Michigan announces search for high-energy leader
By Karen L. Willoughby
PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Change is afoot at the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.
At least 222 people were present on Nov. 3 for Michigan’s 66th annual gathering at Mile City Church in Plymouth under the theme: “Focus: Starting, Strengthening, Centered on Christ.”
The total included 36 guests and 186 messengers from 70 of the state’s 292 Southern Baptist churches.
“Some things should never change,” Executive Director Tim Patterson told messengers. “The Gospel has been and will forever be the Gospel. Steadfast, immovable and eternal. Yet, certain changes are needed and an essential part of a believer’s life and the life of the church.”
One of those changes involves Patterson personally. Now 70, he plans to retire by the end of 2024.
“We have prepared our state for the next leader God calls to the helm,” Patterson said. “Many of our churches that are growing and impacting their communities and this state are led by young pastors and are most likely new church plants. We need a new leadership that can identify well with these and our established churches and help them all take their next step to accelerate Gospel movement.”
High on his list of priorities, however, is leading Michigan as close as possible to a 50/50 split in Cooperative Program giving between in-state and global SBC causes. In 2024, for the second year, it is to remain at 35 percent leaving Michigan, because of continuing financial strain due to Bambi Lake Baptist Retreat and Conference Center, according to an article in the Michigan’s state newspaper, the Baptist Beacon.
Other changes were an update to the convention’s bylaws and a postponement of the sale of Bambi Lake.
The bylaws were changed to streamline and make the organization more efficient and effective. Rather than multiple separate meetings, the BSCM officers, immediate past president, and nine trustees will now work together to accomplish the work of the convention between annual meetings.
“When I came here, it was not a good system; it did not function very well,” Patterson told Baptist Press. “This is a very simple structure. Officers and trustees will still oversee the actions of the state convention.”
Bambi Lake, the rustic state camp in rural northern Michigan that has been loved and used for more than 60 years, like so many Baptist camps across the nation, has been losing attendance and support from churches over the last 10 or more years.
The state convention has spent $1.5 million in maintenance and support on the state convention-owned camp over the last five years.
There was a motion presented by the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees to the messengers at the annual meeting to sell the camp to another Christian youth camp who would still allow the BSCM to have their own camps and retreats.
Patterson explained, “After much discussion, we voted to create a new 501c3 [nonprofit organization] so Bambi Lake has its own budget. For the next three years the BSCM will support it up to $100,000 a year. If in three years it’s not financially viable, then we’ll bring it up for sale again.”
In addition to hearing reports from SBC entity leaders and Michigan state convention staff, messengers approved a $2,454,701 budget for 2024. Of that total, $1,335,600 is anticipated to come from Michigan churches, of which $455,000 is to be forwarded for the SBC’s national and global mission causes. The budget includes up to $187,000 from the North American Mission Board for church planting and evangelism initiatives.
The entire slate of 2023 officers was re-elected to a second, one-year term: President Ed Emmerling, pastor of Westside Church in Flushing; First Vice President Ray Ruffin, pastor of New Found Hope Community Church in Redford; Second Vice President Josh Tovey, pastor of Redemption Church in Grandville; Recording Secretary Jerome Taylor, pastor of Eastgate Church in Burton; and Assistant Recording Secretary Michele White, member at Middlebelt Church in Inkster.
“The issue of selling the camp was emotional, but we came out of it on the other side unified and with a good decision,” Patterson said. “It was a very intense, very busy meeting but a good meeting.
“We have a great amount of work to do this next year,” Patterson continued. “There are millions of people in Michigan who do not know Jesus and it is our purpose and passion to change that. Together, Michigan Baptists will continue to punch holes in the darkness here in our state and beyond.”
The next annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan is set for Nov. 1, 2024, at Cedar Street Church in Holt.
Wyoming meets for 40th annual meeting
By Karen L. Willoughby
CASPER, Wyo. – The Wyoming Southern Baptist Mission Network celebrated its changing of the guard during the state convention’s recent annual meeting.
The Nov. 9-10 event took place at Boyd Avenue Baptist Church in Casper, with a theme of “Shining Together” from Philippians 2:14-16. At least 225 people were present, including 112 guests and 113 messengers from 43 of Wyoming’s 95 churches.
