By Tim Lubinus, BCI Executive Director/Treasurer
2016 was another strong year for the Baptist Convention of Iowa (BCI). We partnered to start six new churches in Iowa and helped start another in Columbia, Missouri. We also welcomed three additional churches to the BCI. For the second year in a row, the BCI was a leader for percentage increase in Cooperative Program giving among state conventions in the SBC, increasing 36% for the year ending September 30, 2016.
Our primary areas of ministry are church starting, church development, and community transformation. Each of these has a full report in this document.
The church starting report is below, but here I’ll mention that in cooperation with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) we created new staff position in Iowa that is being multiplied in other state conventions: the church based church planting catalyst. We have observed that healthy churches plant healthy churches and want to work with and through local churches. To get started, we selected four BCI affiliated churches that have recently started a church and partnered with them to start another church each year. The churches are Redeemer Church in Cedar Rapids, First Family Church in Ankeny, New Heights Church in Indianola, and Cornerstone Church in Ames. Soon after starting the program, Cornerstone Church began partnering directly with NAMB to focus beyond Iowa to start churches and collegiate ministries in university cities in the Midwest. Shane Kelley is on staff with the BCI to coordinate leadership development. Chase Abner coordinates collegiate ministry.
Gilmer Mauricio and Arnaldo Achucarro began work with the BCI this year to support Hispanic pastors and churches in the state and to develop additional leaders. They have hosted a number of events and we are looking forward to even stronger ministry among Hispanics in Iowa in the future.
To strengthen churches, Chris McRae, Ed Gregory, and John Shaull have been tireless this year in meeting with churches and pastors to support, encourage and pray for these churches. They are also working hard to develop associational structures so that churches and pastors near one another can connect for encouragement and shared ministry. This year we especially want to thank and honor John Shaull for sixteen years of service and fifteen years as pastor in Winterset. John has been one of the longest serving BCI staff and is well known and appreciated by pastors in central Iowa and beyond. We are grateful to God that John has such a legacy of service with BCI churches.
In addition, we’re excited that we’ve begun funding the best organization in each of ten categories through the Iowa Ministry Fund. The Foundation Committee uses criteria like doctrinal alignment, years of proven effectiveness, statewide impact, broad ministry scope, connection with local churches, evangelism and discipleship emphasis, and desire to partner with the Baptist Convention of Iowa churches to select the ministries. We intend to give an additional ten percent of our Cooperative Program income and half of the Iowa Mission Offering to the Iowa Ministry Fund each year. More information is in the Foundation Committee Report below.
The Friendship Baptist Center’s directors Jon and Mindy Jamison began their transition to become an independent ministry. The Center is still loved and strongly supported by the BCI, but we believe will be more effective with its own board of local supporting churches.
With the resignation of Frank McCrary, the BCI disaster relief ministry’s leadership is transitioning to a partnership with Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention (WMBC). Dave and Jeanne Wedekind will direct the disaster relief ministry for both BCI and WMBC.
“Under the hood” we made a number of other structural changes in the BCI including transitioning to a mobile office. This included closing the sale of our office building in Urbandale in August and moving two full-time administrative positions to part-time positions. Sandy Guthrie resigned in January, Bobbie Thies transitioned to a part-time contract position, and Mandy Stenberg joined our staff in August as ministry assistant. Jon Olsen has done a great job with communications and the newsletter and Joni Wilkens continues to serve as WMU coordinator.
In all, we had a very encouraging year and look forward to 2017. We are grateful to be in partnership with nearly 15,000 Iowans who gather each week in BCI affiliated churches to honor Jesus and to make His name known in our state.