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Utah-Idaho Baptists report numeric & financial gains

MERIDIAN, Idaho (BP) — Key numeric increases — including church plants and baptisms — were celebrated by the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention during their Oct. 20 annual meeting.

A total of 140 people — 109 messengers and 31 guests — gathered at Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho, for the two-state convention’s 53rd annual meeting.

Brian Catherman, pastor of Redeeming Life Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, brought the annual message. He read Ephesians 3:1-14 three times in emphasizing the importance of Utah-Idaho Southern Baptists being “In Him” — the theme of the annual meeting. Thus, Catherman said, “we should take great confidence in all that we do in Him because when we are in Him all we do will be successful.”

UISBC Executive Director Rob Lee said one-day meeting was marked by “a lot of fellowship, great enthusiasm of what God is doing and getting ready to do.”

“Our numbers are the opposite of what we’re seeing nationally,” Lee told Baptist Press. “God’s doing something in Utah and Idaho. We have a whole new set of pastors and leaders who are onsite because of the faithfulness of the pioneers who went before us, who plowed the fields and shared the Gospel.”

The numbers Lee referred to include four new churches accepted into membership, for a total of 194; 46 church plants, up from 23 last year; 657 baptisms, up from 399 last year; surpassing the UISBC budget; and adding another 1 percent-of-budget increase in Cooperative Program giving.

“As a state convention, we have a vision to raise that to 30 percent,” Lee said of the CP increase. “We’ve been more than making budget and sent half the overage — $11,642.45 — for the Cooperative Program’s global causes.

“For us that’s like an additional month,” Lee said. “That’s very exciting.”

Following worship led by Kent Burchyett, associate pastor for worship at Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho, various committee reports were covered in the first business session; various business matters in the second business session. Reports from SBC entities made up the rest of the morning’s agenda.

Election of officers, Catherman’s sermon, special recognitions, staff reports and a resolution thanking Central Valley Baptist Church for its hospitality consumed the afternoon of the meeting.

“I love the way pastors and church leaders in Utah and Idaho lock arms,” Ashley Clayton, SBC Executive Committee vice president for Cooperative Program and stewardship, told UISBC messengers. “Remember this: No matter where God has called you … you are not alone.”

Clayton thanked UISBC churches for the $1.2 million they gave over the last year to missions through the Cooperative Program, Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions, Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions and the state missions offering.

Clayton challenged Utah-Idaho church members — not just pastors — to be involved in Gospel conversations over the next year through which nonbelievers could find a relationship with Jesus. He referred messengers to GCChallenge.com, a Baptist website that has a goal of 1 million people engaging in Gospel conversations by June 2018.

“We baptized last year the same number of people who were baptized in 1948,” Clayton said. The U.S. population then was 146.6 million, he added. Today it’s more than double that: 325.2 million.

Items of business

Messengers approved without discussion a $1,784,229 budget for 2018, up $18,655 from the $1,765,574 budget for 2017. The 2018 budget includes an anticipated $689,229 from Utah-Idaho churches, $940,000 from NAMB, $60,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources and $95,000 from the York-Dillman State Missions Offering.

The Cooperative Program percentage to Southern Baptist national and international missions endeavors was increased from 27 to 28 percent, or $192,984. The remaining 72 percent of CP gifts from churches will be utilized in Utah-Idaho missions and ministries.

Additionally, NAMB returned $2,098 to Utah-Idaho this year for use with church plants. NAMB last year began returning to the state conventions for church planting the amount given the previous year that exceeds the average of the previous three years given through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

Each of the UISBC’s new officers was the sole nominee and elected by acclamation: president, Matt McGukin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls; first vice president, Bryan Catherman; and second vice president, Corey Hodges, pastor of The Point Church in Salt Lake City. Recording secretary Chauna Sidwell, a member at First Baptist Church in Pleasant Grove, Utah, was re-elected unanimously.

Mike Palmer, director of the UISBC’s Church Planting Network and pastor of Salmon Valley (Idaho) Baptist Church and Lemhi River Cowboy Church in Tendoy, Idaho, reported to messengers, “Our church plants baptized 141 and average 1,580 in worship the first nine months of this year.” Of the 46 church plants in the convention, 28 are funded by NAMB, Palmer reported.

“We are the largest, most well-funded church planting organization in Utah and Idaho,” Palmer said. “No one is doing more than Utah-Idaho Southern Baptists to plant churches.”

Palmer referred to Jesus’ words in Luke 12:48 about those who have been “given much,” noting, “We have been given a great responsibility. … There’s no such thing as a church too small to pray.

“How about you pray your way home? Pray for the communities you pass, for the people you see when you stop for gas,” Palmer said.

Lee did not bring a spoken executive director’s report because of time constraints related to the one-day gathering, but it was printed in the UISBC’s Book of Reports.

Gary McKean was honored for his service volunteering for 10 years as missions and partnerships coordinator, which included the retired attorney’s legal expertise.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to him,” Lee said. “Gary has saved our convention thousands.”

The 2018 annual meeting of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention is set for Oct. 19 at The Point Church in Salt Lake City.