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Nev. Baptists endorse merger, increase CP

RENO, Nev. (BP)–Nevada Southern Baptists have endorsed a proposal to merge their state convention and four associations into one entity and — over a five-year period — to increase by two-thirds the percentage of Cooperative Program giving forwarded to national causes.

Messengers also adopted a $2.38 million budget for 2011 — virtually level with the 2010 budget — and voted to increase the amount of Cooperative Program funds sent to national and international Southern Baptist causes by one-half percent. The new formula will send 30 percent to the SBC and retain 70 percent for Nevada Baptist Convention ministries.

The budget anticipates $896,530 in Cooperative Program receipts for 2011 from Nevada Baptist churches.

The 205 messengers, meeting for the convention’s 32nd annual meeting Oct. 19-20 at South Reno Baptist Church, also adopted five recommendations brought by the Nevada Baptist Convention’s Executive Board after six months of research, discussion and listening sessions conducted by a 14-member task force led by Hoyt Savage, pastor of Foothills Baptist Church in Las Vegas.

The proposal’s first four recommendations call for Nevada Baptists to embrace:

— A renewed emphasis on prayer, repentance and personal evangelism. “When the chronicles of the Nevada Baptist Convention are written, may they reveal a prayerful and repentant people empowered by God — sharing the Good News with every man, woman, and child in this state. If we fail in prayer, repentance, and evangelism, we fail everywhere.”

— A “churches start churches” value. “Future church starts must be tied to churches, not individuals. Though we wholeheartedly support and affirm the work of missionaries in the church-starting process, we feel strongly that effective church starts will be accomplished by a single church or a family of churches working together.”

— A new commitment to pastor/church partnerships across the state. “With the development of new technologies and resources, many churches relate to other churches based more on affinity while others relate more based on proximity. We recommend implementing a program of voluntary pastor-to-pastor or church-to-church partnerships for encouragement, resourcing, and prayer support.”

— A new spirit of financial sacrifice to fulfill the Great Commission. “Although we don’t know all the ways NBC’s ministry funding might change, we are committed to be proactive rather than reactive. To be effective in the future, the NBC needs to be lean and visionary — more self-sufficient financially and less dependent on ‘outside’ funding sources.”

The fifth recommendation is for the Nevada Baptist Convention to invite all four of the state’s Southern Baptist local associations “to unite into one ministry entity called the Nevada Baptist Network.” The invitation asks those decisions be made by July 2011.

The document, which was adopted by a vote of 130-48, also calls for the state convention to move to a 50/50 split in Cooperative Program receipts over the next five years. An amendment calls for detailed information about the new organizational structure and roles of accountability to be presented at the 2011 annual meeting.

“We sense God is calling us to a new vision of cooperation among Nevada’s churches,” the report states. “Our recommendation calls for a single ministry organization — less bureaucratic, more cooperative, and more focused. By streamlining the organizational structure, we can build a healthy foundation to accomplish the task of strengthening existing churches and starting new ones.”

In September, Savage told Baptist Press that four factors influenced the decision to bring such a dramatic proposal: uncertainty about the impact of the national Southern Baptist Convention’s Great Commission Resurgence plan on missions funding in Nevada; the difficult economic climate facing churches in the state; declining church revenues; and a desire to be a force for mission advance rather than an object of outreach.

Nevada’s Southern Baptists “face some exciting days and, candidly, some tough decisions lie ahead, as well,” the document stated. “The implications for our state are not yet completely understood. There is some uncertainty on a national convention, state convention and even on an associational level. One thing is certain: Change will and must happen.”

The document noted that Cooperative Program missions receipts in Nevada have dropped by more than 20 percent over the past three years, and it stated that 91 percent of the state convention’s financial resources come from the North American Mission Board. The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in June, calls for existing funding agreements between NAMB and state conventions to be phased out and renegotiated.

The full text of the final document is available on the Nevada Baptist Convention website, www.nbcsbc.org.

Messengers also elected a slate of new executive officers: president, Ron Trummell, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Pahrump; first vice president, Thomas Chandler, pastor of First Baptist Church in Carson City; and second vice president, Mike Farris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Tonopah.

Convention attendees heard messages from Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas; Joe Taylor, pastor of South Reno Baptist Church in Reno; Terry Arnold, NBC interim executive director; Michael Rochelle, pastor of Shadow Hills Baptist Church in Las Vegas; and Frank Bushey, pastor of Fellowship Community Church in Reno.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 18-19 in Las Vegas.
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor for Baptist Press. Compiled with information provided by Terry Arnold and Hoyt Savage.

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