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Northwest Baptists celebrate diversity of their churches

TACOMA, Wash. (BP)–Drama, ethnic dancing, professional musicians, Korean banquets and inspirational messages were enjoyed during the Northwest Baptist Convention’s Nov. 12-14 annual meeting at Tacoma First Baptist Church, Tacoma, Wash.

Five media presentations, written and produced by Laurie Kuykendall and Marc Douglas, depicted the theme, “It’s About the Churches,” through a panoramic view of churches across the Northwest. The video segments captured the diversity of the two-state convention’s churches — rural and urban, formal and informal, Caucasian and multi-cultural, big and small.

“We must celebrate our growing diversity of churches,” said Jeff Iorg, NWBC executive director, in his welcoming statement to 450 messengers who represented 162 of the convention’s churches. “It’s required for Northwest Baptist churches in order to reach people for Christ.”

A recap of events of the past year supported his statement. Holgate Baptist Church in Portland sponsored the largest FAITH Sunday school evangelism/discipleship conference in the United States. Baptist Collegiate Ministries meetings on college campuses across the Northwest had unprecedented numbers of students in attendance. The six Southern Baptist churches in the Coast Baptist Association partnered with other coastal evangelical churches to reach their communities through the “Jericho on the Coast” evangelistic outreach. Churches in Seattle and around the Puget Sound continue to cooperate in their Strategic Focus City efforts. Churches have provided financial support — the most recent report on NWBC Cooperative Program showed it ahead of last year’s pace by 3 percent.

Texas pastor Ralph West of Houston’s Brookhollow Baptist Church spoke words of encouragement to the churches in his three keynote addresses. Citing events in the life of Elijah, West reminded that times when things look bleak are often times when God is at work.

“God bears our burdens then he brings back our blessing,” West said. “He feeds us and works things out in the ‘in-between’ times.”

The business session included adoption of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message as the statement of faith for the NWBC.

A budget of $5,109,381 was approved for the coming year, just slightly under the 2001 budget. In Cooperative Program giving, $2,788,399 is anticipated, of which 68 percent will continue to be allocated for Northwest Baptist missions and ministries and 32 for Southern Baptist Convention causes, marking a 1 percent-of-budget increase for national and international outreach from the current year.

Kevin White, pastor of First Baptist Church in Longview, Wash., was elected president in a ballot with two other nominees, both of whom subsequently were elected to posts; Bruce Sloan, pastor of Chehalem Valley Baptist Church, Newberg, Ore., as first vice president, and Dan Brandel, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, as second vice president. Appreciation for two years of service as president was extended to Phil Peters, pastor of First Baptist Church, Drain, Ore.

Messengers were informed in a report from the executive board that the Northwest Baptist Center mortgage will be financed at a rate of 7.25 percent, which will save $1,003 per month in payments and $38,963 over the next 35 months. No extension of time was added to the loan. The board also passed a motion encouraging Executive Director Jeff Iorg and director of missions Don Beall to pursue a partnership with the Korean Baptist Convention to focus on three distinct areas — church planting, cooperative missions and evangelistic exchanges.

Among convention resolutions, messengers noted:

“Because our nation and the world is involved in a crisis of terrorism and destruction:

“– We affirm our Christian responsibility to pray for our President and national and world leaders

“– We thank God for His working to bring about spiritual awakening and renewal in the midst of tragedy

“– We encourage our churches to respond to every opportunity for outreach and ministry

“– We express appreciation for the service and sacrifice of emergency and disaster relief workers and those involved in homeland security and their families.

“– We express our gratitude and prayer support for military personnel and their families involved in the battle against worldwide terrorism.

“– We express condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have experienced loss and encourage humanitarian aid to innocent victims of this conflict

“In conclusion, we place our trust in the Prince of Peace to bring about peace on earth.”

In another resolution, the convention noted: “In recognition of the service and sacrifice made by veterans of the United States Armed Services, we encourage churches to respond to the ministry needs of veterans and their families.”

Jim Ingram, pastor of Olympic Baptist Church, Edmonds, Wash., and a representative from the credentials committee, presented to the messengers seven churches for acceptance to the NWBC: Romanian Baptist Church, Beaverton, Ore., Eusebiu Rusu, pastor; Cornerstone Baptist Church SBC, Coos Bay, Ore., John Cossey, pastor; Cornerstone Baptist Church, Salem, Ore., Tommy Sims, pastor; Harrison Community Baptist Church, Harrison, Idaho, (pastorless); Set Free Christian Fellowship of Aberdeen, Wash., Set Free Christian Fellowship of Elma, Wash., and Set Free Christian Fellowship of White Center, Seattle, Wash., each led by Kenny Rice as pastor.

Kelly Boggs, member of the Northwest ethics and religious liberty committee, challenged messengers to fight the fire of immorality that continues to sweep the nation.

“What are we doing to extinguish the flames?” Boggs, pastor of Valley Baptist Church, McMinnville, Ore., asked. “Evangelism is our thing, but termites are destroying our moral foundation.”

Pastor Chang Moon, the host pastor, referred to the Book of Acts to sum up the spirit of unity that marked the annual meeting, noting that as long as Northwest Baptists are continually devoting themselves to meeting together for worship, producing disciples, and spending time on their knees, these will be churches that God will bless.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 12-13 at DoubleTree Hotel, Pasco, Wash.
Moerer is associate editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness newsjournal.

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  • Derinda Moerer