FARGO, N.D. (BP)–After a three-year emphasis on living like a missionary, the Dakota Baptist Convention’s 2010 annual meeting focused on “Loving like a missionary.”
“Loving like a missionary means loving God enough to say, ‘Here I am; send me,’ even to the frozen chosen of the Dakotas,” Garvon Golden, the convention’s associate executive director, said in the opening session’s theme interpretation. “Loving like a missionary is making the mission field your home, and the people who live there, your family.”
The day-and-three-quarter event was shortened by a day and held about a month earlier than previous annual meetings in order to better accommodate bivocational pastors and employed laypeople. The meeting took place at the Doublewood Inn and Conference Center in Fargo Sept. 30-Oct. 1.
The program included adoption of the 2011 budget, a video presentation of a dozen new pastors in the state, recognition for the “Top 10” Cooperative Program churches in total dollars and per capita giving, re-election of officers currently serving, a report from outgoing Executive Board chairman Bill Savery, and major addresses by Executive Director Jim Hamilton and convention President Steve Ford.
The 2011 budget of $1,305,484, approved without discussion, was $15,800 less than the 2010 budget.
“We’re trying to tighten our belts,” Hamilton said. The 16/84 DBC/SBC allocation in Cooperative Program giving reflects a .5 percent increase in funds for national and international missions causes. The dollar amount also is expected to increase, from $41,075 in 2010 to $42,400 in 2011.
“[The North American Mission Board] is a good partner, our best partner,” Hamilton said. NAMB provided $936,984 to the Dakotas in 2010. This money came from the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering gifts from Southern Baptist churches across the country.
It is unclear how much might be coming from the North American board in 2011, Hamilton said.
“We do know NAMB’s not going to let us keep multiple staff,” Hamilton said. “I’m hearing they will not be funding directors of mission but they will fund church planting missionaries.”
Hamilton spoke more on money and missions during his executive director’s address.
“Giving to missions is not new,” Hamilton preached. “We [Southern Baptists] didn’t invent it. We just practice it. It’s first-century Christianity. It’s God’s plan.”
Hamilton’s message, tied to Philippians 1:9 — “pray your love grows more and more” — challenged his listeners to love everyone in their lives, not just other believers.
“I’m tired of just talking about loving Jesus,” Hamilton preached. “It’s easy to love people who love Jesus, but what about those who … call themselves Christian, but they’re just practicing religion? That might be where the church is today.
Hamilton noted: “We’re not going to make it in the next five or 10 years if we don’t love each other.”
A total of 10 visitors and 55 messengers registered for the 2010 Dakota annual meeting, credentials chairman Sandy Lytle of Living Hope Baptist Church in West Fargo reported. The two-state convention has 92 congregations.
Steve Ford, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Vermillion, S.D., was elected to serve a second term as convention president. Also re-elected: Tim Thompson, pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Mobridge, S.D., as vice president and Kathy Osborne, laywoman from Grand Forks, N.D., as recording secretary.
The annual meeting closed with testimonies by messengers. Paul Young, pastor of Dakota Baptist Church in Fort Totten, N.D., spoke of the recent deacon ordination of Rob Graywater, a Native American who over a period of 30 years was discipled by four Dakota Baptist pastors. “All had a part in a 30-year commitment to raise up a Native American leader,” Young said.
The 2011 DBC annual meeting is set for Sept. 29-30 at Cross Pointe Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal for churches in the Louisiana Baptist Convention.