NW Baptists' 70th meeting renews 'blessing' theme

EUGENE, Ore. (BP) -- When Northwest Baptists from 15 churches organized formally as a convention in 1948, they embraced as part of their mission "blessing of the world." As messengers to the Northwest Baptist Convention's 70th annual meeting convened Nov. 7-8 in Eugene, Ore., the theme of "blessing" once again was prominent.

Members of New Hope Christian Fellowship's worship team from Honolulu, Hawaii, lead Northwest Baptist Convention messengers in an evening of inspiration and encouragement during the Nov. 7-8 annual meeting in Eugene, Ore.
Photo by Cameron Crabtree/Northwest Baptist Witness
"Northwest Baptists were placed by God in our communities as a blessing to the peoples where we live," said Randy Adams, NWBC executive director. "As we live the Gospel in righteousness and truth, as we walk in the way of the Lord, the Gospel message that we speak becomes clear and powerful to the watching world."

The gathering -- drawing 291 messengers and 71 registered guests from 133 churches -- began by welcoming 25 churches into the NWBC network, bringing the total number of churches taking part in the NWBC ministries to more than 500.

During a brief business session, messengers elected a slate of new officers and approved a 2018 ministry budget and a regional offering goal of $120,000 for next year.

Dustin Hall, pastor of Kennewick (Wash.) Baptist Church, was elected president without opposition. Michael Block, pastor of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Goldendale, Wash., was elected first vice president over Michael Ruptak, pastor of Hall Boulevard Baptist Church in Tigard, Ore. Ruptak, not present at the business session, was then elected second vice president.

Messengers approved a $5,462,000 spending plan for 2018 ministry efforts, up nearly $400,000 over the current year's budget. It represents the first significant budget increase in several years, NWBC officials noted. Adams deemed it a "stretch budget" but expressed optimism about reaching it.

Northwest Baptist Convention messengers elected Dustin Hall (right), pastor of Kennewick (Wash.) Baptist Church, as president, and Michael Block, pastor of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Goldendale, Wash., as first vice president during their Nov. 7-8 meeting in Eugene, Ore. Michael Ruptak (not pictured), pastor of Hall Boulevard Baptist Church in Tigard, Ore., was elected second vice president.
Photo by Sheila Allen/Northwest Baptist Witness
"This budget represents a lot of collaborative ministry," he said. "We've been able to set this with some confidence because of the level of generous Cooperative Program giving from Northwest Baptist churches the last couple of years."

The 2018 budget anticipates $2,920,000 in Cooperative Program giving from NWBC congregations, compared to $2,800,000 anticipated in the 2017 budget. From those CP gifts, 27.25 percent will continue to be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention to support missions and ministry across North American and around the world.

A related item in the budget is $100,000 to support the Pacific Northwest Campus of Gateway Seminary, which has provided ministerial education for church leaders in the Northwest since 1980.

Remaining Cooperative Program funds support church planting, evangelism, community ministry, leadership development and administrative support to help "equip and extend" the ministries of local churches in the Northwest, Adams said.

The North American Mission Board is slated to provide more than $1,824,000 in the 2018 budget. Other funding sources in the 2018 budget include Lifeway Christian Resources ($64,000), the NWBC's regional mission offering ($120,000), restricted funds (nearly $104,000) and other monies (nearly $430,000) from investments, fees for services, event registrations and partnership funds.

In approving a $120,000 goal for "Northwest Impact," the convention's regional mission offering, NWBC churches will bolster support for church planting, $60,000; collegiate ministries, $16,000; Oasis Retreat for ministry leaders, $16,000; evangelism, $8,000; disaster relief, $5,000; Vacation Bible School, $5,000. Another $10,000 is slated for promotional expenses.

Featured speakers

In addition to Adams, featured speakers for the gathering -- held at the Hilton Eugene --included David Choi, pastor of Tacoma (Wash.) First Baptist Church; Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina; Wayne Cordeiro, founding pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii; and Steve Bryant, outgoing NWBC president and member of Highland Baptist Church in Redmond, Ore.

