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Utah-Idaho exceeding goals, planting churches

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (BP) — Fifty-six churches have been started in the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention (UISBC) over the last 5 1/2 years, messengers and guests were told at the Oct. 18 annual meeting of the two-state convention.

About 200 congregations speaking in one of at least 13 languages identify with the UISBC, executive director Rob Lee said. That’s up from 48 churches when the two-state convention was organized in 1964, and includes 188 affiliated churches, church plants, pre-plant Bible studies and core teams developed by planters for Bible studies.

In other news, “We ended the 2018 budget year above budget for the third straight year,” Lee said, adding that it was 5.3 percent over budget. Half of the overage was sent to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee for distribution to various SBC entities.

Attendance, budget and reports illustrated the health of UISBC, which met at Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, where Matt McGukin is pastor. McGukin also was president during the annual meeting as well as of the pastors’ conference that preceded it.

A total of 107 messengers from 46 churches — 61 from Idaho and 46 from Utah — and 38 guests participated in the annual meeting that had “Let There Be Light” as its theme, with 2 Corinthians 4:6 as its scriptural reference.

“We have the responsibility for reaching the people here,” said Travis Best, chairman of the UISBC Executive Board, of the two states’ nearly 5 million residents. “We’re working on it. Since Vision 2020 started [in 2014] we’ve baptized 2,600 people.”

Globally, UISBC-affiliated churches have given more than $22 million to missions through the Cooperative Program over the state convention’s history, plus more to seasonal missions offerings, Ashley Clayton told messengers. Clayton is the SBC Executive Committee’s vice president for the Cooperative Program and stewardship.

“For the first time ever, last year the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention sent more than $200,000 to the SBC for distribution to the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, seminaries and the ERLC [Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission],” Clayton continued. “Your influence is spreading across the world.”

Clayton brought greetings from Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the SBC’s Executive Committee, who, Clayton said, has a passion for seeing people come into a personal relationship with Jesus.

Floyd identified “Five Keys” to transforming the culture in the SBC to further the goal of “reaching the world for Christ, whatever the cost, whatever the risk,” Clayton said. “This worldwide mission thrust must be our priority.” Those keys are:

— Living and breathing Gospel urgency

— Empowering all churches, generations, ethnicities and languages

— Telling and celebrating what God is doing

— Loving others like Jesus loves

— Prioritizing, elevating and accelerating generosity

In addition to good news, messengers also learned of hardship endured by pastors’ families, including an adopted 6-year-old son’s difficulties following a kidney transplant and an 18-month-old suffering from spina bifida. But speakers affirmed that such trials are negated by God’s provision.

“You can suffer well,” preached John Avant of Life Action Ministries at the Pastors’ Conference that preceded the UISBC annual meeting. “Don’t you ever think God isn’t at work. … When your load is heavy, remember: Jesus wants you with Him.”


Messengers approved a $1,809,764 budget for 2020, up just $732 from the 2019 budget. Cooperative Program giving is to increase by 1 percentage point to 30 percent, which was one of the goals set for 2020. The budget includes an anticipated $740,081 from UISBC churches, of which $222,024 is set for national CP distribution. The two-state convention plans to continue sending 50 percent of over-budget giving to national and international CP causes.

Other income includes $914,683 from the North American Mission Board, for church planting and evangelism; $60,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources for church health and strengthening; and $95,000 from the state convention’s York-Dillman State Missions Offering.

New officers elected were president Bryan Catherman, pastor of Redeeming Life Church; first vice president Corey Hodges of The Point Church; second vice president Jared Jenkins, minister of discipleship and missions at Risen Life Church. All three minister in Salt Lake City. Roger Naylor, pastor of First Baptist Church of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, was elected recording secretary.

New president Bryan Catherman posted on social media, “Kent Burchyett led wonderful worship, and the four sermons from Second Corinthians preached by Rob Lee, Bobby Wood, Jared Jenkins and Matt McGukin were edifying, convicting and refreshing to my soul.”

The first of two resolutions was in appreciation to McGukin and the members of Calvary Baptist Idaho Falls, who “made everything possible” at the annual meeting.

In the second, “We are resolved to speak out now on behalf of our unborn neighbors,” announced Resolutions Committee chairman Paul Thompson, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho.

The resolution, with five “whereas” clauses — including notice of 4,208 abortions in Utah and Idaho in 2017, according to official records — also had five “resolved” clauses, including, “that we, the God-fearing messengers of the 2019 Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention, declare the human baby in the womb as precious, miraculous, valuable, and welcome neighbors in our communities, so help us God, for the glory of God.”


The two-state convention’s church plant network has changed its name to SEND Utah-Idaho for “greater visibility nationally,” noted Lee in his executive director’s report. Four churches were planted in Utah within the last year. Three more are nearing the plant stage in the Treasure Valley Baptist Association in Idaho, and one started last spring in Magic Valley Baptist Association in Idaho.

UISBC sent $211,122.22 to the SBC Executive Committee for national and international missions and ministries, which was the first time the convention forwarded at least $200,000 of offerings from its churches, Lee said.

Disaster Relief teams from Utah and Idaho were sent in December, January and March to help with the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. Two teams went to Oklahoma in March for help with the Arkansas River flooding.

“We come to this because we want to hear the stories of what God is doing here, there and everywhere,” Anders Snyder, planter/pastor of Calvary Church in Nampa, Idaho, told Baptist Press. “That’s fuel for us.”

The UISBC’s 2020 meeting is set for Oct. 30 at First Baptist Church of West Valley City, Utah.