NW Baptists debate CP, increase local ministry funds
GRAND MOUND, Wash. (BP) -- Messengers to the Northwest Baptist Convention annual meeting Nov. 13-14 reelected three officers, passed a nearly $5.2 million budget for 2019 ministries, welcomed 13 congregations into affiliation and marked a new mission partnership with Texas Baptists.
"Our day is a small speck of time in the large swath of human history, but we can make this day count for all of eternity," NWBC executive director Randy Adams said, reflecting on the meeting's theme. "That makes the day in which we live, and the opportunity it affords, stupendous beyond the imagination of our feeble minds. When the opportunity of a lifetime comes, you have to seize it during the lifetime of the opportunity."
Citing the stories of ancient believers in Hebrews 11, Adams recounted the stories "in our day" of Northwest Baptist churches making a difference in people's lives. He highlighted what is accomplished when Northwest Baptists work cooperatively.
"What we do together, cooperatively, matters," Adams said. "This convention of churches started 70 years ago with 15 churches. Today, we're pushing 500.... There's no way we could have become the largest, most ethnically diverse network of churches in the Northwest had we not done it cooperatively. Together is the only way to do big things."
The 2019 officers elected were: president, Dustin Hall, pastor of Kennewick (Wash.) Baptist Church; first vice president, Michael Block, pastor of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Goldendale, Wash.; and second vice president, Michael Ruptak, pastor of Hall Boulevard Baptist Church in Tigard, Ore. Messengers elected them as a single slate with no opposing candidates.
Next year's $5,185,000 budget approved by messengers is down from 5,462,000 in 2018. The 2019 budget increases the percentage of Cooperative Program receipts for the mission field of the Northwest.
For 2019, 20 percent of CP receipts from Northwest Baptist churches will be forwarded to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries rather than the 27.25 percent that's been forwarded in recent years. The remaining 80 percent of CP gifts will support evangelism, church planting, leadership development and church growth among Northwest Baptist churches spread across Oregon, Washington and north Idaho.
The budget anticipates $2,880,000 in Cooperative Program gifts from churches. Thus, $2,304,000 will fund mission needs in the Northwest and $576,000 will be forwarded to SBC missions and ministries.
The NWBC executive board recommended the CP reallocation to help maintain NWBC staffing and ministries in light of reductions in missionary personnel funding from the North American Mission Board, the NWBC's largest financial partner. The reallocation also sought to make up for NAMB's decreased financial support of NWBC ministries not tied closely to evangelistic church planting.
Still, NAMB remains an important source of financial support through the NWBC for church planting and evangelism. Through the NWBC, NAMB will provide more than $1,742,000 for jointly-funded personnel and church planting efforts in 2019, down from $1,824,280 in the 2018 budget. In the NWBC's 2010 budget, NAMB's contribution approached $2 million.
During the board's presentation of the 2019 budget, an Oregon pastor proposed amending it to keep the level of Cooperative Program funds forwarded to the SBC at 27.25 percent.
"The Cooperative Program is probably the best thing Southern Baptists have ever done, and it hinges on cooperation," said Don Reeves, pastor of Grant Avenue Baptist Church in Corvallis, Ore. Expressing concern the reallocation wouldn't send "the right message," Reeves suggested NWBC churches work toward stronger funding of Northwest Baptist ministries by increasing Cooperative Program giving overall.
"It's not the North American Mission Board that's causing us to have financial issues," Reeves said. "It's us. We're shorting our convention. I propose the amendment understanding it's going to cost us, but the answer to it costing us is for us to pay for it."
A handful of messengers debated Reeves' amendment.
J.R. Cano, worship pastor at Eastmont Baptist Church in East Wenatchee, Wash., and a member of the executive board, urged messengers to pass the budget -- recommended unanimously by the board -- as presented. "In order to keep our organization healthy, I believe it is the right move to make," he said.
Ultimately, on a show of ballots vote, messengers turned down Reeves' amendment and opted for the presented budget.
Adams did not speak to the budget or the amendment during the discussions. After the business session, however, he said, "I so appreciated the way we conducted our business. We spoke respectfully to one another, we voted and then we go down the road together."
In another financial matter, messengers approved a $120,000 goal for the convention's mission offering, with allocations for church planting, collegiate ministry, leadership development, ethnic/language church development, Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief and evangelism through Vacation Bible School.
A three-year, renewable partnership between the NWBC and the Baptist General Convention of Texas emphasizes church planting, collegiate ministry, leadership development experiences in the Northwest and involving Northwest Baptists in mission opportunities along Texas' southern border.
Adams and BGCT executive director David Hardage signed the partnership agreement during the convention's evening session. "We look forward to the blessing of our relationship between Texas Baptists and Northwest Baptists," Hardage said. "We are honored to walk alongside you through the doors God opens."
In addition to Adams and Hall, featured speakers for the annual meeting included Dallas Stringer, pastor of Eastmont Baptist Church in East Wenatchee, Wash., and Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.
In other business, messengers adopted resolutions affirming the Bible, ministry to those affected by disasters and the importance of evangelism and discipleship. They also approved restated articles of incorporation for the Northwest Baptist Foundation and elected members of various convention committees and boards.
Next year's meeting is Nov. 12-13 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Wash.