News Articles

Amid Utah’s Mormonism, CP is championed

ROOSEVELT, Utah (BP)–Roosevelt Baptist Church doesn’t give to missions through the Cooperative Program because God has blessed the Utah congregation, though He has.

The church gives because it’s the right thing to do, pastor Stacy Hadlock says.

“God has called us to give toward what He is doing,” Hadlock said. “Through the Cooperative Program, He is giving us an opportunity to do more than just say we have faith. When we give through the Cooperative Program, we’re showing our faith.”

Faith was about all the church had in 1994, when Hadlock was named senior pastor of a congregation that numbered no more than 30, after serving for a year as co-pastor. The congregation struggled to pay the utility bills each month, but during his year as co-pastor, Hadlock learned about the Cooperative Program from director of missions John McClung (now retired). He discovered that CP supports the ministry of Southern Baptist missionaries around the world and across North America; it trains missionaries, pastors and other ministry leaders; it undergirds the missions and ministries of 42 state Baptist conventions and more.

“Our Cooperative Program has proven itself to be successful,” Hadlock said in a business meeting soon after he was named senior pastor. “We can feel good about giving to missions through the Cooperative Program.”

Just as church members were to tithe, to illustrate their dependency on God and obedience to Him, so should the church as a way of setting the example, Hadlock said to the congregation.

He doesn’t know if his words were persuasive, if the congregation decided to show their support for him as their new pastor, or if they trusted him since he was born in the community and they had seen him grow over the previous four years as youth Sunday School teacher, youth pastor and supply pastor.

For whatever reason, the congregation — which had not been giving anything to missions through the Cooperative Program — voted that day, despite the inability to pay that month’s electric bill, to give first 10 percent of its offerings each month to missions through CP.

“From that day to this, we have never had a problem paying the utilities,” Hadlock said. “To me, it [the church not giving a tithe] was an example of not having faith. If we believe God calls us to do something, we have to do it even when it’s not easy as an expression of our faith.”

It wasn’t easy in 1942 when Harold and Opal Dillman determined God wanted them to start a Southern Baptist church in Roosevelt, Utah, in the far northeast corner of Utah, near the Wyoming and Colorado state lines.

But in time an initial building was constructed, and the following 50 years saw an ebb and flow of pastors and members. Then came Hadlock. Under his direction over the last 17 years, the congregation has grown to more than 80 in Sunday morning worship and, at times, 120 or more for “just a regular service” and 200 or more for a special service such as Christmas.

This summer Roosevelt Baptist is in the midst of a major building initiative — a new worship center and more Sunday School space, which Hadlock expects will be completed by September with the help of several mission construction teams from North Carolina.

“We increased our Cooperative Program giving to 15 percent five years ago,” Hadlock recounted. “The church had grown and finances had stabilized. By giving more, we would be able to be more involved in what God was doing around the world.” But as soon as the decision was made to increase CP giving, the church began to realize it needed a bigger worship center. This was another example to the congregation of the need to be faithful — no matter what — to their understanding of what God wanted for them, the pastor said. After praying about it, they determined to start saving for a building without decreasing their 15 percent CP commitment. Six months later, the congregation received an unexpected $75,000 check for mineral royalties.

It was a sign of God’s blessing for the church’s faithfulness and intentionality in giving, Hadlock said.

“We leased the oil royalties to a company a couple years before we got ready to build,” the pastor said. “We forgot about it being leased because there was no guarantee that they would ever drill on such a small section. We began saving for a building and six months later received the first check, which was for six months [of royalties] — showing us God answered our prayer in the very beginning. We just didn’t find out about it for six months.

“I was told the mineral rights were given to the church many years ago in the early years of Roosevelt Baptist by a family who visited there some, and the ladies of the church would go help them,” Hadlock continued. “When they passed, they had no family, so they left what they had to the church and nobody thought mineral rights on such a small area of land out in the middle of nowhere would ever amount to much. Many years later — long enough that the paper the title is printed on is yellow — God used it to build His church.”

