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Mississippi-Dakotas ministry relationship encourages Great Commission mindset

Mississippi Baptists pray together in Minot, N.D. Photo by Tanner Cade/MBCB

BISMARK, N.D. (BP) — A group of 26 Mississippi Baptist Convention Board pastors and ministry leaders met with peers within the Dakota Baptist Convention this week and representatives from the North American Mission Board, spending four days strategizing and dreaming of future partnerships toward spreading the Gospel.

It is the latest in a series of similar partnerships to connect MBCB churches with others around the country, even internationally, said Mike Ray, director of Missions Mobilization for Mississippi Baptists.

Jeff Mueller, pastor of Restore Church in Yankton, S.D., speaks to Mississippi Baptist pastors. Photo by Tanner Cade/MBCB

“The local church is the one that’s going to take the Great Commission,” said Ray, who was with the group that met and mingled with DBC pastors from May 8-11. “We’re there to facilitate that, get them connected to take the Great Commission to the world.”

The MBCB helped offset travel costs for the group, as it did two weeks ago when 18 pastors and leaders traveled to Maine for the same reason. Over the last eight months more than 80 Mississippi Baptists have undertaken eight such “vision journeys,” as they’re being called, to locations including Buffalo, Japan, Toronto and the United Kingdom.

“It’s a wonderful example of the kind of cooperation Southern Baptists are built on,” said Shawn Parker, Mississippi Baptists state executive. “A state-to-state relationship is a pure form of that.”

Parker preached at the Dakota Baptist Convention’s evangelism conference two weeks prior to the Mississippi Baptists vision journey this week. The ministry relationship, he said, can be mutually beneficial.

Mississippi pastors look over church locations on a North Dakota map. Left to right are: Mel Howton, New Salem Baptist in Caledonia; John Davis, Yellow Leaf Baptist in Oxford; and Kenneth Armstrong, Mount Comfort Baptist in Bruce. At right is Buck Hill of the NAMB/Send Network. Photo by Tanner Cade/MBCB

“[DBC Executive Director] Fred [MacDonald] and I are convicted that we can help each other in ways that play to our strengths,” Parker said. “We’ve talked about those options such as how they can help in areas like the [Mississippi] Delta.

“This benefits Mississippi Baptists in that it gives us another outlet for ministry in an area in need. We already have a strong connection with the Dakotas because quite a few of our guys have gone up there to plant churches. This will expand our opportunities to work with those churches.”

This week’s gathering took place at a central meeting room at a hotel, but participants also traveled to churches and towns within a two-hour radius.

“There are people who are literally living in an area where church attendance is not even an option for them,” said Casey Hughes, pastor of Meadowview Baptist Church in Starkville, Miss. “It’s not so much that [they don’t have access to] a trustworthy Gospel-preaching church, there are just no churches for people that, really, are drawn to worship Jesus, that know Jesus and grow in a relationship with Him.”