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Dakota convention coincides with blizzard

MANDAN, N.D. (BP)–An untimely blizzard shortened the business of the 25th annual meeting of the Dakota Baptist Convention. The widespread first snowfall of the year Nov. 6 whipped with winds in excess of 50 mph across North and South Dakota.

Weather warnings kept attendance at the annual meeting down to about 75, about 40 fewer than last year, and news of worse weather to come led to the decision to trim the gathering by about five hours.

“We wanted to get everyone home safely,” Jim Hamilton, executive director of the Dakota Baptist Convention, said. “Under our blizzard conditions, I’m happy with the attendance. We had a good spirit. There’s a lot of good unity in our convention.”

With “Capturing Gods Heart: Living Like a Missionary” as its theme and guest speakers from its new partner state conventions, the meeting focused on giving as well as receiving.

Three-year partnership covenants were signed by Hamilton and representatives of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. DBC also recently entered a partnership with International Mission Board workers serving on a coastal strip near Montevideo, Uruguay.

Another main business item was the half-percent increase in the amount of Cooperative Program funds passed on from DBC to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee for distribution worldwide.

“We plan to increase it a half-percent each year,” Hamilton said. “This year it was 14.5 percent; next year it will be 15 percent. The Cooperative Program gives each of our churches the opportunity to be involved in missions throughout the world. 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.”

Dakota Baptist messengers approved a $1,318,284 budget for 2009, up $62,620 from the current year’s budget. This anticipates $39,300 to world missions through the Cooperative Program and $1,056,284 in CP dollars to the Dakotas from the North American Mission Board.

Messengers also approved the recommendation to organize The Answer Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., as an agency of the state convention. The Answer Center is the first Southern Baptist community ministry center in the Dakotas.

“We believe this will provide greater communication with and accountability to the DBC,” said Fred MacDonald, chairman of the DBC Executive Board, which made the recommendation to messengers. “It will also provide a framework for increasing the impact of this ministry in Sioux Falls and facilitate expanding the ministry to other urban centers in the Dakotas in the future.”

Messengers approved two resolutions: one in appreciation for the hospitality shown by First Baptist Church in Mandan, where the annual meeting took place, and one in affirmation of the challenge to live like a missionary with a passion for the salvation of souls and advancement of God’s Kingdom.

The current slate of officers each were unanimously re-elected by acclamation: Vince Smith, pastor of Cross Pointe Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, S.D., president; Steve Lindsay, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Rapid City, S.D., vice president; and Kathy Osborne, a member of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Grand Forks, N.D., recording secretary. Smith and Lindsay were elected to a second term; Osborne, to a fifth term.

Information that did not require a vote also was passed on to messengers. Garvon Golden was named associate executive director during the August Executive Board meeting. Golden also is Region Three (the western half of South Dakota) Missionary and Sharing Christ Team Leader. In a continuing reassessment of its regionalization strategy, the Dakotas were realigned by the Executive Board in August into four regions, two in each state.

Sarah Young was called by the Dakota WMU Council as president of the Dakota WMU. She is married to pastor Paul Young, and they serve at Dakota Baptist Church on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in Fort Totten, N.D.

DBC’s annual meeting was called to order by president Vince Smith, pastor of Cross Pointe Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, S.D. Worship was led by Caleb Hoover, worship leader at Cross Pointe and pastor of The Gathering, a new congregation designed to reach college students in the Sioux Falls area.

Guest speakers included Mark Custalow of the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia and Don Cass of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Because the schedule was compressed as a result of the blizzard, Hamilton and Smith did not bring their messages.

SBC entity reports were given by Marty and Melissa Childers of the International Mission Board, Roy Spannagel of the North American Mission Board, Sing Oldham of the Executive Committee, Dick Bodehamer of Woman’s Missionary Union, Shawn Dorrough of GuideStone Financial Resources and Steve Drake of LifeWay Christian Resources.

The introduction of 16 new pastors in the Dakotas since the last annual meeting was made through a DVD presentation, as were the regional missionary reports. Region One is without a missionary. Myron Grueneich, Region Two Missionary and Strengthening Ministry Team Leader, spoke of the need for leadership development.

“If we unite together to serve a common purpose, God’s purpose, we will see His glory and blessing,” Grueneich said. “Our arms linked together in cooperation will bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those who are far from Him and will make disciples authentic Christ-followers. If we can keep our purpose clear, compelling and common, we will see God’s glory in our lives, churches and convention more and more.”

Golden listed several people groups in western South Dakota that provide ministry and new work opportunities: motorcycle enthusiasts, cowboys and western heritage enthusiasts, and Native Americans. Golden spoke also of the annual intentional evangelism event that took place in Sturgis, S.D., in early August.

“With many good partners from outside the Dakotas who gave financially and sent volunteer teams, we had 177 volunteers who shared the Gospel with over 5,000 bikers, with 1,337 individuals praying to receive Christ,” Golden reported.

Follow-up to Sturgis is continuing. Names of people from outside the Dakotas were given to the North American Mission Board to send on, and in the Dakotas, 412 individuals prayed to receive Christ.

Buck Hill, Region Four Missionary and Starting Churches Team Leader, listed several new works: Hills of Grace in Rapid City, S.D.; Mission Fargo in Fargo, N.D.; Lifehouse ministries in Dilworth, Minn.; The Church at the Warehouse in Sioux Falls, S.D.; The Gathering in Sioux Falls; Set Free Beresford in Beresford, S.D.; Set Free in Sleepy Eye, Minn.; and Sleepy Eye Bible Church in Sleepy Eye, with others in varying stages of pre-start.

The Dakota Baptist School of Theology and Leadership, in conjunction with Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s Contextualized Leadership Development program, began offering diploma-level classes in January in Fargo, N.D., and Sioux Falls, S.D., reported Morgan Medford, DBSTL director and area missionary for Northland Baptist Association. As of the fall semester, Rapid City, S.D., became a third DBSTL site.

“Leadership development is critical to our churches,” Medford said. “As more and more students attend these classes, our churches will grow stronger and we will see evangelism, church planting and missionaries being sent out locally, nationally and around the world.”

The Dakota Baptist Foundation reported assets of $141,078, including $38,816 in the Dakota Pioneers Memorial Fund, which was established as a place people could give to honor the lives and ministries of those who helped establish and build the Dakota Baptist Convention.

Annual Church Profiles submitted to DBC showed 177 baptisms for the latest church year, which ended Sept. 30.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 12-13 at Calvary Baptist Church in Rapid City, S.D.
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Dakota Baptist and Louisiana Baptist Message newspapers.