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Dakota Baptists celebrate 25th year

RAPID CITY, S.D. (BP)–Dakota Baptists celebrated their 25th year as a convention during their Nov. 11-12 annual meeting at Calvary Baptist Church in Rapid City.

“We celebrate the past, but we don’t worship it,” said Garvon Golden, DBC Sharing Christ team leader and associate executive director, in one of the convention’s theme interpretations. “Baptist work in the Dakotas was born out of a passion of oil field workers to drill for oil and to share their faith. It also was born out of the passion of airmen to protect the nation and to share their faith.

“These mid-century pioneers were willing to listen to God’s voice. They were missionaries too,” Golden continued, touching on the theme, “Living Like a Missionary – Conforming to Christ’s Image.”

“Like these who have left their legacy among us, let’s be Jesus where He puts us,” Golden said.

The 55 registered messengers elected officers all by acclamation: president, Steve Ford, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Vermillion, S.D.; vice president, Tim Thompson, pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Mobridge, S.D.; and Kathy Osborne, a member at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Grand Forks, N.D., re-elected for the sixth term as recording secretary.

Messengers approved a 2010 budget of $1,321,284, a $3,000 increase from the 2009 budget. Of $265,000 anticipated in Cooperative Program giving from churches in the Dakotas, $41,075 -– or 15.5 percent, a half-percent increase over 2009 — will be forwarded to SBC national and international missions and ministries, continuing the state convention’s plan to increase Cooperative Program giving by one-half percent each year.

“The Cooperative Program gives each of our churches the opportunity to be involved in missions throughout the world,” said DBC Executive Director Jim Hamilton. “It draws us closer together in our shared purpose with all Southern Baptists — to fulfill the Great Commission of reaching, teaching and discipling all the peoples of the world.”

The budget includes an anticipated $936,984 from the North American Mission Board and $60,000 in salary assistance from LifeWay Christian Resources.

The top 10 churches in Cooperative Program giving and top 10 in per capita CP giving were honored at the annual meeting, with the top three in each category receiving a wooden plaque: First Williston, N.D., gave $31,692.89; Cross Pointe Sioux Falls, S.D., $24,237.52; and Cross Roads Minot, N.D., $19,344.20. In per-capita giving, Cross Roads Minot, N.D., gave $298 per person; First Williston N.D., $246; and Capitol Heights Bismarck, N.D., $228.

The biggest change to come out of this year’s DBC annual meeting was made by the program committee and approved without discussion by a show of ballots: The committee recommended abbreviating the 2010 annual meeting and holding it earlier in the year.

“The committee believes this format will encourage more participation since both church members and bivocational pastors would not have to take as much time off work,” according to the program committee’s written report. “The committee recommends that the 2010 Meeting be a one-day event held in Fargo, N.D., the evening of Sept. 30 and ¾ of the day on Oct. 1. The suggested meeting format would include one keynote speaker, message from the executive director, and a message from the DBC president.”

Messengers discussed a motion to open membership on DBC boards to non-Southern Baptists. Those favoring the motion said such a move would encourage other likeminded Christians to get involved with and support what Southern Baptists are doing. Those against it pointed to state conventions that had lost entities after non-Southern Baptists were added to their boards. After a time-out for mutual encouragement and prayer, the measure failed.

In the first of four resolutions, messengers pledged to support God’s Plan for Sharing, the new SBC-wide evangelism initiative, “and will encourage and challenge every Dakota Baptist church to seek ways and develop strategies and approaches to share the gospel with every person in the Dakotas and beyond by 2020.”

In the second resolution, messengers expressed appreciation for and affirmed the value of the North American Mission Board for its 25-year partnership with the Dakotas and pledged their “continual partnership and support.”

Messengers in their third resolution expressed their appreciation for and gratitude to present and former military men and women in the United States, and pledged to pray for “our military personnel across the world, as well as their families.”

The fourth resolution expressed appreciation and gratitude to Calvary Baptist Rapid City for being gracious hosts during the 2009 DBC annual meeting.

Worship was led by Keith and Joanne Longo of First Southern Baptist in Colorado Springs, Colo. Guest speakers included Tom Eliff, a former vice president of the International Mission Board and former SBC president; Jeff Ginn, executive director of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia; Gerald Harris, editor of The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Ginn preached from Mark 2:1-12 during the Wednesday evening session, about friends helping friends. He preached about cooperative, committed, creative and confident friends.

“To go forward there has to be some equity of weight, and for us as Southern Baptists, that’s proportional sacrifice,” Ginn said. “Each contributes his portion. … It’s a joy for us to be in cooperation with you in the Dakotas.”

Harris spoke of the need for and historical benefit of prayer.

“Things have been this bad before,” Harris preached. “God is so powerful He can even resurrect a dead church. …

“We’re trying to manufacture results like baptism without prayer,” Harris continued.

The final session of the DBC’s annual meeting closed with an altar call that led many to kneel before the Lord. The few remaining in their seats sat with heads bowed in prayer.
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Dakota Baptist and Louisiana Baptist Message, official newsjournals for those state conventions.