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Partnerships with Ark. & Tenn. celebrated by Iowa Baptists

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (BP)–The conclusion of the 10-year Iowa-Arkansas partnership and the inauguration of the new Tennessee-Iowa partnership highlighted the Nov. 2-3 “Partnerships”-themed annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Iowa at Immanuel Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids.

Emil Turner, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and Gary Rickman, partnership coordinator for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, shared perspectives from their states during the convention’s partnership celebrations. BCI Executive Director Jimmy Barrentine led in a covenant reading and in the prayer times during the partnership celebrations.

Ed Gregory, BCI associate executive director, presented a review of the past and future partnerships, noting, “There have been over 2,000 Iowans led to Christ during the Arkansas partnership.”

Between $600,000 to $800,000 has been received by Iowa churches from Arkansas churches and agencies during the decade of partnership, Gregory reported.

“During this time of partnership, 40 churches were started,” Gregory said. “Many of them were the direct result of Arkansas mission teams coming to Iowa to do construction work, Backyard Bible Clubs, surveys and VBS [Vacation Bible Schools].”

The Arkansas partnership, Turner noted, “is not over in a sense.”

“We intend to continue to help service the churches we helped to start,” he said.

Turner remarked that one of the unexpected results of the partnership was that Barrentine came to Iowa as the convention’s executive director. Barrentine was the first partnership coordinator in 1991 as he directed the Arkansas Baptist State Convention missions team in its work with Iowa Baptists.

Turner related the story of a friend of his wife who learned to witness and teach VBS as she prepared to go on an Iowa missions trip. She also took on an extra job to help pay her expenses for the trip. “You helped us look to the world as we sent Arkansans to Iowa,” Turner said.

Rickman presented a collection of Tennessee gifts to Barrentine and BCI President Leo Endel on behalf of TBC Executive Director James Porch. Porch was unable to attend the convention due to leg injuries he sustained in a fall.

In other action, messengers approved a ministry plan, which includes a budget of $1,662,876. It marked a 1 percent increase from the previous year’s budget. Twenty percent of the funds will be directed toward the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program, while the remaining 80 percent will be used in Iowa missions efforts. Barrentine told Baptist Press that while the percentage is down 2 percent from the 2000 budget, he anticipates the actual CP dollar amount to increase over the previous year’s budget.

“We changed the formula for giving,” he said. “In the past, Cooperative Program has been paid off of disbursements and in previous years the disbursements have fallen below actual receipts. We anticipate giving more to Cooperative Program through this new formula.”

Leo Endel, pastor of the Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City was reelected president of the convention. Others elected as officers were David Miller, pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church, Cedar Rapids, first vice president; Bob Ray, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Shenendoah, second vice president; and Terry Wilkinson, co-pastor of CrossPointe Church in West Des Moines, recording secretary.

Ted Keys, pastor of the Community Baptist Church, Waterloo, preached the convention sermon. He thanked God for the Arkansas and Tennessee volunteers who came to his city this summer to help build a church fellowship hall/education building.

“When a hard thing becomes real, it becomes a lifestyle,” Keys said. “You cannot celebrate partnership until you have unity. When the world sees unity, they see strength. If you want to celebrate the partnership, you put your blood on the line and leave your attitude at home.”

In the president’s address, Endel talked about being a “Southern Baptist Church in the North.” He referenced remarks by Barrentine noting, “An Iowa church is considered a cult when they are not involved in their community.”

Endel urged Iowans to search for indigenous leaders who will share Christ in ways that are culturally relevant to Iowa. He pointed out statistics showing the decline of many mainline denominations, while evangelical churches with a vibrant message of Christ are growing.

Messengers adopted four resolutions including one that expressed grief and concern over the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Future convention meeting sites and dates also were approved: Grace West Church, West Des Moines, Nov. 1-2, 2002, and First Baptist Church, Winterset, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2003. The committee will recommend the convention be held at a church on the west side of the state on Nov. 5-6, 2004.

One hundred and two messengers registered for the meeting, along with 98 guests. There are 95 churches and missions affiliated with the Baptist Convention of Iowa.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: 10 GOOD YEARS and IOWA & TENN. LINK UP.

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  • Richard Nations