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Northwest convention welcomes 16 churches

PORTLAND, Ore. (BP) — Sharing the Gospel message “from neighborhoods to nations” took center stage as Northwest Baptist Convention messengers convened Nov. 10-11 for their annual meeting in Portland, highlighting the motive for adopting a $5,267,000 budget for the convention’s 2016 mission efforts.

The NWBC meeting drew 320-plus messengers elected by their churches and more 70 other participants.

Among their first actions, messengers approved 16 churches for NWBC affiliation — 14 in Washington and two in Oregon. The convention territory covers Washington, Oregon and Idaho’s northern panhandle. The new affiliations bring the convention’s total of congregations to more than 480.

“We are a very diverse convention,” Randy Adams, NWBC executive director, said in welcoming the new churches. “About 135 of our churches speak a language other than English.”

Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, also pointed to the SBC’s increasingly diverse makeup in speaking at the annual meeting.

“Things are changing in our convention,” Page noted. “We are the most ethnically diverse convention on the [North American] continent. One out of five churches is ethnic.”

Page thanked Northwest Baptists for their part in the SBC’s worldwide mission cause, particularly through the Cooperative Program, the primary funding mechanism used by Southern Baptist churches across the country.

“Thank you for your collaborative work with the people of the world,” Page said. “You are part of something great — the Cooperative Program gives everybody a seat at the table. We can all have a part in ministry and mission.”

Messengers elected Steve Bryant, a member of Highland Baptist Church in Redmond, Ore., as the convention’s new president over Josh Martin, worship pastor of Resonate Church in Pullman, Wash. Matthew Savage, pastor of Journey Church in Everett, Wash., was elected first vice president as the lone nominee, with Martin then elected as second vice president without opposition.

The NWBC’s $5,267,000 spending plan for 2016 represents an increase in the total budget of nearly $169,000 over this year’s budget. It anticipates $2,777,000 in Cooperative Program gifts from the churches, an increase of $57,000.

The percentage of the Cooperative Program budget forwarded to the SBC for disbursement to global missions and ministries will rise slightly to 27.255 percent from last year’s 27.25. The amount forwarded to SBC initiatives is expected to increase from $741,000 by the end of this year to $756,733 next year.

Partnership funding from the North American Mission Board for 2016 is $1,976,194, an increase from the $1,891,010 in the 2015 budget. Partnership funding between NAMB and the NWBC is spent largely on church planting and evangelism.

Messengers also adopted a $120,000 regional offering goal — received by most churches each fall — for church planting (50 percent), Contextualized Leadership Development (20 percent), disaster relief (10 percent), Vacation Bible School (10 percent) and collegiate work (10 percent).

Adams, in his annual report to messengers, encouraged churches to trust God for results in ministry and look to His ultimate purpose prevailing.

“Our spiritual power and ministry effectiveness is utterly and totally dependent on what God is doing through us,” Adams said. “Don’t see context or circumstances as a limitation to what God can do.”

Citing the apostle Paul’s message in Philippians 2:15, Adams said faithful ministries “shine like stars in the night” against the backdrop of spiritual darkness.

“There are many communities throughout the Northwest that are known for the wrong things, yet we’ve heard testimonies of those who are having their testimonies renewed,” he said. “Our behavior matters; Christian, godly behavior matters — it’s our witness to a lost and dying world.”
Transformation happens “by the way we love, by the way we share the truth,” he said.

Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, echoed the importance of every believer sharing in God’s eternal purpose.

“You have a responsibility to take this back to your place of ministry and share it where you live,” Iorg said. “Every Christian has this responsibility. When you’re on mission with the Gospel, you involve yourself in God’s eternal work, His eternal purpose. When you do that, you plug yourself most closely into God’s grand plan.”

Messengers adopted resolutions speaking to a variety of cultural and ministry issues. Among them were statements affirming the work of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams; supporting persecuted Christians and churches in the Middle East; urging prayer for the nation’s political leaders and next year’s presidential election; honoring military service personnel, law enforcement officers and first responders; supporting the work of the International Mission Board; and encouraging intentional evangelism and disciplemaking in the Northwest.

Worship leaders from various Resonate Church sites in Washington and Idaho led convention messengers in praise and worship.

The 2016 NWBC annual meeting will be Nov. 15-16 in Spokane, Wash.

In news prior to the annual meeting, the Northwest Baptist Foundation unanimously elected Clint Overall, legal counsel for the foundation since 1998, as president. Overall succeeds Thomas Hixson, who resigned earlier this year to join the executive staff of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

Overall began his duties as president Nov. 1, overseeing an entity with about $42 million in funds under management. Its loan portfolio includes 43 loans to churches having an outstanding balance of more than $11 million.