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Utah/Idaho, debt-free, readies for ’98 SBC

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (BP)–Celebration, praise, preparation embodied the 33rd annual meeting of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention Nov. 11-12 at Calvary Baptist Church, Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Response to Executive Director Jim Harding’s news that the convention is completely debt-free set the tone for the sessions. Thunderous applause, shouts of “amen” and a standing ovation continued for several minutes after his announcement.
As recently as three years ago, the convention owed approximately $300,000. Harding cited an increase in giving, a realignment of the budget and a thrifty staff as factors in the good news.
“We have worked hard to trim costs and be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us,” he said.
Defeating the debt monster was only a part of the cause for celebration in 1997. Launching of the convention’s long-range plan began in January and continues even now, Harding said. Technology is in place for consultants to home office. Restructuring to teams led by consultants is complete. By the end of the year, the convention will move to a brand-new building paid for with proceeds from the sale of the old building, so there is no new indebtedness.
Shifting the focus to 1998 and the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Salt Lake City in June, Harding spoke of the need to be prepared for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “Through God’s divine intervention, we have the chance to reach this area as never before,” he said, noting work has begun in earnest toward that end.
With prayer and a spirit of revival an integral part of the convention, Harding noted, “You and your prayers, as much as anything, are responsible for where the convention is today.” In each session, time was set aside to pray for leaders, messengers and churches.
Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, continued the revival theme with his Wednesday evening message. “Revival is not something you work up; it’s something you pray down,” he told the 127 messengers representing the 150 churches and missions in the two-state convention, encompassing more than 11,000 Baptists. “It has been 140 years since revival started in America and swept from shore to shore,” he said, asking, “Do you pray your church would be the spark for such a movement?”
Chapman asked messengers willing to pray for one lost person until they were either saved or dead to come to the front of the church. Nearly everyone present stepped forward to say they were willing to be available not only to pray but also to witness.
Three business sessions during the convention resulted in:
— messengers agreeing to enter a two-year prayer covenant with the Baptist Society of Gaza and the West Bank. The covenant commits the convention to pray for the Palestinian people at least weekly in a public worship service.
— approval of a 1998 budget of $1,679,530, an increase of $72,783 over 1997. In order to meet the ’98 budget, Cooperative Program offerings from Utah and Idaho churches must equal $508,330. The convention will, in turn, send 21 percent, $106,749, to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries, the same as this year/.
— Steve Best, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Boise, Idaho, being elected to a second term as president, as was Rhett Durfee, pastor of First Baptist Church, Provo, Utah. Mike McGuire, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Mountain Home, Idaho, was elected second vice president. Best, Rhett and McGuire all were elected by acclamation.
— election of five new executive board members to three-year terms. The addition of these new members provides at least one representative from each association in the convention. Board members represent various nationalities as well as a blend of laymen and pastors. Three women sit on the board.
For the third year, recognition of new pastors and staff was a highlight. Anyone new to the area since last year’s meeting came forward to introduce himself and tell how long he’d been in the area and where he came from. As each one completed his introduction, someone who has been in the two-state convention a while went to stand with the newcomer. That action signified their pledge to prayerfully support the newcomer through the ensuing year. Eighteen newcomers and their new prayer partners filled the front of the auditorium as Harding led a time of prayer. Jerry Wolverton, who represented the Baptist Sunday School Board at the convention, said it was “the most moving example of love for new pastors I’ve ever seen.”
Earl and Peggy Jackson were honored with a plaque for their 30 years of service in the convention. Jackson retired as director of missions in August.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 10-11 at Mountain View Baptist Church, Layton, Utah.

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  • Debbie Ward