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Alaska convention marks 60 years of ministry in frontier state


JUNEAU, Alaska (BP)–Alaska Baptists celebrated their 60th annual meeting by emphasizing the need to reach more of their friends and neighbors with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The meeting’s theme was “Light Up Alaska,” which during the past two years has emphasized missions and prayer and church development and this year emphasizes evangelism.

The Alaska Baptist Convention has four associations encompassing 74 churches and 28 missions, according to David Baldwin, the state convention’s executive director.

Messengers approved a 2006 budget of $1.88 million, down from $1.96 in 2005. The budget includes anticipated giving of $693,857 from affiliated churches plus additional funds from the North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources. The convention will continue to allocate 33 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to national and international missions and ministries.

Alaska Baptists reported 513 baptisms for the year, down from 649 in 2004 and 643 in 2003. Total membership in Alaska churches is more than 16,000.

Bruce Rowell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Palmer, was re-elected president for 2006. Gary Cox, pastor of University Baptist Church in Fairbanks, was elected first vice president; Herb Johnston, pastor of Sunset Hills Baptist Church in Anchorage, elected second vice president; and Colleen Cannon, a member of First Baptist Church in Anchorage, recording secretary.


Because nearly 4,000 military personnel left Alaska the week of the convention to join the American forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, messengers passed a resolution vowing to covenant together to support their troops through prayer and encouragement, both for the military personnel and their families who have stayed behind.

Attendance for the Aug. 16-17 sessions at Glacier Valley Baptist Church in Juneau included 76 messengers and 35 guests.

The convention’s 2006 annual meeting will be Aug. 15-16 at First Baptist Church in Fairbanks.