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STATE ANNUAL MEETINGS: Alaska, Dakotas, Montana

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Alaska celebrates covenant with Alabama

NORTH POLE, Alaska – The 76th annual meeting of the Alaska Baptist Resource Network met Sept. 28-29 at First Baptist Church in North Pole with a theme of “Stand Firm and you will Win Life” based on Luke 21:19.

Randy Covington (far right) is executive director of the Alaska Baptist Resource Network. He is joined by new convention President Tom Hoffman, First Vice President Rob Scott, Second Vice President Keith Longo, and Recording Secretary Jody Winquist.

“It was a great convention,” Executive Director Randy Covington said. “We had great fellowship, no controversy, a lot of unity. It was a very positive, very uplifting meeting.”

A total of 145 people (including 39 guests) from 39 of Alaska’s 110 churches were present, including 14 online. Covington expressed his appreciation for First Baptist North Pole’s “amazing job” of hosting, and for the seven-person ManCave Ministries team from North and South Carolina who handled kitchen duties again this year.

The 2022 budget was approved at $881,555, down $4,513 from 2021 because of benefit cost savings. The budget reflects a 20/80 split in churches’ Cooperative Program giving, with $148,338 allocated for Southern Baptist national and international entities.

During a business session, messengers approved a motion to continue for the next year dialogue with the North American Mission Board about its partnership with Alaska Southern Baptists. To that end, a NAMB Summit gathering in Anchorage in May of this year resulted in 12 new church plant target areas.

The 2021 slate of officers all were re-elected to a second one-year term; President Tom Hoffman, pastor of Fairview Loop Baptist Church in Wasilla; First Vice President Robert Scott, pastor of Dillingham Bible Fellowship in Dillingham; Second Vice President Keith Longo, pastor of First Baptist Church in Soldotna; and Recording Secretary Jody Winquist, member at First Baptist Church of Anchorage.

Alaska Baptists also celebrated the formalization last May of the longtime informal partnership between Alaska and Alabama state conventions. Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, was among those from the Southern state on hand to promote the newly defined covenant relationship.

Southern Baptists in both states have strengths to share with the other state, Covington said.

“It gives each of us an opportunity to share how we do ministry,” Covington said. “Alabama Baptists can see how missions is done in pioneer settings, going into communities – especially Native communities – that have never had a Gospel witness.”

Alaska’s next annual meeting is set for Sept. 27-28, 2022, at Glacier Valley Baptist Church in Juneau.

Dakota becomes self-sustaining convention

MANDAN, N.D. – Messengers to the Dakota Baptist Convention’s annual meeting celebrated their plan to be a “state convention that is decreasingly dependent, increasingly independent, but always cooperating” Oct. 7-8 at the Baymont Inn in Mandan.

New Dakota convention officers

In all, 81 messengers and 19 guests attended the annual meeting from the convention’s 85 churches. Attendees gathered under a theme of “Willing and Working Together for Him” – Philippians 2:13 – for the group’s 38th annual meeting.

“This is the first operating budget in our history – originally the Northern Plains Baptist Convention, then the Dakota Southern Baptist Fellowship, and now Dakota Baptist Convention – that is fully funded by the churches of the Dakota Baptist Convention,” Executive Director Fred MacDonald told Baptist Press. “It was an historical moment that created a great moment of celebration.”

The 2022 budget, set at $482,924, anticipates $428,400 in Cooperative Program giving from Dakota Baptist churches. Of that, 25 percent – $107,100 – again this year will be passed on to national and international Southern Baptist causes.

Jeffrey Mueller, pastor of Restore Church in Yankton, S.D., was elected president. Josh Brown, pastor of Redeeming Grace Church in Rapid City, S.D., was elected vice-president.

“This was a second historical moment for the meeting,” MacDonald said. “Someone pointed out to me that this is the first time both our president and vice-president are native Dakotans, pastoring in their hometowns. They are also both church planters, another first.”

Also elected: Karen Holmes, pastor’s wife at First Baptist Church in Wolsey, S.D., as recording secretary; Debbie Flowers, pastor’s wife at Living Hope Baptist Church in Fargo, N.D., as assistant recording secretary.

The Executive Board created a task force in March to “look ahead at our work as a convention” and to “develop a plan to guide our cooperative efforts,” MacDonald said.

