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FROM THE STATES: Ariz., N.M. and Okla. evangelism/missions news; ‘God-ordained encounter’ fuels ministry partnership

FROM THE STATES: Ariz., N.M. and Okla. evangelism/missions news; ‘God-ordained encounter’ fuels ministry partnership

Today’s From the States features items from:
Portraits (Arizona)
Baptist New Mexican
Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)


Small Ariz. church plants
churches near and far

By Jean Bihn

SHOW LOW, Ariz. (Portraits) — A small Arizona congregation is reaching across miles and even oceans to follow God’s call to plant churches. While some may think it would take a very large group to accomplish such feats, this congregation numbers about 80 members.

Throughout its history, Burton Baptist Church has helped financially support several new churches, including Silver Lake Family Fellowship near Show Low, First Baptist Church of Show Low, The Shepherd’s Gate Community Church in Sun City and New Hope Church in Taiwan.

“Our hearts are open to any church plant, because we want to be part of what God is doing,” Pastor Matt Gaston says.

The latest church planting effort Burton Baptist Church is supporting is in Keams Canyon in the Hopi Nation.

Burton is working with a former International Mission Board missionary on the endeavor.

Mike Campbell was an IMB missionary in Eastern Europe for 12 years when he felt God calling him back to the United States. Inspired by his work with native peoples overseas, Campbell researched indigenous people in the United States, finding a great number living in Arizona.

In what could be called a God-ordained encounter, Campbell and Gaston met in a restaurant parking lot in 2015, shortly after Campbell traveled to Show Low for a visit. Gaston was leaving a restaurant with a group of members. Campbell spoke up and was introduced to him.

Campbell, who is also a student at the Arizona Campus of Gateway Seminary, was called as missions pastor at Burton and now lives in the Burton church parsonage. The church helps support him financially as he also serves as a North American Mission Board church planter.

“Without [Burton’s] support, I couldn’t do this,” Campbell says.

“This” includes evangelism, working with believers through house meetings, and hosting Wednesday basketball games followed by Bible study for youth — all in the Hopi Nation.

“The more we went up there, the more they became interested,” Campbell says. “I want to concentrate on two things: youth ministry and social issues. Those kinds of things are essential to any work up there.”

In addition to reaching out through basketball, Campbell hopes bringing archery to the area will draw more youth. A recent Vacation Bible School in nearby Tuba City that included archery drew 50 young people every day, he says.

From Burton and Show Low to Sun City and Taiwan, God shows us through this small church’s outreach that distance and numbers need not be intimidating when He is at the helm.

Jean Bihn, a freelance writer and photographer, is a member of Mountain Ridge Baptist Church, Glendale.
This article appeared in Portraits (portraits.azsbc.org), newsjournal of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. Jean Bihn, a freelance writer and photographer, is a member of Mountain Ridge Baptist Church, Glendale.


N.M. church planting
“pipeline” develops leaders

By James Trevillian

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Baptist New Mexican) — When Bryne Palmer’s church planting desires got ahead of his planting skills, the Church Planting Pipeline offered internships, apprenticeships and mentoring to close the gap.

Palmer, pastor and planter of Rio Church in Albuquerque’s “Old Town,” had realized early on that he “wanted to plant a church” and “had a desire to push the Gospel forward.” But, Palmer lacked preparation for church planting. He expressed his desire to plant to Chad Spriggs, the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s church planting catalyst for northern New Mexico.

Spriggs connected Palmer with an internship sponsored by the BCNM and the North American Mission Board. He also connected Palmer with Jared Bridge, pastor and planter of Anchor Church, Albuquerque. Palmer said Bridge was “strong in the areas I was weak.” He said he saw the value of being connected with Anchor Church as a sponsoring church. This “churches plant churches” approach “seemed like the natural, biblical fit for planting churches,” he remarked.

During the rigorous internship, Palmer read assigned books, had weekly meetings with Bridge and experienced every aspect of Anchor’s ministry, including preaching, administration, children’s ministry and youth ministry. He also hosted a “community group,” which became the Rio Church launch team, and developed a prospectus, budget and demographic study as a foundation for Rio Church’s launch.

Palmer also helped Anchor’s ministry. Bridge noted that Anchor’s attendance increased from the time Palmer began his internship to the time after Anchor sent 40 people with Palmer to start Rio Church. Bridge described this counter-intuitive result as “addition through subtraction.” Anchor also launched a second service and young adult ministry due to Palmer’s involvement.

