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Welch urges Dakota Baptists not to discriminate in sharing Christ

RAPID CITY, S.D. (BP)–“Lighting the Way,” based on Acts 13:47, which says, “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth,” was the theme when 76 messengers from 41 churches gathered at Westside Baptist Church in Rapid City, S.D., Oct. 19-21 for the Dakota Baptist Convention.

Bobby Welch, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, delivered a message urging believers not to discriminate when sharing the Gospel and to brainstorm new ways to reach out with the love of Christ to those who would have nothing to do with Christianity.

Messengers approved a budget of $1.2 million, which is a 12 percent decrease from the current budget; 14 percent of Cooperative Program receipts from the churches will continue to be allocated to national and international missions and ministries. The Dakota Baptist Convention now has a total of 88 churches and missions.

Bill Savery, pastor of First Baptist Church in Custer City, S.D., was elected president. James Riekeman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Williston, N.D., was elected vice president, and Kathy Harbert, a member of First Baptist Church in New Underwood, S.D., was elected recording secretary.

The convention recognized two new staff members: Garvon Golden will be serving as a team leader in the evangelism department, and Myron Grueneich will be a team leader in the discipleship, church health and leadership division.

Messengers unanimously affirmed the Dakota Baptist School of Theology and Leadership, which is a new ministry venture designed to train pastors and lay people in biblical studies and church leadership in order to spread the Gospel and make disciples more efficiently.

Charles Sullivan, former executive director of the Indiana Baptist Convention, urged messengers to light the way by “going a little farther.” Using the example of Jesus’ prayer just before His crucifixion, Sullivan challenged Dakota Baptists to leave their comfort zones for the glory of God.

Jim Hamilton, executive director of the Dakota Baptist Convention, pleaded with messengers to help their congregations become Acts 1:8 churches focused on reaching their communities, their states, their nation and their world. For an illustration, he told of an incident in which someone was seen dragging a dead horse down the street.

“Are we guilty of dragging a dead horse in ministry?” he said, adding that the time has come to be purposeful and effective in ministry and to position churches to be Kingdom-building instruments.

The 2006 annual meeting of the Dakota Baptist Convention will be Oct. 1 at Capital Heights Baptist Church in Bismarck, N.D.

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