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Wyoming Baptists meet their new state missionary

MILLS, Wyo. (BP) — Two standing ovations marked a leadership transition during the Wyoming Southern Baptist Mission Network’s 35th annual meeting.

Lynn Nikkel retired after 13 years as state missionary plus five previous years as the state convention’s religious education director. He first moved to Wyoming from Oklahoma in 1994 to pastor Memorial Baptist Church in Wheatland, serving there six years.

Quin Williams, pastor since 1996 of Boyd Avenue Baptist Church in Casper, was approved Sept. 14 by the convention’s Executive Board as the new state missionary, effective Nov. 1. Williams came to Wyoming after pastoring in Texas for 17 years.

Both men received standing ovations as they were presented to the 125 messengers from 43 of the Wyoming convention’s 103 congregations, plus 45 guests, who participated in the Nov. 1-2 meeting at the Casper-area Mountain View Baptist Church in Mills.

“Wyoming Southern Baptists are an amazing people,” Nikkel told Baptist Press. “And our 2018 annual meeting was an incredible gathering and celebration of our [Wyoming Southern Baptist Mission] Network family of churches, pastors and members who love the Lord and are committed to expanding the Kingdom of Christ across this state.

“Words cannot express the gratitude Peggy and I feel for all the overwhelming expressions of love and support we received during this gathering,” said Nikkel, serving the next few months as consultant to Williams. “We love Wyoming, love Wyoming Southern Baptists, and will be much in prayer for the great future God has in store for this work, and especially for Quin’s leadership forward.”

Williams, when he was introduced, told messengers he was “somewhat overwhelmed by the responsibility of the position.” He added that he was “humbled, grateful for the affirmation they [the Executive Board] gave me for what I was feeling in my personal prayer life.”

Williams said he had been approached by people to apply for the leadership position; he prayed about it, gave an abbreviated resume to the chairman of the Executive Board and left it in God’s hands.

“What a blessing Boyd Avenue [Baptist Church] has been to my family,” Williams told messengers. “They have shown me what it takes to lead a community to Jesus…. I’m looking forward to what God has for us. It’s not about me, it’s not about Wyoming Southern Baptists. It’s about the Kingdom.”

Appreciation also was expressed several times during the two-day gathering to the host church, Mountain View Baptist, pastor Buddy Hansen, the praise team and kitchen, nursery, cleanup and other volunteers who added to the fellowship enjoyed by the messengers.

Budget, officers, business & reports

Business was short at the annual meeting. A $1,323,516 budget for 2019 was unanimously passed with one question quickly answered. The officers from last year were re-elected unanimously and without opposition. And the one resolution unanimously honored Nikkel and his wife Peggy with Wyoming Baptists’ “heartfelt love and appreciation.”

The only other business was approval — unanimously and without discussion — of changes to the bylaws of the state convention-owned Mountain Top Assembly to bring wording in alignment with the Wyoming Network’s, such as “state missionary” replacing the previously-used “executive director.”

The 2019 budget is $11,867 less than last year’s $1,323,516 budget. Cooperative Program giving from churches — maintaining its 32.75 percent allocation to Southern Baptist causes — is expected to be $527,681, down $28,235 from last year.

Ed Tharp, chairman of the Executive Board, told messengers, “We have lowered the budget to be more in line with anticipated Cooperative Program receipts.”

Likewise, the projected giving from Wyoming to SBC missions and ministries is anticipated to be $137,772, down $9,902 from last year due to the budget reduction, but still at 32.75 percent of Cooperative Program receipts.

The budget includes $445,500 from the North American Mission Board, plus an additional $178,500 for regional missionary funding; $67,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources; $81,668 from the Wyoming Network Mission Offering; $7,300 in registration and fees; and $4,000 in interest income.

The re-elected officers are president, John Constantine, pastor of Story (Wyo.) Community Church; first vice president, John Larramendy, pastor of Alcova (Wyo.) Community Church; second vice president, Dean Whitaker, pastor of United Baptist Church in Riverton; recording secretary, Cheri Mickelson, member at First Southern Baptist in Powell; and assistant recording secretary, Renee Hanson of Mountain View Baptist Church.

Representatives from several Southern Baptist entities spoke to Wyoming messengers, thanking them for their participation in the proclamation of the Gospel worldwide. But the majority of the two-day session was filled with testimonies, reports and messages from Wyoming leaders.

In his final report as state missionary, Nikkel lauded the work of the network’s three area missionaries and three office staff, and looked toward Wyoming’s future. The sale of its building will provide for 17 years’ leasing of that building’s ground floor for the network’s office needs, he reported.

“I am confident Quin will lead the Wyoming Southern Baptist Mission Network where we desire, following the Lord into the future,” Nikkel said. “I am thrilled with the decision by the Executive Board to call him. It’s clearly what God intended.”

Church planting strategist Don Whalen noted the 18 church planters serving in Wyoming, with 14 ongoing church plants and eight “seed congregations.” He is working with an additional 15 potential church planters, five church planting apprentices and three replants.

Three church plants — Ft. Laramie (Wyo.) Country Church, Wind City Church in Casper and Redemption Church in Gillette — have been constituted.

Fred Creason, northeast regional missionary and director of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Center for Leadership Development, reported that in the CLD’s 13 years, it has graduated 85 students, including 10 last spring.

In a written report, south regional missionary David Schroeder described ministry in Wyoming: “Relationships in lonely, far-flung places like Wyoming require intentionality and effort. People do not come here without sacrifice and grief. It can take time to learn and enjoy the best aspects of living in Wyoming.

“Already,” Schroeder wrote, “11 of our 24 pastors are new to their churches since I arrived 29 months ago.”

While the “receipts to budget are still not in line, our receipts to expenditures are doing much better,” Tharp reported. A relationship with Alliance Defending Freedom has been established to protect the network from legal attacks, with churches invited to do the same. “There is much to celebrate as we minister together,” Tharp concluded.

In his role as Wyoming’s Baptist collegiate ministries director, Tharp noted that for the first time ever, each of the state’s eight colleges and universities has an on-campus ministry presence.

Nate Purvis, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Rock Springs, brought the annual sermon. He preached from James 1:4, using the annual meeting’s theme “Set the Tone.”

As the new state missionary, Williams preached the annual meeting’s final message.

“The success of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Mission Network is not dependent on me. We are a family. God’s people. God’s chosen, in place here.

“It’s an exciting day to look to the future,” Williams continued. “Get to work. That’s our Great Commission. It’s as applicable today in Wyoming as it was on the Mount of Ascension.”

Wyoming is the network’s “Jerusalem,” Williams preached from Acts 1:8. “God in His sovereignty has placed you and me in Wyoming. We have a lot of people in Wyoming — I bet you don’t hear that often! — who need the Lord….

“We are not too small. The enemy is not too big. We are the army of God…. Let us be faithful to the mission God has given. We’re small, but big enough. Let us march to our Jesus and see what God does.”

Following his message, Quin and Beth Williams were commissioned for their new responsibility and Lynn and Peggy Nikkel were commissioned for new ministry God has for them as they return to Oklahoma.

Next year’s annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7-8 at Big Horn Baptist Church in Buffalo.