Rio Church launched in June 2017.

The process Spriggs initiated is called the “Church Planting Pipeline.” Bridge described the pipeline as a “leadership development tool to help develop leaders that can be potential church planters,” and as “a way to raise up lay people to explore planting.” Palmer described it as a tool to “take guys who might be called to ministry” and help them to discover their calling. The entire process takes about three years, and can be adjusted to fit individuals and their needs.

Pipeline participants initially study ministry basics and then focus on ministry philosophy and “good practices and disciplines.” If a participant feels called to church planting, his pipeline’s final stages resemble Palmer’s internship at Anchor: The planter builds a team and lays the foundations for planting.

Bridge, reflecting on his own pipeline experience, said, “It is an incredibly generous, life-giving and resourceful network for church planters and pastors who are taking the biggest risk professionally in their lives.” Currently, he has three more individuals in the pipeline at Anchor Church.

Today, Palmer has become a mentor, too. Curtis Heppler, a member of Rio Church’s launch team, demonstrated ministry potential. Palmer and others noticed and encouraged him. But, traditional ministry training requires individuals to leave what they do, move to another city and attend seminary — three steps that posed challenges for Heppler. So, Palmer thought Heppler could benefit from the Church Planting Pipeline.

If Heppler completes the pipeline process and becomes a church planter, Rio Church would become a parent church, and Anchor would become a grandparent church.

Churches or individuals interested in the Church Planting Pipeline should contact the BCNM’s Missions Mobilization Team.
This article appeared in the Baptist New Mexican (gobnm.com), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. James Trevillian is social media specialist and webmaster for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.


Okla. church hosts multi-
cultural church service

By Emily Howsden

ADA, Okla. (Baptist Messenger) — In southeastern Oklahoma, four churches are taking part in a cultural joining of congregations to break racial strongholds.

“We can’t question why the world can’t figure this out when we can’t figure this out and come together as churches.” said Rusty Fuller, lead pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Ada, Okla.

Fuller, pastor of a mostly Caucasian congregation, along with Jordan Parnacher, pastor of Faith Baptist in Ada, a Native American congregation; Navor Cuevas, pastor of Trinity Hispanic Baptist Church in Ada and Ricky McGee, pastor of Reaper Baptist Church in Ada, an African American congregation, decided that, as four congregations with differing cultural backgrounds, they would do something to bring about change in their community.

“As all of us began to dialogue about what an evening of unity would look like between our congregations. We agreed that there was prejudice among our people, and we needed to come together to break that prejudice,” Fuller said.

So on Sun., April 29, the four churches gathered at Trinity Baptist for a night of unity as one body of believers. The evening began with a meal hosted by the Trinity, where a host couple was seated at each table to ensure interaction between the four congregations.

In preparation for the gathering, Fuller said, for a month before the service, deacons and other members of the congregation came together to pray for the gathering.

“We were very strategic and had challenged each other to have meaningful conversation around our tables and just to love on our brothers and sisters in Christ,” said David Gray, associate pastor at Trinity.

“Our heart was to create an environment where we could all talk about our differences and model what church ought to be and certainly Christianity.”

Following the meal, a Gospel message and worship time took place in the auditorium across the street.

Josey Allen, music and worship leader at Trinity, said, “We could tell that God was preparing our hearts for that evening. As we looked out into the congregation, those of us on stage had the best view. I think it was a little taste of what eternity will look like — having everyone there just praising and worshiping our King and Father.”

The reaction from members of all congregations was just what the four pastors had hoped. Members of Fuller’s congregation are still talking about the evening, saying it was one of the best things their church has done.

Just as they did before the gathering, the church service ended with the four congregations coming together to pray for the future of their church partnerships.

“We have answers after that first meeting, and I think the answers are good answers. People are wanting to see this type of thing, and, to God be the glory, we just tried to create the environment for it to happen. God showed up, and it worked well, and we’re looking forward to the next meeting.”

The churches plan to meet quarterly, with the next meeting scheduled at the beginning of August at Reaper Baptist Church.
This article appeared in the Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Emily Howsden is a staff writer for the Baptist Messenger.


EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board’s call to embrace the world’s unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. Except for minor style, security, formatting and grammatical changes, the items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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