CARSON CITY, Nev. (BP) – Four years ago, two solid, Carson City Southern Baptist churches (First Baptist Church and Capital Baptist Church) dissolved, and Mountain Vista Baptist Church was planted the next Sunday.
About 60 people attended Sunday services at First Baptist, which allocated 10 percent of undesignated offerings for missions through the Cooperative Program, the way Southern Baptists work together to increase God’s kingdom in the United States and internationally.
About 110 people attended Sunday services at Capital Baptist, which allocated 8 percent of undesignated offerings for missions, including 3 percent through the Cooperative Program.
Pre-COVID average attendance at the new Mountain Vista pushed 200. Today, nearly 170 people attend Mountain Vista Baptist Church weekly. Chase Ward, who previously was pastor of Capital Baptist, is Mountain Vista’s pastor.
The merged congregation now allocates 18 percent of undesignated offerings to missions, with 10 percent going through the Cooperative Program. Last year, missions giving surpassed 22 percent of all designated and undesignated offerings.
“We believe in the Cooperative Program,” Ward told Baptist Press. “We believe in the mission of the International Mission Board, putting missionaries on the field as quickly as we can.
“We believe in church planting. We believe in helping churches. We just believe it’s important to be involved in all of that,” the pastor continued. “We believe in the work of the Southern Baptist Convention, and we fully support it.”
He and other Nevada pastors, each with one layman, went to Italy and Greece in 2017 to see how Nevada Southern Baptists could help with refugees from North Africa and the Middle East.
“When we were in Greece, we saw a community center started by IMB (International Mission Board) workers and used to help refugees coming for meals, for Bibles, for connection and care,” Ward said. “IMB workers and short-term missions volunteers – college students through retired people – were sitting with the refugees, talking – mostly listening – to them, as they spoke of what they were – and had been – going through, and ministering the Gospel.
“We also see our CP dollars get good church plants started in places where there is no or very little Gospel,” the pastor continued. “I’ve seen our mission dollars do good work internationally and here at home.”
The specific reason for the merge of Capital and First was to “Glorify God and further His Kingdom in better reaching our city,” Ward said. “We’ve been able to do more with missions, outreach and events, now that we’re together. God’s hand has been in it from the start.”
Bob Chambers was pastor of First Baptist when Ward was called from Indigenous Ministries International based in Colorado Springs, Colo., to pastor Capital Baptist. The two men quickly became friends, and as attendance at Capital Baptist began outgrowing its building and Chambers told him about his coming retirement, Ward first brought up the possibility of a merger.
“When Bob retired [from First Baptist] he came to Capital and became one of our elders,” Ward said. “God had used him to grow and heal First Baptist, which helped prepare for the merger. Bob was crucial in the merge process.
“It was so great to see how God was leading in this,” the pastor continued. “He’s shown Himself to be faithful and good. It’s been fantastic to watch God at work.”
Today, in addition to its Cooperative Program, associational missions and seasonal missions giving, Mountain Vista Baptist Church ministers hands-on and financially through three local organizations: Life Choices pregnancy clinic, Advocates to End Domestic Violence, and FISH – Friends in Service Helping, an organization providing emergency and temporary services to the people of Carson City.
Women in the church put together basic essentials for women and children escaping from domestic violence. The church as a whole provides school supplies for teachers to disperse as needed at Fritsch Elementary School, caddy-corner from Mountain Vista Baptist. It also has food and clothing drives for FISH.
“At Christmas we do like an Angel Tree for kids in that school,” the pastor said. “The school identifies families in need and we provide clothing and presents for the kids and other children in the family. Our women have a wrapping party, and we leave it up to the parents to decide if it’s from Santa or them.”
A letter from the church to the family is included with the gifts, welcoming them to the church and sharing God’s love for them.
In nearby Reno, 15 miles north of Carson City, Mountain Vista Baptist supports Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, which works on campus at the University of Nevada, Reno. The church also works with Awaken in Reno, an organization that promotes changing laws for brothels and clubs, and which ministers to the women coming out of that scene. In addition, Mountain Vista Baptist is the sending church for Higher Vision Church in the north valleys of Reno, which started in 2019.
“Our community is growing rapidly,” Ward said. “We’ve had a lot of large developments and one is a block from our church, so to reach out to this new community, we’re really trying to build all our children’s stuff, like VBS, midweek kids’ classes, and we’ve finished up some expansion projects, including a commercial playground.”
Mountain Vista Baptist also enlarged its paved parking lot from 88 to 144 spaces, designed to allow the church to be used as a Disaster Relief center, with two entry points so semitrailers can go easily in and out of the lot.
“We’re a disaster-ready church,” the pastor said. “We gave a presentation this last summer so our city knows what we have and can do, and had local leaders for disaster situations attend. “We can bring in big trailers, for laundry, showers, food and clean-up. About every 10 years we have major floods, and we live on the edge of fire country.”
In order to effectively reach its community, Mountain Vista Baptist also is focused on discipling and mentoring its members so there is leadership where needed.
“Nevadans in our area are willing to talk about spiritual things,” the pastor said, “but at the end they say, ‘Hey, that’s great for you.’ We use the relationships that come naturally, speak as we can of spiritual things, and let God do the rest.”