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NAMB transfers “Vancouver Focus” campaign to Canadian Conv.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has transferred coordination of “Vancouver Focus” — Southern Baptists’ multi-year church planting and evangelism initiative in Vancouver, British Columbia — to the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists (CCSB).

The Canadian Convention is assuming day-to-day management and responsibility for Vancouver Focus so the program can launch with a stronger Canadian influence and more realistic expectations, according to John Yarbrough, vice president-strategic initiatives for NAMB at its Atlanta-area offices.

“NAMB will continue to partner with the Canadian Convention, Vancouver Focus and the Capilano Southern Baptist Association to support the initiative, including the same amount of funding,” Yarbrough said. “However, the planning and expectations will be developed by Canadian Southern Baptists over a longer period of time.”

Vancouver was announced three years ago as one of NAMB’s Strategic Focus Cities, and was on schedule to implement a comprehensive plan of church planting and evangelism this year and next. Strategic Focus-designated cities receive extensive resources -– volunteers, finances and prayer –- from the Southern Baptist Convention to expand the presence of Christ locally.

“This change in our partnership with Canada to impact Vancouver reflects the need to follow their lead in working in their culture and setting,” Yarbrough said. “We’ve come to the mutual conclusion that initial plans and goals were probably too aggressive for a Canadian city, because the culture is so different than the United States, although the need is the same, Jesus. We must rely on our Canadian colleagues to help us know how best to assist them in impacting their culture with the Gospel.”

Gerald Taillon, national ministry leader of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists, said the convention welcomes the responsibility.

“This is a great opportunity for us to partner even more closely with Vancouver Focus and the Capilano Association, which is what we do all the time,” he said. “We see this as a win-win situation for everyone involved to be more effective in reaching people for Christ.”

Citing a statistic that Vancouver is only about three percent Christian, Yarbrough said NAMB discovered that the city is one of the most secular, humanistic and lost cities in North America.

“Vancouver is a tremendous city and will require our best efforts and partnerships with our Canadian brothers and sisters to come alongside them to impact that great city with the Gospel,” Yarbrough said, adding that the eventual success of Vancouver Focus is made even more important because of the city’s hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The Strategic Focus Cities concept established in 1998 continues to be a learning experience and a work in progress, Yarbrough said.

“We are learning and changing to discover the best ways to join the associations and state conventions to assist churches in these great North American cities to do what Baptists do best -– share Christ and start churches,” Yarbrough said.

“We have seen God do some tremendous things through the 10 SFC cities that have partnered through NAMB to add a focused approach to their ministries. This has resulted in more than 420 new Southern Baptist churches, more than 50,000 volunteers mobilized in these cities, along with increases in baptisms, attendance and giving,” said Yarbrough.

“The churches planted in Strategic Focus Cities have had a higher than 80 percent survival rate.”

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