DRAPER, Utah (BP)–The Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention is seeking a new executive director-treasurer who is prayerful about God’s leading to a missions frontier and who will understand the culture of the West.
“We’d like to hear from an individual who is really praying that this might be what God would want from him. The Utah-Idaho convention is an exciting place to do ministry,” Paul Thompson, president of the convention and pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho, told Baptist Press.
The Utah-Idaho region offers great appeal for an outdoorsman who enjoys mountains and wide open spaces, Thompson said, but it’s important for a potential executive director to be aware of the physical rigors of ministering to churches within such a broad geographic perimeter.
“Utah and Idaho’s Southern Baptist Convention goes from the southern tip of Utah to the northern tip of Idaho, so it’s a large physical span of space — basically from the Canadian border to the Utah-Arizona border,” Thompson, who is on the search committee, said. “Travel would be a big part of what this person will do.”
Though the convention includes some metropolitan areas around Salt Lake City and Boise, most of the churches are in rural settings, he added. Also, a person open to being the convention’s executive director would need to have a heart for Mormons.
“Mormonism is influential in both states,” Thompson said. “As a matter of fact, the town I live in, Twin Falls, Idaho, has a new Mormon temple under construction right now. A knowledge of Mormonism and a love for the Mormon people is going to be important. But we’ve also learned that there are a lot of people in our area that don’t go to any kind of church.”
Some of the challenges of the job, especially for a person who would come from the East, could include a sort of culture shock.
“I think you’d find just about any place in the West that it can be really lonely sometimes, especially if they don’t have extended family that live out here,” Thompson said. “They’ll have some lonely times if they uproot their family and leave their family. I think they would also discover that people in the West are not necessarily real interested in church. They’ve got a lot to do on Sundays.”
But there are lots of positives too, Thompson said.
“There are good people in the churches in the Utah-Idaho convention that love the Lord and love missions,” he said.
One particular event the convention is anticipating is the Special Olympics World Winter Games to be held in Boise next February. The games are expected to attract up to 3,000 athletes from more than 85 nations to compete in seven Olympic-type sports, and Utah-Idaho Southern Baptists surely will be on hand to share their faith.
“We were very active in the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, so I anticipate there will be some type of involvement and engagement as the world comes for the Special Olympics in Boise,” Thompson said.
The executive director, while he would interact with churches, would mainly be in charge of leading the convention staff which includes eight people now and two vacancies.
He also would help manage the convention’s $2.4 million budget and provide resources for the 11 local Baptist associations and 150-plus churches and missions. A job description is posted on the convention website at www.uisbc.org.
The Utah-Idaho convention was organized in 1964 with 52 congregations, and today it includes nine different language and ethnic groups, according to the website. The convention shares a missions partnership with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
The first Southern Baptist work in the area started on Christmas Day of 1887 in what is now known as Clearwater, Idaho, and the first Southern Baptist church in Utah was organized in 1944 in Roosevelt. Both churches still exist.
Resumes for the executive director position are welcome through April 1 and should be mailed to Paul Thompson c/o Eastside Baptist Church, 204 Eastland Drive North, Twin Falls, Idaho 83301.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.