, and $1,200 in other income.
Both officers were re-elected to a second one-year term by acclamation: Layman Ted Angle of Fellowship Community Church in Reno to continue as president; and Damian Cirincione, executive pastor of Shadow Hills Church in Las Vegas, as vice-president.
No old, new or miscellaneous business was presented. Two resolutions were approved without discussion by votes of the messengers:
The first was a resolution of gratitude to Life Baptist Church and its pastor for "overflowing hospitality and labor of love."
The second related to evangelism: "Be it resolved that the churches of the Nevada Baptist Convention be encouraged to honor Jesus' desires, using all the various methods of evangelism known to us from friendship evangelism, Gospel preaching in our churches to proclaiming Christ in the city streets."
Pastors brought theme interpretations at each of the annual meeting's four sessions: Stand boldly. Stand and speak. Stand in Christ. Stand and resist the enemy.
The annual meeting also included two messages from former Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Road Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga. Leo Castro, pastor of Eternity Christian Center in Reno, brought the meeting's annual sermon. He preached from 1 Corinthians 15.
White -- and, through video, other Nevada Southern Baptists who visited recently with Syrian refugees -- spoke of heart-stirring conversations he had in Italy and Greece. NBC voted last year to partner with the International Mission Board as it ministers to refugees from North Africa and the Middle East.
White spoke of one refugee who endured repeated beatings by other Muslims and was among 80 people herded onto a boat meant to hold no more than 24 people.
"He's now a Christian," White said. "He told me, 'The only ones who loved us were Christians.' He's getting baptized with his wife, and they're starting a church in his modular," which is temporary housing provided by the government.
Next year is the 40th anniversary of the Nevada Baptist Convention, announced Jim Collins, pastor of Discovery Church Las Vegas and chairman of the NBC's Order of Business committee. "It's going to be a phenomenal couple of days."
Next year's meeting is set for Oct. 16-17 at South Reno Baptist Church in Reno.