SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) — It was all about prayer. Messengers to the 108th annual meeting of the Illinois Baptist State Association Nov. 5-6 at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield pled for spiritual awakening and revival, highlighted in a Concert of Prayer based on Isaiah 6.
The 433 registered messengers also voted on officers for the coming year, welcomed new churches affiliating with IBSA and heard reports from IBSA entities.
Vocal quintet Veritas led in worship during the Concert of Prayer, and attendees were led to pray through a four-phase cycle: lament, repent, intercede and commit.
“I believe we need to cry out to God for spiritual awakening and for revival in our churches,” IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams said as he opened the Concert of Prayer.
Adams invited messengers and guests to lament the decline of their culture by moving to the walls of the room and using them as a sort of “wailing wall,” not unlike the famous one in Jerusalem where Jews pray. Soon a chorus of voices praying aloud could be heard.
“I’ve never been to the Wailing Wall, but knowing the purpose of the Wailing Wall and what it represents just kind of got me,” Rick Dorsey, pastor of Beacon Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago Heights, said. “It hit me in the gut. And just made me lament that we are still struggling to reach a lost world and not doing everything that He needs us to do, that we need to do in order to reach this lost world.”
After a season of personal repentance, small groups interceded for lost people they knew personally.
“‘Spiritually refreshing’ is the only way I can describe the wonderful Concert of Prayer we experienced Wednesday night,” Adams said later. “Dozens and dozens of folks came to me afterward and told me how very much they needed it. In fact, many described it as the best thing they’ve ever experienced at an annual meeting.”
Preachers at the pastors’ conference, which preceded the annual meeting, and the IBSA president’s message emphasized spiritual awakening and revival.
“The world is at its darkest, it’s a mess — in America, and sure enough in Illinois,” Marvin Parker, pastor of Broadview Missionary Baptist Church near Chicago, said. “Darkness is covering our state, with same-sex marriage and more. It’s messing with the fabric of the family.”
IBSA President Odis Weaver said, “If we’re going to push back the darkness in Illinois and in our nation, we’re going to have to get desperate. If we’re going to push back the darkness, we have to ask the question, How desperate is my church for spiritual awakening? How hungry are our hearts?”
In a phrase repeated by others several times, Weaver said, “We will either hunger for God’s righteousness out of desperation or … out of devastation.”
Church planting urgency
In his report, Adams said that during the past year four new campus ministries began, the total number of registered Acts 1:8 churches rose to 260, and 140 pastors and leaders engaged in leadership development.
Adams also challenged Illinois Baptists to plant more churches. Through August of this year, IBSA has helped start 16 new churches, down from 24 last year, he reported.
“We are not satisfied with that level of church planting in Illinois, and it will not allow us to significantly impact the desperate need of the lost of Illinois [with] relevant new Baptist churches that can deliver the Gospel in their context,” Adams said.
Citing the need for more church planters and more church planting sponsor churches, Adams said, “Together, we must ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field, particularly in the area of the church planting in Illinois.”
Messengers approved six resolutions brought by the IBSA Resolutions and Christian Life Committee: affirming the Bible’s authority; encouraging prayer for elected officials; repenting of sinful choices related to media consumption; including younger leaders in denominational life; encouraging prayer for the Palestinian Church; and affirming the resolution on transgender identity approved by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in June 2014.
A resolution on Common Core education standards was referred back to the committee for further study.
Leading up to the annual meeting, the IBSA Constitution Committee planned to ask messengers to suspend the rules of the IBSA constitution — bypassing the usual two-year process for constitutional revisions — to adopt a constitutional amendment allowing the Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services to have its own bylaws, in compliance with Illinois not-for-profit law.
“Upon further examination, however,” Adams told the Illinois Baptist, “the committee came to believe that it would not be proper parliamentary procedure to apply the ‘suspending of the rules’ action that Robert’s Rules of Order allows to the constitution itself.
“Rather than go against the IBSA constitution’s requirement for two readings at separate meetings, then, they decided that approval of separate Children’s Home bylaws and revision of their articles of incorporation at the IBSA annual meeting would allow for legal compliance, and that a first reading of the proposed revisions to the IBSA constitution would be sufficient,” Adams said.
Messengers unanimously approved the new bylaws and articles of incorporation for BCHFS.
“If the IBSA constitution is amended at the second reading next year, all the necessary documents will have been revised,” Adams said.
Budgets from IBSA, BCHFS and the Baptist Foundation of Illinois were approved during the business session. IBSA’s Cooperative Program goal for 2015 is $6.4 million — a decrease from this year’s $6.6 million goal — with 43.25 percent designated for national and international SBC missions and ministries and 56.75 percent for Illinois missions and ministries. The budget includes 10 percent in shared expenses with the SBC.
The association’s four officers were each re-elected by acclamation: president, Weaver, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Plainfield; vice president, Kevin Carrothers, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rochester; recording secretary, Melissa Carruthers, a member of Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville; and assistant recording secretary, Patty Hulskotter, a member of Living Faith Baptist Church in Sherman.
Messengers welcomed seven new churches affiliating with the association. IBSA’s Credentials Committee also recommended during its report that the association disaffiliate with seven churches that have been non-cooperating for eight or nine years.
Through the Ministers’ Relief Offering, taken during the annual meeting for pastors facing unexpected transitions, Illinois Baptists gave $1,651.
According to the 2013 IBSA Annual, the association includes 965 cooperating churches and missions with a membership of 212,608.
The 2015 IBSA annual meeting and pastors’ conference is scheduled for Nov. 10-12 at First Baptist Church in Marion.