[SLIDESHOW=52557,52558]FARGO, N.D. (BP) — The blizzard that halted traffic north, south and west of the Red River Valley that borders Minnesota held off until the close of the Friday, Oct. 11, final session of the Dakota Baptist Convention.
No problem. The two-state convention provided a night’s lodging for those trapped by a storm so severe snowplows were directed back to their garages for drivers’ safety.
“I think we’d have snow if we met in July,” Dakota Missions Director Buck Hill joked as he gave his annual report to 111 messengers and guests gathered at Temple Baptist Church in Fargo, and the congregation chuckled in agreement.
The annual meeting’s theme from Luke 19:1-10 — “Together with God we can find our one, to reach, to disciple, to send” — reflected the importance of “our one” to Dakota Baptists. Dakota Baptists also honored Executive Director Garvon Golden, who announced his retirement Dec. 31 after serving 20 years in the Dakotas.
He received a plaque of appreciation from the state convention; a framed original 1885 map of Dakota Territories from the DBC’s Executive Board; a tongue-in-cheek book of suggested sermons from Dakota pastors, noting Golden’s planned return to the pastorate; and a framed plaque from Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, which noted a longtime partnership between the Dakotas and the Kentucky Baptist Convention, where Chitwood had been executive director.
Messengers approved a $526,497.50 budget for 2020, a slight decrease of $6,502.50 from 2019. Dakota Baptists increased their Cooperative Program national budget allocation from 28 percent to 29 percent of an anticipated $411,497.50 from churches.
Re-elected to a second, one-year term were President Sean Donnelly, pastor of Black Hills Baptist Church in Whitewood, and Vice President Jimmy Dettman, pastor of Hills of Grace in Rapid City, S.D. Karen Holmes was elected recording secretary. She is a pastor’s wife from First Baptist Church of Wolsey, S.D. and Huron (S.D.) Cowboy Church. Debbie Flowers was elected assistant recording secretary. She is a pastor’s wife at Living Hope Baptist Church in West Fargo, N.D.
Two resolutions were passed by the convention. The first expressed appreciation to pastor Dude Garrett and Temple Baptist Church of Fargo for “being a model of a welcoming and hospitable host … [and] a blessing to all who have attended this meeting.”
The second was in appreciation with “sincere thanks” for Golden, with five “whereas” notes, including that he “has lived out his faith in Christ through countless and mostly unknown acts of charity and kindness to others.”
Bob Burton, Sending Church Coach and Pipeline Specialist with the North American Mission Board, spoke during a NAMB-sponsored lunch Thursday, Oct. 10, about the three-level Multiplication Pipeline. It’s designed in the first two levels to discover and develop leaders, and in the third, to send out church planters.
A representative from the International Mission Board, home less than 36 hours after nearly a four-year term away, spoke of his work with an unreached people group, and encouraged every Dakota church to partner in global missions.
Ashley Clayton, vice president for the Cooperative Program and Stewardship at the SBC Executive Committee, spoke of the vision SBC EC President and CEO Ronnie Floyd has for reaching the world for Christ.
Jeff Musgrave, church health and leadership development director, spoke of training he has led across North Dakota and South Dakota, which is “designed to help churches work through how groups can improve the health and ministry of the church.” His website — dakotadisciple.com — hosts blogs and podcast episodes.
An educational partnership with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary started this year. With curriculum designed by Dakotans for Dakotans, Musgrave said, Midwestern’s Spurgeon College will provide accreditation for certificate-level courses.
Buck Hill, Dakota’s Mission Director, spoke of the myriad of hands-on help the four state convention staff members are to pastors, leaders, members and churches in the Dakotas, which together cover 146,117 square miles.
One church plant — Set Free in Sturgis S.D. — started this year and four are to start next year, Hill told Baptist Press. Seven plants are scattered across the Dakotas at the present time.
Bethel Baptist Church in Wakonda, far southeast South Dakota, disbanded in 2018. Two churches in Aberdeen, S.D., merged into one, and two churches in Fargo, N.D., did the same, Hill added. This leaves DBC with 87 congregations.
Brandon Pederson told messengers that of the 44 post-high school education facilities in the Dakotas, two have active ministry groups. Yet 80 students are involved in weekly Bible study, 26 are in leadership development, and five have made professions of faith over the last year.
In his final Executive Director’s report, Golden said, “I want to finish strong.” He asked messengers to pray for the search process, trust the people doing the search, support each other and the state convention’s new leadership, and to seek God’s will and God’s man.
My prayer for the Dakotas,” Golden said, “is that we will be unified, that we will seek to glorify God above all and that we will value the opportunities that gives us to serve Him, to serve one another and to serve the Dakotas.”
The 2020 Dakota Baptist Gathering is to take place Oct. 8-9 in Rapid City, S.D., at a location to be determined later.