RENO, Nevada (BP) — Nevada Baptists celebrated their 40th anniversary with a theme of “Legacy” that included memories of the past and vision for the future.
Organized in October 1978 after nearly 30 years of Southern Baptist churches being started and informally cobbling together for fellowship, what is known today as the Nevada Baptist Convention began with 65 churches and missions and a $135,000 annual budget that included 10 percent — $13,500 — to missions through the Cooperative Program.
Today, the Nevada convention encompasses 215 churches and plants and a 2019 budget of $2,248,220, which includes 50 percent of the anticipated $1,176,020 Cooperative Program giving from Nevada churches — or $588,000 — allocated to CP national and international missions and ministry.
Records also indicate at least 52,136 individuals have been baptized during the last 40 years.
“During the process of preparing for this 40th anniversary of the Nevada Baptist Convention, it became more and more apparent that we are not the beginning nor the end of the legacy God intends for Nevada,” White told messengers during the opening session of the NBC’s Oct. 16-17 annual meeting at South Reno Baptist Church, where Joe Taylor has been pastor for 25 years.
“Looking back should remind us of not only where we came from, but the call God has placed on our lives,” White said.
The annual meeting followed a 40th anniversary celebration Monday evening, Oct. 15, at the Atlantis, a hotel/casino in Reno, attended by about 200 people from several states. They gathered to reminisce as well as to celebrate “what God hath wrought” since the first Southern Baptist church in Nevada — in Hawthorne, southeast of Carson City — in 1948 became part of the SBC.
Reminiscing by former executive directors and state convention staff Monday evening led to the next day’s annual meeting that seemed to many — including David Meacham, who was the NBC’s executive director from 1992 to 2001 — as more a revival than business.
The NBC Worship Collective, a group of worship leaders from across Nevada, led 128 messengers from 51 churches in sometimes rousing, sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes reflective worship during the four-session annual meeting.
Nevada Baptists listened to or watched reports from national entities and Nevada state leaders, including Ashley Clayton, vice president for the Cooperative Program and stewardship for the SBC Executive Committee, in addition to passing the 2019 budget and electing new officers.
“It is my privilege to see what Southern Baptists do, and what I see is never better than in the West and especially here in Nevada,” Clayton told messengers. “Every year for the last six, Nevada has given over its budget and increased its budget the next year.
“You have proven your commitment,” Clayton continued. “Nevada has given $28 million dollars so far to missions through the Cooperative Program. That is a phenomenal commitment…. The Cooperative Program is your connection to ministries all over the world.”
The $2,248,220 total budget, which passed unanimously and without discussion, includes $1,176,000 in Cooperative Program giving by Nevada churches; $1,006,000 from the North American Mission Board — $726,000 for church planting, $180,000 for evangelism and $100,000 for administration; $65,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources; and $1,200 in other income. The 2019 budget is $42,448 more than last year’s $2,205,772.
Nevada for the fourth year allocated 50 percent of CP income from churches to Southern Baptists’ global mission causes, up a projected $21,214 from last year, from $566,786 to $588,000 in 2019.
Damian Cirincione, executive pastor of Shadow Hills Church in Las Vegas, was elected as president unanimously and unopposed as was vice president Tim Royal, pastor of The Bridge Church in Spring Creek.
No old, new or miscellaneous business was presented. The sole resolution expressed gratitude for the “overflowing love and hospitality” of South Reno Baptist Church and pastor Joe Taylor.
Mention was made in the reports of several Nevada staff noting the deaths this year of seven pastors, including five in Las Vegas.
“Of these God called home, some were long-tenure pastors while two were church planters,” White said. “The lives of each represented well the legacy God had placed in their ministry in Nevada.” The men were Rudy Duett, first president of what today is the Nevada Baptist Convention, Jose Dilone, Lary Rothchild, Rich Vogt, Mike Farris, Andrew Kim and Nelson Dominguez.
The Tuesday morning session included White’s executive director’s report, a succinct wrap-up of Nevada’s first 40 years, and the 30 that preceded it. His words were a revivalist’s reiteration of the call and the challenge that “it must always be about the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ” and “Stoke the fire; go get them,” in addition to a recounting of the last year’s activity printed in Nevada’s Book of Reports.
In that written report, White noted that church planting remains a major focus, since the number of Southern Baptist churches continues to “lose ground to Nevada’s population growth”; that Paul Harwood has joined the state convention staff in the area of church health; and that finances are about 5 percent ahead of budget.
If the trend continues, 2018 will be “the sixth consecutive year we have exceeded our annual budget,” White wrote in his report.
“I thank God,” White told the messengers, referring to 2 Timothy 1:4-7. “It’s not about the numbers. It’s about God…. If your church is not supernatural, it’s superficial…. God has given you a spirit of power, of love, of sound judgment.”
Tuesday afternoon’s session included a 34-minute discussion by a panel of longtime pastors and the men some called “young bucks.”
Longtime pastors were asked what they would like to tell younger pastors while younger ones were asked what they would like to ask longtime pastors.
Two longtime pastors — Hoyt Savage of Foothills Baptist Church in Las Vegas and Michael Rochelle of Shadow Hills Church in Las Vegas — reflected on the legacy of Nevada Baptists.
Savage spoke of the need to know God and grow in Him in order to be able to leave a legacy, with Rochelle noting, “The greatest legacy we can leave is the legacy of faith. It is impossible to please God without faith.”
Heiden Ratner, in his third year as planter/pastor of Walk Church in Las Vegas, closed the session.
“What a kick it is to be part of this,” Ratner said. He wouldn’t be 30 until the following week, he said, in contrast with men who spoke before him who have been in ministry in Nevada since before he was born.
Nevada is part of God’s legacy, Ratner said. “It’s a legacy of access into His presence, His power, through prayer.
“I believe there is much to be learned from the past…. However, I also believe God wants to do something now,” Ratner continued, citing the familiar Psalm 118:24 “This is the day he Lord has made….” passage.
Ratner spoke of one of his favorite promises, 2 Corinthians 9:8, “the legacy of God who is able,” and closed with Jeremiah 32:27’s query to God, “Is there anything too hard for you?”
The 2019 annual meeting of the Nevada Baptist Convention is scheduled for Oct. 14-15 at Shadow Hills Church in Las Vegas, where Brett Capaci is pastor.