Preaching the convention's annual sermon, Choi emphasized the importance of prayer for local and global ministry. "If we are called to [God's] work, it must begin with prayer," he said.

Citing a pattern of prayer in Nehemiah 1, he urged Northwest Baptists to pray with a spirit of love, gratitude, repentance and discernment.

About 500 members of the Tacoma church gather early each morning to pray, Choi said, noting, "We have to pray to be connected, united."

Alvin Reid, though spending most of his time sharing about evangelism, emphasized the importance of prayer in ministry.

"It always starts with prayer," Reid said. "You'll never be skilled enough to fulfill your ministry calling apart from much time spent on your face in prayer."

The convention's Tuesday evening session featured a message of encouragement from Cordeiro and worship led by the music team from New Hope Christian Fellowship based in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Cordeiro urged the audience to embrace the "precious Gospel" so that unbelievers see something different from what is offered to them by the larger society.

"What impresses people is a heart of unrivaled devotion for Jesus," Cordeiro said. "The world needs to see that. The truth doesn't need your defense, it needs your proclamation" so that people have a clear choice in a world of moral confusion.

Such clarity, he said, will benefit the next generation.

"The church's greatest problem tomorrow will not be a lack of leaders, but an overabundance of underdeveloped leaders," Cordeiro warned. "Proclaim truth so that people have a choice. You're going to take heat for it, but you need to stand."

It will require patience and a willingness to see the fruit of the effort later in life, he said. "This will take a while, but eventually people are going to look for something and it better be the bride of Christ," he added. "For some of you, this next season of ministry in your life will be in the next generation."

Cordeiro also noted the importance of understanding how to communicate the Gospel message so that people can understand it and respond to it. "People aren't tired of the Gospel," he said. "They're just tired of tired presentations of the Gospel. The presentation of the Gospel has to be in the language of the streets. We have to relearn the language of the streets."

Adams and Joe Flegal, NWBC director of evangelism and church health, recognized four individuals with "Faithful Sower" Awards for their consistent practice in sharing the Gospel message with those around them. This year's recipients were Danny Kuykendall, longtime NWBC staff member; Ted Cotten, retired Northwest Baptist pastor; Lucia Camacho of Lynden, Wash.; and the late Carl Lewis, who was a deacon at Eastmont Baptist Church in East Wenatchee, Wash.

The Northwest Baptist Historical Society presented its annual Heritage Awards to two couples -- Ted and Alice Cotten, members of Valley Christian Fellowship in Longview, Wash., and Bob and Colleen Harvey, members of Emanuel Baptist Church in Pullman, Wash. Bob Harvey is a retired collegiate minister who served at Washington State University.

Resolutions

Toward the end of the two-day meeting, messengers passed without any discussion from the floor, several resolutions:

-- Expressing appreciation for military personnel in "their labors that secure and maintain our freedom," committing to "pray for continuous safety" in defending the nation. Similarly, messengers agreed to "lift in prayer" law enforcement officers and first responders as they serve and protect all peoples of the United States, along with Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief teams.

-- Celebrating establishment of new churches and church plants and 25 newly affiliated churches "as we recognize our call to the Great Commission."

-- Resolving to pray for the nation's political leaders and all elected officials.

-- Committing to "pray for and support the victims of senseless violence in our country and around the world. We specifically commit to pray and support our sister church in Sutherland Springs, TX."

-- Declaring the value of all human life and repudiating "the abhorrent acts that callously end life before God's sovereign timing. We value the sanctity of life as God's Word teaches; we also resolve to be vigilant in our opposition to human trafficking in our communities and our nation."

-- Acknowledging "our responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission and support our partners in the International and North American Mission Boards, as they facilitate deployment of missionaries to make disciples, develop leaders and spread the gospel to all peoples." Messengers also stated their intent to "return to our respective places of ministry to be a blessing to our neighbors and intentionally disciple and share the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Cameron Crabtree is editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness, newsjournal of the Northwest Baptist Convention.
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