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Kan.-Neb. Baptists mark 25th anniversary of conference center

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SALINA, Kan. (BP)–Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptists celebrated the 25th anniversary of their conference center as a place where “God is at work” as more than 450 people gathered Oct. 16-17 in Salina, Kan., home of Webster Conference Center.

The first three meeting sessions were held at First Southern Baptist Church in Salina, with Bel-Air Southern Baptist Church, the other Southern Baptist church in town, as co-host. The crowd, including 353 messengers and 102 visitors, gathered at the conference center on Tuesday night for the 25th anniversary celebration.

The convention’s officers were re-elected by acclamation: Steve Dighton, pastor of Lenexa (Kan.) Baptist Church, president; Steve Holdaway, pastor of West Bellevue Church in Bellevue, Neb., vice president; Bryan Jones, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Junction City, Kan., recording secretary; Gloria Garner, a member of First Baptist Church in Burlington, Kan., assistant recording secretary; and Tony Mattia, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Wamego, Kan., historian.

In other activities, LifeWay Christian Resources honored a Nebraska pastor as its 2006 Small Church Pastor of the Year. Jim Turnbo, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Scottsbluff, received the award to a round of applause.

Three other Nebraskans were honored for their efforts in ministry. Jennifer Mayfield serves as a Mission Service Corps missionary on the Santee Sioux Reservation and received the Kelley Shelton MSC Missionary of the Year Award named for a leader in Kansas-Nebraska Woman’s Missionary Union. Shelton and her husband Jeff went to Gatlinburg, Tenn., in the spring of 1999 to serve as MSC missionaries, and a few weeks later, Kelley died of injuries suffered in a canoe accident.

Bob and Rhonda Besco received the John and Shirley Hopkins Church and Community Ministries Award. The Bescos are MSC missionaries who lead the ministry of the Omaha Baptist Center. John and Shirley Hopkins were the longtime leaders of Southern Baptist Ministries in Kansas City, Kan. Now retired, they still make their home in that city. John Hopkins led church-and-community ministries for KNCSB and was editor of The Baptist Digest.

Messengers also celebrated KNCSB’s international and North American partnerships. In Mexico, the convention is working with Operation GO!, which stands for Gospel Outreach and is an effort to place the Gospel of John in every home in that country. So far in 2006, Nebraska-Kansas Southern Baptists have visited 50,000 homes in Mexico.

The convention has a prayer partnership with a country that is closed to the Gospel, and churches were urged to adopt one of the 127 people groups there. “We can pray the country open,” Mari Jaquith, KNCSB director of international partnerships, said. “That is my challenge to you.”

In Canada, Kansas and Nebraska Baptists are focusing on the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In Arkansas, their relationship has been taken to a new level in rebuilding efforts in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. KNCSB teams are partnering with Arkansas to rebuild homes, and Elijah (“Touch”) Touchton of Pittsburg, Kan., is the KNCSB team leader. He is an electrical contractor, and the teams’ main focus has been rewiring homes. So far in 2006, KNCSB teams have rewired 10 homes in New Orleans, saving homeowners $100,000 to $150,000, based on prices in that city.

Messengers adopted a 2007 KNCSB budget of $5.4 million, which is a slight decrease from the previous budget of $5.5 million. Thirty-two percent of Cooperative Program receipts will be sent to national and international missions and ministries, a percentage that remains unchanged from the current budget.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 15-16 at West Bellevue Church in Bellevue, Neb.

    About the Author

  • Eva Wilson

    Eva Wilson is editor of the Baptist Digest, newsjournal of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. Retired editor Tim Boyd contributed to this report.

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