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Minn.-Wis. Baptists increase CP, reduce budget

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MADISON, Wis. (BP) — Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists will increase the percentage of Cooperative Program receipts they forward to Southern Baptist Convention causes despite reducing their overall budget by more than a third due to a shift of North American Mission Board funds.

“Refresh” was the theme of the 32nd annual meeting of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention, Oct. 23-24, at Midvale Baptist Church in Madison, Wis. The theme was based on Proverbs 11:25, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” It was the same theme used for the convention’s state mission offering this year.

The 81 messengers, representing 44 of the convention’s 182 churches, approved a $1,308,056 budget for 2016, a 34 percent decrease from the 2015 budget of $1,970,008.

The decrease was attributable largely to the reduction of seven staff members who previously were funded jointly by the MWBC and NAMB. Those missionaries will become fully funded by NAMB under the supervision and strategy of the MWBC. They are Steve Melvin, church planting catalyst; Dave Wedekind, evangelism/missions ministry catalyst; and all five church planting catalysts — Mark Millman, John Draper, Dennis Hansen, Jon Beck and Gerardo Antivero.

The MWBC anticipates receiving about 36 percent of its budget — $468,000 — from churches through CP. Other sources of income include NAMB, LifeWay Christian Resources, special missions offerings and interest.

Of the money received through CP, the convention will forward 20 percent to SBC missions and ministries in North America and worldwide, up from 17 percent in 2015.

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Amid the standard business items and reports were testimonies of church planting, calls to ministry and the power of God at work in local churches. Each session featured a theme interpretation along with worship, music and prayer. Leo Endel, MWBC executive director, led a 45-minute pre-convention prayer meeting immediately preceding the first session.

Rick Schulze, pastor of Graceway Baptist Church in Green Bay, Wis., delivered the president’s address during the closing session. Francis Tabla, pastor of Ebenezer Community Church in Brooklyn Center, Minn., preached the annual sermon.

The annual Missions Celebration Dinner featured a missionary visiting the U.S. for a few months before returning overseas to her assignment with the International Mission Board. The Baptist Foundation of Texas hosted a closing luncheon and provided information on charitable giving. Former MWBC staff member David Sundeen, now with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, brought a report and hosted a breakfast for alumni and friends of Midwestern.

The convention elected three new officers for 2016: president, Paul Fries, pastor of Blue River Valley Church in Muscoda, Wis., and Muscoda Church in Richland Center, Wis.; vice president, Jackie Hill, pastor of Roseville (Minn.) Baptist Church; and second vice president, Tony Gulbrandsen, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Racine, Wis.

Re-elected were: recording secretary, Wes Shemwell, a member of Midvale Baptist Church in Madison, Wis.; and assistant recording secretary, Jim Gress, a member of Southtown Baptist Church in Bloomington, Minn.

The 2016 annual meeting will be held Oct. 2829 at North Center Baptist Church in Brooklyn Park, Minn.