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Dakota celebrates Cooperative Program giving

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (BP) — With “Together We Can Because He Can” as its annual meeting theme, and a Cooperative Program dinner to start things off, messengers to the Dakota Baptist Convention (DBC) voted again to increase Cooperative Program giving next year by 2 percent.

This was in addition to the $25,000 it sent in extra funds to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries earlier this year, for the second year in a row, because of increased giving by DBC churches.

This giving increase was accomplished because churches being started in North and South Dakota are giving 10 percent to missions through the Cooperative Program, and other churches are being revitalized and giving more, DBC Executive Director Garvon Golden told Baptist Press.

“But I like to think God is honoring our convention because ever since I became executive director we made a commitment to increase CP giving to 20 percent, from 16 [percent], and did that in one year, and we decided we would increase 2 percent every year after that,” said Golden, who noted the two-state convention’s increase this year to a 28/72 percent split between Dakota and SBC ministries. “I just believe God is honoring our churches for their sacrificial giving.

“We made a conscious decision as a convention that we were going to give more and keep less,” Golden added.

This includes the “eventual movement to volunteer and contract field staff,” the executive director told 70 messengers from 42 of DBC’s 90 churches and about 20 guests during his report.

“The reason we want to go to field-based contract work is that we can train and develop pastors and laypeople on the field to use the expertise they have to help the churches around them,” the executive director told Baptist Press.

Golden noted contract field workers would be less costly to the state convention — in salary, benefits and travel — and at the same time would provide some income for the field workers trained and directed by the state staff.

“It really turns out to be a win-win situation for us,” Golden said. “This might be the best and most efficient way to use the resources we have and reduce the geography of our convention.”

DBC combines its pastors conference and annual meeting into one event called “Dakota Baptist Gathering.” An evening dinner — sponsored by the SBC Executive Committee — celebrated Dakota Baptists’ support for the Cooperative Program.

Ashley Clayton, the SBC Executive Committee’s vice president for Cooperative Program and Stewardship, shared a word of thanks to Garvon Golden and Dakota Baptists for their CP giving in the last 18 months, and commended messengers at the gathering “upon their approval of a new CP budget that includes a higher percentage of CP gifts being passed on to the SBC,” Clayton told Baptist Press.

This year’s gathering, which took place Oct. 11-12 at Cross Pointe Church in Sioux Falls, S.D., included Southern Baptist entity leaders. Dave Miller, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, was the keynote speaker at this year’s meeting. Miller is a former second vice president of the SBC and former president of the Baptist Convention of Iowa. He also was president of the 2017 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference and is active on the SBC Voices blog site.

Miller spoke from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 on “the four great truths we learn from the Old Rugged Cross: depths of man’s sin, glory of God’s love, power of God’s plan and the finality of God’s victory,” he told Baptist Press. His message from Matthew 16-17 and Acts 2:1-4 “called people to seek the fullness of the Spirit so they could be all God has called them to be,” he added.

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, also was scheduled to speak, but was unable to make it due to unexpected illness, Golden said. Jonathan Land, pastor of Connection Church in Sioux Falls, S.D., which Land started in 2014 and now attracts nearly 200 people to Sunday worship in a rented building, filled in for Akin.

“I chose Jonathan because he was in Sioux Falls,” Golden explained. “We wanted to spotlight those who serve in Siouxland, and he is an excellent preacher and servant leader.”

Land spoke from 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 on “what we mean when we say ‘gospel-centered,'” Land told Baptist Press. “Being reminded of and remaining in the finished work of Jesus.”


The business part of Dakota’s gathering consisted of hearing reports from state staff, national entity leaders, and the Alliance for Defending Freedom. Messengers also passed unanimously a $533,000 budget, elected officers, made presentations and approved two resolutions: one to thank Steve Ford, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Vermillion, S.D., for his two years’ service as DBC president, and one to thank Cross Pointe Church, where Ben Hernandez is pastor, for hosting the annual event.

The $533,000 income projected for 2019 is $54,000 more than last year’s $479,000 budget, when $60,000 more than expected came in from Dakota churches, Golden said. More than the expected income came in the previous year as well. And both years, $25,000 in addition to budgeted giving was sent to SBC missions and ministry.

The projected income includes $415,000 from Dakota churches, $50,000 from the North American Mission Board for administration, $60,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources, and $8,000 in interest income.

Of that, $116,200 is allocated for national CP causes, up $22,600 from last year’s budgeted $93,600.

NAMB also reimburses DBC for church planting — up to $440,000 — and up to $80,000 for evangelism.

New this year in the budget is $4,000 for Native American work. Steve Osage, who was in the Dakotas for nine years, has returned from Oklahoma. He is pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Waubay, S.D., and is leading the First Nations Baptist Association in the Dakotas.

“He’s going to help us with Native American work in evangelism and discipleship,” Golden said. “We’re already seeing fruit. Our Native American churches are being more connected to our convention.”

As a part-time consultant for DBC, Osage is an example of the two-state convention’s move toward field-based contract workers. About 15 churches worship in the Dakotas in a Native American context.

Another contract worker new this year is Brandon Pedersen, a collegiate catalyst who works out of Grace Baptist Church in Vermillion, S.D., and on the campus of the University of South Dakota.

“He is going to make himself available to work with other college communities in the Dakotas,” Golden said. “He’s been doing this work for 10 years, [two at Grace Vermillion] and the [state] convention has been putting some money into his support with an eye that when the work he started at USD was stable, he would look at others.”

New officers for the Dakota Baptist Convention are Sean Donnelly of Black Hills Baptist Church in Whitewood, S.D., elected president in a contest with Jimmy Dettman, pastor of Hills of Grace Fellowship in Rapid City, S.D., who then was elected vice president in a contest with Kent Pletcher, pastor of First Baptist Church in Langdon, N.D.

Ernie Nelson, pastor of Outreach Community Church in Box Elder, S.D., was elected recording secretary. Karen Holmes, pastor’s wife at First Baptist Church of Wolsey, S.D., was re-elected assistant recording secretary.

Fifteen pastors and vocational staff new to the Dakotas were recognized and presented an etching of a ring-necked pheasant, which now are prolific across the two high plains states.

“We do this to let them know first of all, that when they see it hanging on their wall that they’re being prayed for in the Dakotas,” Golden said. “It’s also to convey the message that the ring-necked pheasant came from China in the early 1900s and thrived, and that’s what we want them to do.”

John Flowers, pastor since 2000 of Living Hope Baptist Church in West Fargo, N.D., received a bison carved from North Dakota coal in honor of his retirement as colonel after 27 years as head chaplain with the North Dakota National Guard.

“John has faithfully ministered to men and women in the National Guard of North Dakota,” Golden said. “He has helped pastors and churches understand how to adjust to returning from combat overseas, as well as to being deployed in times of national emergencies and crises. All this while pastoring and leading his local church.”

Alliance Defending Freedom made a presentation regarding its offer to look at each church’s legal documents, and to provide legal counsel if a church were to be sued. This service would cost churches less than $200 a year.

“We’re hoping churches will take advantage of this,” Golden said, because of the climate of today’s lawsuit-prone culture.

“Our annual meeting is more like a family reunion,” the executive director noted. “That’s what we focus on: relationship building, having a lot of time to visit and interact, and just for people to see one another, make new friends and renew relationships.

“We look at the Dakota Baptist Gathering as being centered around fellowship and encouragement,” Golden continued. “If you use that as a measurement for this meeting, it was very successful.”

The 2019 annual meeting of the Dakota Baptist Convention is set for Oct. 10-11 in Fargo, N.D.