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Ill. Baptists celebrate records in number of churches, budget

DECATUR, Ill. (BP)–More than 600 messengers to the 1999 annual meeting of the Illinois Baptist State Association celebrated a record number of member churches in the state association and adopted a record $8-plus-million budget.
With an annual meeting theme of “Celebrate Jesus 2000,” messengers welcomed 30 congregations to the state association’s rolls, bringing the total number of congregations affiliated with IBSA to 978. The 30 new congregations represent an approximate 3.2 percent increase in the total number of Illinois Baptist congregations and were the second-highest number of churches ever added to the state association in one year. Thirty-two churches were added in 1959.
A 2000 budget, which projects $8,237,024 in anticipated income and $8,310,159 in anticipated expenditures, was adopted during the Nov. 3-4 meeting, marking a 3.5 percent increase over the 1999 budget. The 2000 budget calls for 41.25 percent of the anticipated Illinois Cooperative Program receipts of $6,180,922 to be forwarded to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries, the same percentage adopted with the 1999 budget, which formerly had been 40.75 percent.
With such growth, however, come the inevitable growing pains of difficult questions to answer. Messengers to the annual meeting in Decatur voted to rescind a recent action of the state association’s board of directors regarding guidelines for recognizing new associations.
In a motion brought to the floor by Tom Rains, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Quincy, messengers discussed guidelines approved by the board of directors in September that would require any new associations in the state association to have a minimum of 15 cooperating churches and missions and give a total amount of 7 percent of all undesignated gifts to the Cooperative Program.
Rains described the guidelines as a violation of local church and associational autonomy and made a motion for messengers to rescind the action of the board of directors regarding the guidelines. Ron Rhodus, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Hillsboro and chairman of the strategic planning and associational services committee that created the guidelines, stated that the requirements were not intended to violate such autonomy but rather were designed to help new associations be strong numerically and financially as well as be major participants in Illinois Baptist life. After discussion, the motion to rescind the action of the board of directors passed in a standing vote.
Three ministers and one layperson were elected as officers for IBSA. Timothy Lewis, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Troy, was elected by acclimation as president, while Pat Pajak, senior pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur was elected as vice president in a three-nominee ballot. Layperson Becky Arnett, a member of First Baptist Church of McLeansboro, was elected by acclimation as recording secretary.
Messengers approved seven resolutions. The approved resolutions expressed appreciation for Billy Graham, Central Baptist Association and IBSA staff and IBSA retirees; support of prayer and human worth based on the image of God; and opposition to violence and ethnic cleansing. Messenger Jim Duncan, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, urged the state association’s resolutions and Christian life committee to reconsider a resolution on church discipline, postponed from the 1998 annual meeting, but no formal action was taken this year.
The annual meeting also highlighted Illinois Baptists’ partnership with Kazakhstan, where 20 Illinois Baptist teams will serve in 2000, the final year of the partnership.
Messengers also heard a report from Phil Miglioratti, city coordinator for Strategic Focus Cities in Chicago. Miglioratti encouraged all Illinois Baptists to consider involvement in the evangelistic/church-planting initiative involving four associations in the Chicago metro area.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 1-2 in Quincy.

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  • Margaret Dempsey