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STATE MEETINGS: Alaska, New York


Messengers approve Alaska/NAMB agreement

By Karen L. Willoughby 

JUNEAU, Alaska (BP) – The Alaska Baptist Resource Network and North American Mission Board have agreed on three shared initiatives.

President Robert Scott, pastor of Dillingham Bible Fellowship; Philip Coleman, pastor of True North Church in Anchorage, first vice president; Willie Tauanu’u, pastor of University Baptist Church in Anchorage, second vice president. Cathy Arns, a member at First Baptist Church in Anchorage, recording secretary. 

Messengers to the 77th annual meeting of the Alaska Baptist Resource Network (Alaska Baptist Convention) Sept. 27-28 voted to approve what the two entities had agreed to do.

“This is in response to the motions of the last two years,” Executive Director Randy Covington told Baptist Press. “Our relationship with NAMB has been improving.”

A motion had been made at the 2020 annual meeting by Alaska’s retired executive director, Mike Procter, to in 2022 begin re-directing “the percentage of Cooperative Program funds that traditionally were intended for the North American Mission Board, … be retained” for the state missions offering, … “until such time as there is a collaborative, cooperative and mutually agreed-upon strategy with the North American Mission Board.”

The motion passed with all but about a few voice votes, Covington said in Baptist Press’ 2020 annual meeting report on Alaska’s annual meeting. Last year, messengers approved a motion to continue dialogue with NAMB about its partnership with Alaska Southern Baptists.

The three “shared initiatives:”

  • NAMB will recruit GenSend-age students for summer missions in Alaska;
  • Alaska will work with NAMB’s Send Replant program under the direction of its director, Mark Clifton; and
  • NAMB and Alaska will focus on church revitalization as well as church planting, establishing church planting residencies and church-based revitalization residencies, “preparing Alaska pastors to lead in revitalizations,” Covington said.

The motion passed with an overwhelming majority, the executive director said.

With its theme – Firmly Planted – and Colossians 2:6-7 Scripture, Alaska’s 77th annual meeting drew 85 in-person messengers and 15 more “in the gallery,” participating via Zoom. Fifteen guests also were counted.

“Juneau is not on the road system,” Covington said. “The only ways to get there are airplane and ferry. It’s not an easy journey.”

He added that he was gratified by the attendance despite the travel difficulties and pleased with the host church’s handling of the event.

“Glacier Valley, currently in revitalization, did a great job of hosting a convention for 115 people when their membership is 35,” Covington said. “The revitalization pastor, Trenton Cooper [from Arkadelphia, Ark.] has only been there for four months, and I was very impressed. He said it was his first-ever convention meeting.”

South Carolina has had an informal partnership with Alaska for at least a dozen years. Again this year a team of nine, which also included some from North Carolina, prepared all meals and snacks for the two-day gathering. Gary Hollingsworth, South Carolina Baptist Convention’s executive director, was a featured speaker Tuesday evening.

The Alaska state convention’s business took up one three-hour session. In addition to reports from in-state and national Southern Baptist entities and the motion related to NAMB, two announcements were made. A resolution on abortion was not submitted on time and discussion on the subject was tabled until next year. One messenger suggested that all churches affiliated with the Alaska Baptist Convention (ABRN) adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

The state convention maintained an 80/20 percentage split in its Cooperative Program receipts, with $152,517 anticipated in 2023. This is up $4,893 from the current year.

“Over the next three years, we want to see our Cooperative Program gifts increase 10 percent each year, for a 30 percent increase by 2025, leading to the celebration of the Cooperative Program’s 100th anniversary,” Covington said. 

“We experience firsthand the importance of the Cooperative Program. Alaska is one of the hardest and most expensive places to live and do ministry. The cost of living is one of the highest in the nation, and travel is prohibitive. It costs more to travel roundtrip from Anchorage to Kotzebue, Alaska, than it does from Anchorage to Orlando.”

Alaska’s 2023 budget of $895,271 passed unanimously, an increase of $24,461 from last year. In addition, a request for up to $311,000 from NAMB was made, to be reimbursed as needed for evangelism and church planting.