That money went to the building fund, as have each of the monthly checks since.

“Every dime of that money, except for the first 15 percent that goes to the Cooperative Program, goes to the building fund,” Hadlock said. Members also continue to give to the building fund, and by this fall, the church expects to have no more than a $50,000 mortgage on their new 70-by-70-foot building that will comfortably seat 300 people, valued at about $400,000, the pastor said.

Roosevelt Baptist’s local ministry includes a Christian 12-step program for adults and an emphasize on children and youth ministries. This summer, a group from Oklahoma is to return for the fourth year to do Vacation Bible School. Because of the construction at the church, VBS will move to a city park, which will help draw in youngsters who don’t attend an evangelical church.

Hadlock knows about that. He was born 44 years ago in Roosevelt, son of a long line of faithful Mormons, some of whom have had high-ranking positions. Hadlock was the first person in his family to think through serious questions about the Mormon faith in which he was reared.

The questions started with his high school wrestling team co-captain, a Catholic. “He started questioning me about the problems with Mormonism,” Hadlock said. “I didn’t know there were any problems! … Mormonism was not something you had to prove.”

Hadlock was 21 and married when the questions surfaced again, this time from a relative visiting from Texas. That started a two-year process.

“I’m a real black-and-white kind of guy,” Hadlock said. “I prayed for God to show me the truth, and I started reading the Bible. I started in Matthew, and I was reading Matthew 7:7 — the ask, seek, knock verse — when God told me He was willing to show me the truth if I was willing to learn it.

“Until then I was thinking I would ultimately find that Mormonism was the truth,” Hadlock continued. “I realized I didn’t want to know the truth as much as I thought I did. … A problem for many people coming out of Mormonism is they tend to believe if Mormonism is wrong, nothing is right. And though they leave it, they sometimes throw the baby out with the bathwater and fall into atheism or agnosticism.

“God helped me to understand there was nothing to be gained by not being saved,” Hadlock said. “I began to see if there was any chance at all for my family to be saved, I had to be the first. … After struggling and studying the Bible, one morning I got up and … decided truth was still truth, and in the end, that’s all that mattered. I made the decision then to follow Christ.”

He didn’t tell anyone, but about a month later people began asking him if he had become a Christian, and he made his decision public in the multi-generational church where he is now pastor. Several members of his family have since become Christians.

As Roosevelt Baptist’s pastor, Hadlock said he looks for opportunities to show the congregation the results of their giving to missions through the Cooperative Program by using various printed and video materials, by bringing in guest missionaries and even when “talking up” the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

“We try to have a lot of things at church” amid the challenge of being in a Mormon community, Hadlock said. But, he noted, “All the other things will happen if you’re able to keep people working on their relationship with God.

“Becoming a Christian is a freeing experience,” the pastor continued. “It causes them to serve God in a way there’s no substitute for. It’s not works-based, like in Mormonism. It’s natural fruit that comes from the nourishment of the Word of God.”

Hadlock is a bivocational pastor. He works 50 to 70 hours a week as the manager of an oilfield supply company. He and his wife Tina parent six children; the two youngest are still at home. It is only by remaining faithful — intentional — in his relationship with God that he is able to juggle his time, Hadlock said.

“You have to do things on purpose,” he noted. “I’m not able to do that enough, but I have a very spiritual wife, a very supportive wife. She believes God’s hand is on my life. … I do what I can do. I get up early and pray, and stay up late to study.

“The church in Roosevelt and I have a saying that keeps us always mindful of something I believe is imperative for us to serve God individually and corporately in Roosevelt, Utah,” Hadlock said. “Every day I remind myself of the most important thing I learned when I became a Christian, and it is just as important as I continue seeking to serve Him. It is ‘becoming a Christian and living as a Christian is about Jesus plus or minus nothing.'”
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.