Brief History of Baptist Work in Iowa
Prior to the Civil War, two Baptist churches in Iowa sent messengers to the Wakonda Baptist Association in Missouri. They discontinued sending messengers during the war and we have no record of what happened to these churches.
From the beginning to the present day, lay persons, missionaries and pastors from Missouri and other states have made a vital contribution to the beginning and development of the Iowa Southern Baptist work.
In modern days, the very first Southern Baptist Church to be organized on Iowa soil was the Fairview Baptist Church of Anamosa in 1954. In the mid-fifties, the North Grand River Baptist Association in Missouri commissioned their Superintendent of Missions, Avery Wooderson, to spend one week per month in Iowa beginning new work and assisting in the strengthening of existing work. In 1960, Rev. Avery Wooderson became the Superintendent of Missions for Iowa. Many of our existing churches today are the result of his missionary work.
In 1965, the Iowa Southern Baptist Association was formed with 25 churches, with a grand total of 2,809 members. In 1968, Rev. David T. Bunch became the area Director of Missions. A native of Missouri, he came to Iowa from a pastorate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
In 1972, the Iowa Southern Baptist Fellowship was formed with 40 churches and a grand total of 5,507 members.
In 1975, four associations were formed, Great Rivers on the east side of the state, North Central including Des Moines and northward to the Minnesota line, South Central and Western Associations. In 1980, the first unit of the present office space was purchased. In 1983, the second unit was purchased which includes the present office space.
In 1981, Dr. Mike McKinney, Pastor of Ashworth Road Baptist Church in Des Moines, served as the Interim Executive Director-Treasurer.
In 1981, Dr. Robert H. Stuckey became the Executive Director-Treasurer. Dr. Stuckey came from a staff position in the state of Illinois. Previously, he had served as a foreign missionary.
In 1983, eight associations were formed, Northeast, Great Rivers, Southeast, South Central, Metro, North Central, Southwest and Northwest.
In 1984, Dr. Fred B. Moseley served as Interim Executive Director-Treasurer. Prior to coming to Iowa, Dr. Moseley had served on the staff of New Orleans Seminary and as Vice President of the Home Mission Board.
In 1985, Dr. Webster C. Brown served as Interim Executive Director-Treasurer. A long time friend of Iowa Southern Baptists, Dr. Brown served in this capacity while also serving on the state staff in Missouri.
Dr. O. Wyndell Jones became the Executive Director-Treasurer in June of 1985. He came to Iowa from a state staff position in Alabama.
In 1995 the Baptist Convention of Iowa was constituted in the Annual meeting held at the First Baptist Church of Winterset. From its beginning in 1954 with the organization of one church, the Baptist Convention of Iowa had grown to 79 constituted churches, 14 church-type missions, and 2 Bible fellowships, for a total of 95 units with over 12,000 members.
In 1998 the Associations were realigned from eight associations to seven associations served by five Associational Missionary/Church Starter Strategists.
Dr. O. Wyndell Jones retired March 31, 2001.
Dr. Jimmy Barrentine was called as Executive Director-Treasurer on January 6, 2001. He and his family arrived in Iowa in late February. He came to Iowa from a state staff position in Arkansas. Jimmy served until his retirement in September of 2011.
In 2010 the Baptist Convention of Iowa reported 91 churches and 9 missions with 12,682 members.
In September 2011, Dr. Thomas L. Law, III was called as Interim Executive Director-Treasurer. He served until March 2014.
With a change in the job assignments of the Associational Missionary/Church Starter Strategist to the role of Church Planting Catalyst, North Central and South Central Associations voted to dissolve at their annual meetings in 2012. Northwest, Northeast, and Southwest Associations decided to continue under the direction of a volunteer leadership team. Great Rivers Association called a Director of Missions who would no longer serve in a state staff position. Metro Association continues to function with a Director of Missions/Church Planting Catalyst.
In March of 2014 Dr. Timothy Lubinus became the Executive Director-Treasurer. He came to the Convention from a staff position at Cornerstone Church of Ames. Previously he had served with the International Mission Board.
In 2015 the Baptist Convention of Iowa reported 111 churches, 12,785 members, and 13597 average attendance each week.
Beginning January 1, 2015, the BCI committed to sending 50% of its general receipts to the national mission entities through the Cooperative Program.
In August 2016, citing changes in communication technology and desire for convention staff to be among the churches, the BCI sold its office building in Urbandale.
Beginning in October 2016 the Iowa Ministry Fund began to distribute funds to the best Iowa organizations across ten categories of ministry.
By December 31, 2016 BCI Churches reported over 15,000 average weekly worshippers for the first time (15,575).
Beginning January 1, 2017, the Friendship Baptist Center became its own entity, still receiving support and maintaining a strong partnership with the BCI.