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Wyoming Baptists adopt regional format

THERMOPOLIS, Wyo. (BP) — The Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention has restructured into three regions, ending its previous format of four geographic areas with eight associations, with the intent of increasing local ownership in reaching the state for Christ.

The restructuring was based on the Future Study Group recommendation Wyoming Baptists approved at the 2013 annual meeting. Included are the institution of regional representation on the WSBC executive board, and the allowance of church plants to be counted separately from their sponsoring church in the seating of messengers.

During the 2014 meeting Nov. 6-7 at the Risen Son Southern Baptist Church in Thermopolis, messengers unanimously amended WSBC bylaws to exclude from cooperation churches that “take any position to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexuality or any other sexual behavior that is contrary to or not in harmony with the teachings of the written Word of God,” WSBC executive director Lynn Nikkel reported.

“As we met in annual meeting sessions there was a great spirit of unity and togetherness as we continue to move forward with our planned new directions and structure for the convention,” Nikkel reported. “While we understand that the path to our future has its challenges, we believe we have found God’s direction and move on trusting Him to provide and continue to lead.”

Messengers approved a budget of $1,710,224, an increase of 17.5 percent over the current budget. In his report posted on the WSBC website, Nikkel explained that the new budget includes “an almost $185,000 deficit between proposed expenditures and normally expected receipts. How will that deficit be made up? We are not exactly sure how God will provide all of that, but we believe He is leading us and so we trust He will provide. This unbalanced budget was approved unanimously by messengers.”

Wyoming Baptists anticipate receiving $567,639 in Cooperative Program gifts from its participating churches, with the balance of the budget coming from other sources. Messengers voted to contribute 32.75 percent of CP gifts to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international causes. Messengers marked 13.7 percent of the total budget to cover expenses shared by the state and national convention, Nikkel reported.

Reelected officers are president Mike Cooper, pastor of College Heights Baptist Church in Casper; first vice president Clay Alexander, pastor of Big Horn Baptist Church in Buffalo, and second vice president David Grace, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Laramie. Elected to first terms were clerk Renee Hanson, wife of pastor Buddy Hanson of Mountain View Baptist Church in Mills; and assistant clerk Cheri Mickelson, a member of First Southern Baptist Church in Powell.

Speakers included Dean Whitaker, pastor of United Baptist Church in Riverton, who preached the annual sermon; Nikkel, who preached the Nov. 6 evening service; Quin Williams, pastor of Boyd Avenue Baptist Church in Casper and WSBC past president, who preached the Nov. 7 afternoon session, and Cooper, who preached during the Nov. 7 closing service. The praise team from the host church led praise and worship.

The 95 messengers and 24 non-messengers in attendance represented 102 churches and missions. This year’s annual meeting theme was “God Alone,” taken form Jeremiah 17:7-8.

The 2015 meeting will be held Nov. 5-6 at Bar Nunn Baptist Church in Bar Nunn.

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