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Utah-Idaho Baptists aim to double churches

SALT LAKE CITY (BP) — Utah-Idaho Southern Baptists focused on extending their reach in line with the 2020 Vision of sharing Christ and starting and strengthening churches during their 48th annual meeting in Salt Lake City last month.

Messengers unanimously approved the 2020 Vision report encouraging doubling the number of churches to 300 and reaching 1 percent of the population in the two states by the end of 2020. The 2020 Vision team led by Utah-Idaho convention president Kirk Baker will continue its work on aligning the state convention with the new vision statement and report its progress next year.

The overall 2013 budget of $1,980,813 is 5 percent less than the 2012 amount of $2,085,317, and includes $1,049,900 from the North American Mission Board, $60,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources and $96,176 from the state missions offering.

In 2013 Cooperative Program contributions from Utah-Idaho churches, $774,737 is budgeted, which is $52,240, or 6.3 percent, less than the 2012 CP budget. Utah-Idaho Baptists will utilize $581,053 of CP gifts for state missions and ministries and forward $193,684 for SBC causes, continuing a 75-25 percent UISBC-SBC allocation that does not entail any shared expenses between the two conventions.

With the theme “Leading from our Knees,” drawn from Ephesians 3:14-19, the meeting included a strong emphasis on prayer. The Oct. 23-24 sessions at Canyons Church included 128 messengers representing 47 churches.

Guest preacher Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas, encouraged messengers in evangelism and discipleship, asking them to pray for laborers.

Messengers re-elected Baker, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to a second term as president. Other officers, all unopposed, are first vice president Clint Henry, pastor of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho; second vice president Russ Robinson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Provo, Utah; and recording secretary Arie Sparkman, wife of pastor Ray Sparkman of Desert Streams Fellowship in Kuna, Idaho.

Utah-Idaho recognized several individuals upon retirement or tenure milestones: Dan Walker, retiring after 15 years as jointly appointed missionary to associational work/church planting; Eric Frye, retiring after 10 years as state convention cross-cultural/multiethnic chaplaincy consultant; Don Hayhurst, retiring after eight years as jointly appointed missionary to associational director of missions/church planter catalysts; and Judy Baker, retiring after eight years as executive assistant.

Business services director Bill Pepper was recognized for 10 years of state convention service.

Brad Bessent, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Hopkins, S.C., told messengers how the small church he leads has adopted an unengaged people group and has seen God plant indigenous churches in an area without a Christian witness.

“No matter how small your church is, God can provide the resources to reach an unengaged, unreached people group,” Bessent said, speaking during a missions banquet co-sponsored by the International Mission Board and the state convention. He contrasted Beulah’s membership of 200 with that of a 10,000-member church that deemed itself lacking resources to reach the people group.

At the pastors’ conference preceding the annual meeting, speakers included Steve Ruth of Calvary Baptist Church in Weiser, Idaho; church planter Ryan Booth of Price, Utah; Harold Fields of Unity Baptist Church in Salt Lake City; Kevin Carpenter of Hope Baptist Church in Nezperce, Idaho; and Baikkung Fnu of Southern Chin Christian Church in Salt Lake City.

Messengers scheduled next year’s annual meeting for Oct. 22-23 at Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Compiled by Rob Lee, executive director and treasurer of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention.

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