The 2017 Baptist Convention of Iowa (BCI) Annual Meeting was held on November 4th at Cornerstone Church in Ames. The annual meeting was held in conjunction with a “For the Church” Micro Conference in Partnership with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary(MBTS). Four hundred participants attended the two-day Conference. The speakers at the “For The Church Conference” included Dr. Jason K. Allen, president of MBTS, Jared Wilson, director of content strategy at MBTS, Jeff Dodge, lead pastor at Cornerstone Church of Ames, and Rechab Gray, teaching pastor at Cottage Grove Church of Des Moines. 111 messengers and 55 Guests from 51 churches participated in the 2017 BCI Annual Meeting.
Tim Lubinus, BCI executive director, reported that worship attendance has increased 14% for the second year in a row at Baptist Convention of Iowa churches, topping 15,000 worshipers each week for the first time.
Two new churches have started so far in 2017. Casa de Gratia began gathering as home Bible studies in February. Church planter Arnaldo Achucarro is focusing this work on reaching Hispanic people in West Des Moines. Life Change Church launched on October 1. This church, led by planter Steve Christiansen, is focused on reaching the diverse peoples of East Des Moines. Their Sunday services take place in the Maytag Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds. BCI continues to partner with NAMB to provide three church-based church planting catalysts for our work in Iowa. Geoff Safford, New Heights, Indianola; Donovan Santamaria, Redeemer Church, Cedar Rapids; and Todd Stiles First Family, Ankeny are leading each of their churches to develop and send church planters with a goal of seeing each church plant at least one new congregation each year. Additionally, a growing number of churches are active as supporting churches for our church plants. These churches are praying for, providing financially for, and even partnering with planters through short-term mission projects. Cornerstone Church, Ames began a partnership directly with NAMB called The SALT Network. Their focus is to start churches and collegiate ministries in university cities around the Midwest. In 2017 the various churches of the SALT Network worked together to start the Salt City Church in Minneapolis, MN and Wellspring Church in State College, PA.
New Pastors recognized during the Annual Meeting included Neal McRae, Crest Baptist, Creston; Bob Allen, New Life Davenport; Joey Weber, Stonebridge, Boone; and John Harrell, Shiloh Baptist, Waterloo.
A budget of $1,651,778 was adopted for 2018 marking an increase of less than one percent from 2017 and includes $640,000 in anticipated CP receipts from churches, $730,000 from the North American Mission Board (plus providing one full-time Lead Church Planting Catalyst position) and $60,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources.
The Baptist Convention of Iowa will continue to forward 50 percent of CP receipts to SBC missions and ministries, no change this year. The budget does not include any shared ministry expenses with the SBC.
In the last five years, BCI churches have increased their Cooperative Program giving by 30 percent. Because of the convention’s decision to increase the percentage of giving to the national SBC entities up to 50% in 2014, the increased giving has resulted in a projected 223 percent increase in the 2018 budget from five years ago. In addition, the projected BCI office budget is 91 percent lower than it was five years ago after moving to a mobile office strategy.
Messengers approved a budget that allocates $100,000 to the Iowa Ministry Fund consisting of 10 percent of BCI Cooperative Program receipts and 50 percent of the Iowa Missions Offering with the balance to be made up from reserves and foundation investments. The Iowa Ministry Fund normally distributes $10,000 to a selected ministry organization in each of ten ministry categories. This fund seeks to support organizations and ministries that offer God’s mercy, love, and truth to those who are among the most vulnerable across the state.
Messengers voted to change the convention by-laws concerning the Executive Board by changing the number of Executive Board members from four members from each of the five geographic regions to one member from each region, reducing the Executive Board from twenty-four people to nine (one member from each of five regions plus four officers).
Regional Representatives elected at the annual meeting were Tom Nesbitt, Central Region; Stephen Wolfe, Northeast Region; Howard Avery, Northwest Region Tammy Proenneke Southeast Region; and Jim Parker, Southwest Region.
Officers elected at the annual meeting were President Robert Knight, pastor of New Birth Baptist Church, Ames; First Vice President Jack Owens, Stonebridge Church, Boone; Second Vice President Todd Stiles pastor of First Family Church of Ankeny; and Secretary Jerome Risting, Temple Baptist Church, Mason City. All officers ran unopposed this year.
The BCI is offering a new initiative to help existing churches review their ministry and develop a plan for the future. A three-day worship called StratOp from the Patterson Center is available to help key church leaders get perspective on their strategic, operational, and financial aspects of their church. The workshop will help bring unity to the church when they work together to evaluate their current situation, clarify which direction to head, and develop a customized plan to know what to do next.
The Baptist Convention of Iowa is 112 like-minded churches with over 15,000 worshippers each week who have organized together for greater ministry impact, focusing in the areas of church planting, church development, and community transformation. The BCI pools resources for extending ministry into new areas and population segments within Iowa and around the world, provides mutual support, and develops the next generation of Baptist leaders.
The 2018 annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Iowa will be held on Nov. 10 at Hilton Garden Inn, West Des Moines.