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STATE MEETINGS: Hawaii, West Virginia

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Hawaii Pacific stays virtual for second year

By Karen L. Willoughby

The Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention met virtually Nov. 4-5 on Zoom and Facebook Live for its 79th annual meeting because of ongoing COVID restrictions impacting its widely-scattered region.

Its theme was Rising Together, taken from Colossians 3:1.

“Despite the geographic expanse of the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention [which spreads out on either side of the International Date Line], our churches have embraced a close-knit commitment to working together to be leaders in impacting God’s kingdom throughout the Pacific and Asia,” Executive Director Chris Martin told Baptist Press.

The HPBC is poised to enter into strategic partnerships with multiple state conventions, Martin said.

Business consisted of 205 messengers from at least 50 of HPBC’s 161 churches and church plants passing a $1,796,300 budget for 2022, which is a 24 percent increase from the 2021 budget.

Cooperative Program giving from churches is anticipated to be $1,200,000, plus $130,000 from the Sue Nishikawa State Missions Offering and $175,000 from the North American Mission Board. Again this year, 20 percent of CP funds – $240,000 – is allocated for national and international Southern Baptist missions and ministries.

“We are excited that the churches of the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention not only receive support through the Cooperative Program, but they are also positioned to make a difference through their gifts through CP,” Martin said. “We highly value the relationships across the SBC network, especially in efforts to provide contextualized ministry that will advance God’s kingdom throughout our incredible convention of churches.”

Officers elected at the interactive virtual annual meeting are: President Shane Okimoto, pastor of Waiakea Baptist Bible Church in Hilo; First Vice President Johnny Hom, associate pastor of Nu’uanu Baptist Church on the island of Oahu; Second Vice President Brian Frable, pastor of Kona Baptist Church on Hawaii Island; and recording secretary Grace Poei, a member of University Avenue Baptist Church on the island of Oahu.

In his report to messengers, Martin spoke of three initiative areas – theological, leadership, and missional development – for HPBC churches.

“Your Cooperative Program dollars will fuel the growth of local ministry leaders, the mobilization of local missionaries and the placement of local ministries,” he said. “We will pour into the coming generations to empower pastors, leaders, missionaries, seminary students, lay leadership and more to advance the churches and ministries of every Hawaii Pacific Baptist church.”

A regularly set virtual Pastors Forum, which includes pastors from the Hawaiian Islands, Guam, Samoa, Bangkok, (Thailand) Manila, (Philippines) Japan, and South Korea, was designed to “uphold and sustain a stronger kingdom network of like-minded churches and ministry partners to facilitate God’s kingdom through Hawaii Pacific Baptists,” reported Craig Webb assistant executive director for assist.

Mission projects are being developed for the Philippines, Korea, Japan and New Zealand, plus a vision trip to Taiwan. “We are also working with partners on a strategy for HPBC churches to impact New Zealand,” said Brian Smith, assistant executive director for advance.

Work on rebranding and a new logo for the regional convention are now in use.

At least 100 college students are involved in collegiate ministries on Oahu and Big Island, according to Arjay Gruspe. At least 70 join in Bible study or discipleship, about a dozen in leadership development, and 18 churches are being assisted by collegiate ministries.

The 80th annual meeting is set for Nov. 3-4, 2022, in the Hibiscus Ballroom and Foyer of the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu.

West Virginia partners with Peruvian seminary

By Karen L. Willoughby

TRIDELPHIA, W.Va. (BP) – In its annual meeting Nov. 4-5 at Highlands Events Center, the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists voted to undertake a long-term partnership ultimately with all of Peru, and to increase its out-of-state Cooperative Program giving by one-half percent.

The partnership is to start with the Baptist Theological Seminary in Trujillo, Peru.

“This is the first time in our 51-year history we’ve had an international missions partnership,” Executive Director Eric Ramsey told Baptist Press. “The West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists has matured to a place where it has transitioned from understanding ourselves to be a missions field, to being a missions force. We look forward to being a part of educating and mobilizing Peruvian pastors and missionaries to go throughout Peru and for the first time in their history, send missionaries around the globe.”

West Virginia’s annual meeting, with its theme of “First” and scriptural admonition of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, drew 126 messengers from 60 of its 221 churches, plus 29 visitors.

Business consisted of approving the budget for 2022, electing officers, approving a resolution of appreciations to Upper Ohio Valley Baptist Association, where Charles Morrow is director of missions, for hosting the annual meeting; and the first reading of a proposed amendment to the state convention’s constitution and bylaws, outlining the process for the search and selection of an executive director.

“The best time to make policy changes is when you don’t need to,” said Ramsey, who is in his third year as executive director.

Messengers also passed a motion for the state convention’s executive board to examine its policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct.

A 2022 budget passed: $1,601,498 in income is anticipated, including $100,000 from the North American Mission Board, with 93 percent – $584,345 – of the budget coming from churches’ Cooperative Program and state missions offering giving. West Virginia Southern Baptists increased by one half of one point the CP percentage sent outside the state for national and international Southern Baptist missions and ministries.

“The plan is to go to a 50/50 split,” Ramsey said. In 2022 the split will be 58 percent staying in-state and 42 percent – $584,345 – sent out of state.

“The Cooperative Program remains the best missions funding mechanism on the planet,” Ramsey said. “It’s amazing that a state convention the size of West Virginia can be a part of such a huge global missions enterprise.”

New officers include President Aaron Sligar, pastor of Living River Chapel in Sutton; First Vice President Jason Spade, pastor of First Baptist Church in Princeton; Second Vice President Ryan Navy, pastor of River Valley Church in Huntington; and Recording Secretary Jonathan Eubank, pastor of Witcher Baptist Church in Belle.

All of West Virginia’s 18 churches still in the planting stage since 2016 are still meeting, state leaders reported, with an average of 12.5 people baptized each year by each of the plants. In all, West Virginia baptized 205 people in 2020, as reported in their ACP reports.

“It was the best, most peaceful, most celebratory state convention annual meeting I’ve ever been a part of,” Ramsey said. “There was incredible preaching, incredible time of worship and people were thrilled to meet in person once again.”

The next annual meeting of the West Virginia Southern Baptist Convention is set for Nov. 3-4, 2022, at Immanuel Baptist Church in Princeton.


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