“It was a great meeting,” State Missionary (Executive Director) Rondie Taylor told Baptist Press. “We have a tremendous spirit of unity and excitement as we celebrate what God has done in the past and look expectantly to what He’s going to be doing in, with and through Wyoming Southern Baptists in the future.”
It was Wyoming’s 40th annual meeting, and Taylor’s first as executive director, though he’s been in the state for seven years, planting Living Hope Church in Green River, southwest Wyoming.
Taylor’s first day was Sept. 1. Dec. 31 is to be the last day for outgoing State Missionary Quin Williams, who will be finishing his fifth year, though previously he was pastor of Casper’s Boyd Avenue Baptist Church for not quite 23 years.
“Those of you who know Rondie, know that our future as a network is indeed bright,” Williams told messengers about Taylor in Williams’ final report as Wyoming’s state missionary. “He is an outstanding leader with the calling, gifts and skills to lead us into a future in which we will be more effective in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
Ed Tharp, pastor of Boyd Avenue Baptist Church and 2024 president of Wyoming’s Mission Network, was one of several to heap high praise on Williams.
“I am so thankful for Quin Williams and the many years he invested in our state,” Tharp told messengers. “As he retires at the end of this year, he will leave a legacy of commitment and faithfulness.
“Rondie Taylor will do an excellent job of leading us into the future,” Tharp continued. “Both of these men have been a tremendous blessing, and we should count it as a blessing to have them serve in our state.”
John Thomason and his wife Eleanor also were honored at Wyoming’s 40th annual gathering. He was called in 1982 from a staff position with the Northern Plains Baptist Convention when Wyoming Southern Baptist churches voted to pull out from the oversized NPBC and establish a Wyoming convention. Thomason organized the fledgling state convention in 1983 and stayed for 20 years at its helm.
Janice Trotter was recognized for the 25 years she has contracted with the Network as its bookkeeper; Don Whalen for 20 years, currently serving as Wyoming’s church planting strategist; and Fred Creason also for 20 years. He is Northeast Wyoming’s regional missionary, and director of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Center for Leadership Development.
Worship was led by the Boyd Avenue praise band. Tharp brought the president’s sermon. Reports were given by representatives of several SBC entities, from four executive board committees and from 11 leaders in 10 of Wyoming’s ministry areas: executive board, collegiate ministries, church planting, Northeast, West and South regions, Mountain Top Assembly, seminary, Church Leadership Development, and from the outgoing and incoming state missionaries.
Business consisted of passage of one recommendation, the budget and election of officers.
The recommendation was to delete in its entirety Bylaw 5, Section 4.
The effect of this change would be the dissolution of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention Foundation. The assets of the Foundation would be taken over by the Network, according to the Executive Board’s recommendation.
Messengers approved a 2024 budget of $949,500, down from $968,090 in 2023 and $1,012,500 in 2022. This includes $410,000 anticipated from churches in Cooperative Program giving in 2024, down from $413,352 in 2023.
Additional income is to include up to $210,000 from the North American Mission Board for evangelism and church planting, $186,000 from regional missional funding, and $105,000 from the state mission offering.
Again this year, 10 percent of churches’ Cooperative Program giving – $41,000 – is to be forwarded to the SBC Executive Committee for global missions and ministries.
Tharp was elected president. Dave Brown, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Rock Springs was elected first vice president. Bill Harvison, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Powell was elected second vice president. Dawn Kenny, member at Mountain View Baptist Church in Mills, was elected recording secretary. Patty Marsh, member at Hilltop Baptist Church in Casper, was elected assistant recording secretary.
“I really believe in the Wyoming Southern Baptist Mission Network,” Taylor told Baptist Press. “The support of other pastors here is great. I see the benefit of the Network in my life and for my family as well.
“Wyoming pastors and our regional missionaries together help see the Gospel spread across Wyoming and beyond,” Taylor continued. That was my heart. I believe we do that better when we work together.”
The 2024 annual meeting of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Mission Network is to take place in November in Casper.