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STATE MEETINGS: Nevada; Kansas-Nebraska


Nevada sets renewed focus on discipleship

By Karen L. Willoughby

RENO, Nevada (BP) – The messengers to the 43rd annual meeting of the Nevada Baptist Convention were met with a strong emphasis on unity and a powerful call toward evangelism, discipleship and church planting.

Messengers learned the new state convention offices in Las Vegas should be ready for occupancy by early November; that Nevada Baptists have entered into a formal partnership with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention; and that the state has been working toward a state-wide church planting strategy and is announcing “Send Nevada.”

Tim Royal (right), pastor of The Bridge Church in Spring Creek, Nevada, was re-elected president. Steve Witt, pastor of The Well Church in Henderson, was re-elected vice-president.

The annual meeting drew 92 messengers from 40 of Nevada’s now 182 churches (two new this year) and about 60 guests to Life Church in Reno Oct. 17-18, where the theme was Shine so that He may be glorified, based on Matthew 5:16. 

“Shining requires that we take our faith seriously,” Executive Director Damian Cirincione told messengers. “Our purpose in shining is to proclaim the praises of God. As Christians, we are responsible to light up the world as we are carriers and reflectors of the light of Christ.”

Cirincione stressed the importance of unity between churches throughout Nevada, highlighting the growing relationship between the state’s three associations.

The executive director expressed his excitement for the state’s recently announced partnership with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

“A huge win for our convention in 2022 was beginning a partnership with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention,” Cirincione told messengers. “Together we are committed to creating a culture of disciple-making in our churches, and we believe this partnership will help us better equip Nevada pastors and churches for the work of evangelism and discipleship.”

The two-way partnership is to last at least three years.

One of the meeting’s highlights was the announcement of the new state-wide emphasis on church planting created in partnership with the Send Network. 

“When it comes to church planting, the Nevada Baptist Convention will now work with [the North American Mission Board’s] Send Network to have a church planting strategy for the entire state,” Cirincione said. Nevada churches started three new church plants this year, and have four more “in the pipeline,” he added.

Cirincione told Baptist Press his vision is “to create a culture of church planting that results in Nevada church planters being developed in Nevada churches. This will be a natural result of a greater discipleship focus in our churches.

“Nevada is the fifth fastest-growing state in the nation and the third most diverse,” Cirincione said. “With over 100 countries represented and over 200 languages spoken here we have an opportunity to bring the gospel to the nations in our own backyard.”

Cirincione spoke of the addition to his staff this summer of Bradley Linkins as Associate Director, with an emphasis on discipleship. “Bradley has been meeting with pastors, developing discipleship strategies for churches and has brought on a level of expertise, fun and diversity to our staff,” the executive director told messengers.

Messengers passed a $1,477,300 budget for 2023, up $293,000 from the proposed 2022 budget. This includes an anticipated $1,184,300 in churches’ Cooperative Program giving, up from an anticipated $832,477 in 2022. Nevada sends 50 percent – $592,150 in 2023 – to the SBC Executive Committee for disbursement according to percentages approved by messengers to the SBC annual meeting last June. 

Tim Royal, pastor of The Bridge Church in Spring Creek, Nev., was re-elected president. Steve Witt, pastor of The Well Church in Henderson, was re-elected vice-president.

Nevada Baptists also learned about the sale of their Reno office space earlier this year and the purchase of a new one in Las Vegas. The new space is currently being retrofitted into five offices, conference/multipurpose room and resource area. It passed all inspections in September but occupancy will not begin until final permitting.

“If all goes well, we will move into the new office in November,” Cirincione said. “We are anxious to have a space where we can plan, hope, dream and implement new endeavors to reach our state for the sake of Jesus.”

Two resolutions were approved by messengers. The first was in appreciation to Life Church for hosting the annual meeting. The second:

“Whereas, our culture is woefully running towards unimaginable sin. Whereas, the order of God’s creation is being turned upside down, Whereas, our culture places no limits on depravity, Whereas, our culture will demand the church to follow, Therefore … Resolved that the Nevada Baptist Convention will stand in the gap between worldly passions and godly principles as outlined in Scripture.” 

The next annual meeting of the Nevada Baptist Convention is set for Oct. 16-17, 2023, at Green Valley Baptist Church in Henderson, a Las Vegas suburb.

‘Church Forward’ launches new season of ministry for Kansas, Nebraska

By Kevin Ferstl

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (BP) – The 2022 annual meeting of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists was hosted by First Southern Baptist Church of Garden City Oct. 10-11. This year marks a fresh, new season of ministry initiated by the launch of a new brand identity for the state convention – “Church Forward,” which speaks to the focus and heart of all strategic endeavors from the convention.

David Manner, executive director of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, addresses messengers to the group’s annual meeting.

“We wanted a brand identity that doesn’t just say who we are, but also convey what we do,” said David Manner, the convention’s executive director. “The hero of our brand is not the organization; it is our churches and their leaders.”

Kevin Ferstl, director of Communication & Worship for the convention, said Church Forward exists “for the purpose of serving churches, propelling leaders and maximizing partnerships. This identity signifies the value of cooperation and partnership across our nearly 460 churches.”

The meeting drew 238 messengers and 70 visitors, who heard guest speakers Mark Clifton (pastor, First Baptist Church of Linwood, Kan., and senior director of replanting and rural strategy at the North American Mission Board); Mark Cress (lead pastor, First Southern Baptist Church of Liberal, Kan.); and Doyle Pryor (lead pastor, First Southern Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan.). Worship for all main sessions was led by Kevin Ferstl and Metro East Worship (Metro East Baptist Church of Wichita, Kan.).

The 2023 budget was approved in an amount of $4,432,008, a 2.5 percent increase over 2022. The convention’s Cooperative Program allocation, which forwards money to national and international Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministry causes, also increased from 30.5 percent to 31 percent.

Officers elected were President Doyle Pryor, Vice President David Gibbs, Recording Secretary Voyt Lynn, Assistant Recording Secretary Vicki VanMeter, Parliamentarian Sandy Peterson and Historical Secretary Tony Mattia.

The 2023 Church Forward annual meeting will be hosted by Westside Church of Omaha, Neb. October 9-10, 2023.

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