“I am excited about what God is going to do in, through and around Dakota Baptists as we move forward as a network of Great Commission churches that partner together to strengthen established churches and start new churches,” he said.

With the new budget, the annual Baker Mission Offering income as of 2022 will be folded into state convention operating funds rather than specific allocations. A new ministry plan developed by the Dakota Vision 2025 Task Force was also introduced.

Messengers approved three resolutions:

  • Expressing appreciation “for all of our sister Dakota Baptist Convention churches in Mandan and [nearby] Bismarck, North Dakota,” area of the annual meeting
  • Expressing appreciation “for all the organizations that have in the past assisted” the DBC, “and to the churches for completely funding” the DBC operating budget.
  • Messengers’ commitment to pray for political and spiritual leaders, and to encourage others to do so as well, “that God will pour out His spirit on us … producing true revival.”

The next annual meeting of the Dakota Baptist Convention is set for Oct. 6-7, 2022, with the location to be determined.

Montana’s college moves to Kalispell

MISSOULA, Mont. – Montana Southern Baptists at their Oct. 7-8 state convention annual meeting celebrated their college’s move to Kalispell, Mont., and the first anniversary of their seven-year partnership with the Missouri Baptist Convention.

MTSBC President KJ Ellington prays for new officers Greg Payton on his right and Randall and Becky Jackson on his left.

About 125 people from 43 of Montana’s 135 churches gathered under the theme of “Refresh,” with 2 Corinthians 1:3 as the theme verse, for the annual meeting at the Church at the Gates in Missoula, where Mark Pritchard is pastor.

“The fellowship was sweet,” MTSBC Executive Director Barrett Duke told Baptist Press. “The pastors and other leaders came to do the Lord’s business in the Spirit of the Lord.”

A $1,019,320 budget was passed for 2022, up slightly from the $899,100 austere budget of 2021 that reflected concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, which didn’t hurt Montana churches as much as had been forecast.

Of the $788,820 anticipated by churches in 2022 Cooperative Program giving, $197,205, or 25 percent – unchanged for the ninth year – is allocated for national and global Southern Baptist causes.

“The Cooperative Program is the cooperative lifeline for our churches,” Duke said. “If we did not have the Cooperative Program we would not be nearly as effective as a convention of churches reaching Montana and the world for Christ.”

The North American Mission Board’s contribution of $160,000 to Montana’s 2022 budget is joined for the first time by a $20,000 line item in the budget for church planting.

“I am very happy to report that we have just reached an agreement with NAMB,” Duke said. “For the next five years NAMB will provide $150,000 worth of annual support for evangelism in our state. We will continue to look to NAMB for significant assistance with our church planting needs, but NAMB’s resources are being pulled in many directions these days, and we want to make sure that we have financial skin in this ministry too. With $90,000 in designated church-planting funds and [the $20,000 line item for church planting] we are making a good step toward taking more responsibility for reaching our state.”

Other highlights:

  • Emmanuel Baptist Church in Billings has started the first Hispanic church plant in Montana.
  • Yellowstone Christian College has entered a reciprocal agreement with Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency, on the Crow Indian Reservation east of Billings.
  • The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention gifted MTSBC with $100,000 to help with YCC’s summer expenses.

Messengers to Montana’s annual meeting elected Greg Payton, pastor of The Rock Church in Laurel, as president of the state convention, and Randall Jackson, pastor of Choteau (Montana) Baptist Church, as vice president. The executive director’s wife, Denise Duke, volunteers as MTSBC’s secretary.

Messengers also approved the following trustees to serve a three years term at Yellowstone Christian College:

  • Paige Patterson, FBC Dallas, TX
  • Ronnie Rogers, Trinity Baptist, Norman, Okla.
  • Bruce Speer, Crosspoint Community, Missoula, Mont.
  • Luke Taylor, Veneration Church, Kalispell, Mont.

No resolutions or other business were enacted. Fellowship was strong between Montana pastors and the Missouri Baptist Convention pastors and leaders, as together they celebrated the first year of a seven-year partnership.

The annual meeting also celebrated the move of its state convention-owned Yellowstone Christian College from its 13-acre property on the fast-growing west side of Billings to a 563-acre site in Kalispell, near Glacier National Park. Classes started there this August.

The next annual meeting of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention is set for October 6-7 at Elevation Church in Billings.

Editor’s Note: Baptist Press received information on the Yellowstone Christian College trustees after the story was originally published.