LINCOLN, Neb. (BP) — With nearly half the counties in Kansas and Nebraska lacking Southern Baptist churches, congregations there must purposefully connect to overcome the isolation they face, the president of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists noted during their annual meeting.
“We need each other,” John Shields said. “We need to overcome the vulnerability of our isolation by connecting on purpose.”
Such isolation met Shields when he became pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Lexington, Neb., 18 years ago, he said, after having grown up in the southern U.S. “where there are Southern Baptist churches on every corner.” Instead, Southern Baptists churches in the two Great Plains states were separated by as many as 60 miles, with affiliated churches in only 110 of the 198 counties there.
The 68th annual meeting challenged messengers to join together in even greater levels of cooperation. “Strengthening Churches” was the theme, based on Acts 16:5, emphasizing the convention’s core values of starting, strengthening, sharing and sending.
Messengers adopted a 2014 budget of $5,413,728, about 1 percent below the 2013 amount, anticipating $2,904,000 in Cooperative Program receipts from the 423 affiliated churches, about the same amount churches gave this year. CP receipts from churches have declined more than $550,000 over the past five years, KNCSB Executive Director Bob Mills said, hampered by an economic recession and changes in supplements from Southern Baptist Convention entities.
Financial self-sufficiency is the group’s goal, with Mills emphasizing the need to “move in the direction of becoming self-supporting.”
Kansas-Nebraska will no longer retain a portion of CP receipts to cover certain expenses shared by the state and national conventions, messengers voted.
The group will forward 23 percent of CP receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions, increasing the appropriation by 50 percent of any receipts from churches in excess of the budgeted CP revenue.
Mills encouraged churches to increase their contributions to the CP, to enable a greater appropriation to national and international causes.
“Am I satisfied with [the 23 percent contribution]? No,” he told messengers.
New Covenant Community Church in Lincoln, Neb., hosted the Oct. 14-15 meeting, attended by 258 registered messengers and 48 registered visitors.
Newly elected officers are president, Andy Addis, pastor of CrossPoint Church, Hutchinson, Kan., and vice president, Joe Stiles, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Lawrence, Kan., who outpolled Derek Lynch, pastor of Blue Valley Baptist Church in Overland Park, Kan.
Messengers reelected recording secretary Bryan Jones, pastor of Tyler Road Southern Baptist Church, Wichita, Kan.; assistant recording secretary Susan Pederson, a member of Prairie Hills Southern Baptist Church, Augusta, Kan.; and historian Tony Mattia, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Wamego, Kan.
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, encouraged messengers to meet the 1% CP Challenge to increase their CP giving by 1 percentage point of their budget.
Jason Allen delivered the keynote address upon the one-year anniversary of his presidency of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.
“Theological education exists for the local church,” Allen said. “The Lord has called me to serve the churches in this region especially.”
Alan Branch, professor of Christian ethics at Midwestern, was the Bible study leader.
Messengers honored John and Patty Lucas of Junction City, Kan., for their retirement after more than 20 years of service in KNCSB disaster relief. Wayne and Ruth Ann Kittelson, longtime volunteer coordinators for Nebraska, were named Mission Service Corps emeritus missionaries.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 13-14 at CrossPoint Church in Hutchinson, Kan.
Eva Wilson is associate editor of the Baptist Digest, newsjournal for the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists.