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Idaho church knows impact that Cooperative Program has

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (BP)–Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho, acknowledges the unending debt it owes and the unceasing gift it gives to the Cooperative Program, the Southern Baptist Convention’s method of funding missions, missionaries and seminary training.

Birthed with CP Missions money, Calvary Baptist in 1951 was the first Southern Baptist church in southeastern Idaho. It since has given life to at least a dozen other churches — its latest offspring is a granddaughter church across the state in Hayden, north of Interstate 90 in the Idaho panhandle.

“When we’re involved in missions, the Cooperative Program is always there to help,” said Kirk Casey, Calvary’s pastor for the last seven years. “When we partner up to do missions work, it’s a joint partnership with all Southern Baptists through CP Missions.”

Calvary is involved in CP missions through the SBC at the local, state, regional and global levels; the SBC’s International Mission Board has designated it a Global Priority Church because of its involvement in and commitment to global missions.

Calvary gives 24 percent of its undesignated offerings to missions, including 12.5 percent to the Cooperative Program and 2.5 percent to the Eastern Idaho Southern Baptist Association, and several other regional, state and local mission causes.

“We believe it’s important to reach our community for Christ and to have an influence in our world,” Casey said. “The Cooperative Program helps us do both. It’s the best missions giving and missions opportunity out there. It’s the best budgeting tool that exists.”

The church has a hands-on approach to national and international missions in several ways:

— It sponsors a Hispanic mission in Idaho Falls.

— It co-sponsors a youth camp; eight churches and some 160 youth will participate this year.

— It provided a 62-passenger bus for Southern Baptist mission work on Indian reservations in southeastern Utah.

— It hosts a Vacation Bible School that brings in at least 220 youngsters every summer — drawn in part by the float the church usually builds for the annual Fourth of July parade.

Calvary, which averages about 150 worshipers for its Sunday morning service, doesn’t just give money. It gives itself — members are involved in meeting needs in a variety of missions. Women of the church provide a gift shower for the local crisis pregnancy center. Women also participate in birthday parties at a local nursing home.

At least 75 members assisted in providing free hot chocolate one freezing night in 2002 when the Olympic torch passed through Idaho Falls on its way to Salt Lake City and the Winter Olympics.

Several members have gone on short-term mission trips, including Mary McFarling, in her 12th year as church secretary. She recently returned from a fact-finding trip to the Arabian Peninsula — Bahrain and Oman, specifically. The Utah-Idaho State Baptist Convention is considering a partnership with churches in that region.

Its church planting history includes Salmon Valley Baptist Church 30 years ago. That church recently started Northstar Baptist Church in Hayden, Idaho. Northstar’s pastor, Scott Hanberry, refers to Calvary’s pastor as the “Grandpa,” indicative of the camaraderie with which Casey builds relationships that lead to Kingdom growth.

Casey said the Cooperative Program impacted him long before he became pastor at Calvary Baptist.

“One way that I have personally benefited from the Cooperative Program was as a seminary student,” Casey said, referring to the Cooperative Program’s funding of the six Southern Baptist seminaries. “I’m grateful for the excellent education I received at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and the missions opportunities I have had.”

While a student, Casey served in summer missions in Fort Yukon, Alaska, and Fort Hall, Idaho. He returned to Fort Hall Indian Reservation as a Mission Service Corps (MSC) volunteer, where he served as an assistant to an Indian pastor. The SBC’s North American Mission Board endorses MSC volunteers for missions and ministry; MSC volunteers must raise their own financial support.

“Being part of Southern Baptist missions certainly nurtured my call into ministry and helped to confirm that,” Casey said. “Being a Mission Service Corps volunteer teaches you greater trust in God and His provision.”

He passes along to Calvary the lessons he’s learned about trust and obedience.

“God commands us in the Great Commission to get involved in missions, in what He’s doing around the world,” Casey said. “To be a follower of Christ we need to obey Him. When we obey Him in the Great Commission, this helps us to be obedient in other areas.

“Obedience pleases God.”