Robert Scott, pastor of Dillingham Bible Fellowship, was elected president. Philip Coleman, pastor of True North Church in Anchorage, was elected first vice president. Willie Tauanu’u, pastor of University Baptist Church in Anchorage, was elected second vice president. Cathy Arns, a member at First Baptist Church in Anchorage, was elected recording secretary. 

The 78th annual meeting of the Alaska Baptist Resource Network is to take place Sept. 26-27, 2023, at Fairview Loop Baptist Church in Wasilla.

New York Baptists ‘Rejoice, Regather, Recommit’

By Karen L. Willoughby

CICERO, New York (BP) – A sense of celebration permeated the 53rd annual meeting of the New York Baptist Convention Sept. 23-24 at Drivers Village Conference Center. 

The festive atmosphere came from fellowshipping with others who likewise were thinking the pandemic may be history; listening to what God is doing in the five states informally known as the “northeast network of churches;” and enjoying the two-day presence of Interim SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Willie McLaurin. 

In 2019 the regional convention voted as part of its restructuring into three teams to make “Celebrate” the overarching theme of each annual meeting, Executive Director Terry Robertson told Baptist Press.

This year’s theme included “Rejoice, Regather, Recommit” as part of the theme, and “We are better together” as its tagline. The Scripture: Philippians 4:4-5. Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

“Each gathering is to be a time to celebrate,” Robertson said. “We are to celebrate God all day every day, to revel in Him. I think all through the day Saturday we were indeed celebrating.”

McLaurin attended the Friday evening session and fellowship afterward. He preached on “We are better together” Saturday. Churches’ greatest challenge, he added, is prayerlessness.

Robertson, in his executive director’s report, spoke of rejoicing, relationships, remembering, regathering and recommitting.

Other speakers included David Jackson from NAMB, who also led a workshop on church revitalization; J.J. Washington from NAMB, who also led a workshop on evangelism; and BCNY President Steve Charles. Eric Napoli led worship. Napoli co-pastors Amherst (New York) Baptist Church, and is a church planter for Sheridan Parkside Community Church in Tonawanda, New York.

Messengers from 41 of BCNY’s 516 churches were present, for a total of 72 including guests Friday evening, and 76 on Saturday.

The 2023 budget passed unanimously: $765,000, including $6,000 in interest income, with $227,700 passing through as BCNY’s World Missions offering for global Cooperative Program giving, down an anticipated $2,000 from last year. The numbers reflect a 30/70 percent Cooperative Program split, unchanged from last year.

“Our churches’ Cooperative Program giving continues to trend just a bit low for us, down two years in a row,” Robertson said. “The Cooperative Program is such a part of who we are. Considering all the difficulties COVID has caused for our churches, we feel blessed that Cooperative Program giving has held up as much as it has.” 

BCNY officers were all reelected by acclamation: Steve Charles as president, who is pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church, Canandaigua, N.Y, recently renamed Pathway Community Church. Vice President Gale Dingwell is pastor of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in New Windsor, N.Y. Recording Secretary John DePugh is pastor of Newark Baptist Fellowship Church in Newark, N.Y. Assistant Recording Secretary Daniel Lee is pastor of Compass Fellowship Church in New York City.

The only other business was a bylaw change, adding a fifth person to the executive team.

“It addresses the restructuring we did a year ago,” Robertson said. “We’re just trying to make sure we have a way of continuity from one year to the next.”

Word of what God is doing in the northeast network of churches spread through conversations and through reports during the annual meeting.

Asian and Haitian church plants. A Nepali congregation ministering to Afghan refugees. Double-digit baptisms. And many more.

“The Network is off to a good start in creating a means for every leader and organization [in BCNY] to receive assistance in solving ministry challenges and to work collaboratively with others,” Robertson said. “By working together we can accomplish our Kingdom purpose.”

BCNY’s 2023 annual meeting is set for Sept. 22-23 at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Windsor, N.Y.

    About the Author

  • Karen Willoughby