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Nev. Baptists urged to reach state’s unchurched population

RENO, Nev. (BP)–Ambulance sirens blared as members of the Nevada Baptist Convention staff dressed in medical scrubs wheeled their executive director to the stage on a gurney while checking his vital signs and calling for a doctor in the house.

Once “revived” in the dramatization, Thane Barnes told the 300 messengers and guests at the annual meeting that 95 percent of Nevadans are dying without a Savior. Drastic measures are needed to reach the state, Barnes said, and Nevada Baptists are the witnesses who can get the job done. He closed the presentation with a call to prayer at the altar and a call to make a commitment to the Acts 1:8 Challenge, which calls on Baptists to be witnesses for Christ in their cities, their states, their countries and the world.

A total of 107 messengers representing 42 churches gathered at South Reno Baptist Church for the Nevada convention’s Oct. 19-20 annual meeting. They approved a 2005 budget of $2,550,424, which is a slight increase over the current budget of $2,309,177, and increased the portion of anticipated Cooperative Program gifts to be forwarded to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries, to 28.5 percent of receipts, up from 28.25 percent for CP Missions last year.

During his address, Barnes preached from Colossians 1:9-11 with an emphasis on evangelism.

“What’s it going to take to be boldly evangelistic?” he asked. “What’s it going to take to reduce the lostness in Nevada? I believe it’s going to start from the source of power from Jesus, reducing lostness by starting and growing healthy congregations and developing leaders.

“We could empty all of our seminaries and put them into the world and not touch the lostness,” he added. “The harvest is ready. If we don’t go after the harvest, they die.”

Barnes said Baptists need both knowledge of God’s will and the commitment to apply it to their lives.

“We need to match the pair of bookends where our walk matches our talk, and we need the power of God strengthening us to accomplish anything,” he said.

Eddie Hancock, president of the convention and pastor of Grass Valley Baptist Church in Winnemucca, told messengers God’s way is the best approach to any situation.

“We are always coming up with new ways to do things,” he said during his address. “The best way is God’s way. When God comes up with something new, it is always good.”

Hancock reminded the convention that no one is perfect, but God chose each Nevada believer to be a witness for Him despite any obstacles.

“We belong to Him,” he said. “When I look around me, I get discouraged. But when I take a vertical view, I get encouraged. The Gospel gives us life. Be His witnesses.”

Messengers elected new convention officers at the meeting: Hoyt Savage, pastor of Foothills Baptist Church in Las Vegas, president; Mike Farris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Tonopah, first vice president; and Frank Bushey, pastor of Fellowship Community Church in Reno, second vice president.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of First Baptist Church in Carson City, a resolution of appreciation was passed in honor of the congregation’s faithfulness to Kingdom work in Nevada. Messengers also passed a resolution recognizing Harvey Broadway, pastor of Silver Peak Baptist Mission, for 50 years of service in planting and nurturing 11 congregations.

A three-year partnership with the Florida Baptist Convention was announced, and a partnership agreement was signed.

Next year’s meeting will be Oct. 18-19 at First Baptist Church in Las Vegas.
Based on reporting by Sandy Farnham.

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