by Tim Lubinus, BCI Executive Director
This year’s annual meeting is my second as executive director for the Baptist Convention of Iowa. It continues to be a joy to partner with churches across the state and to observe the richness of the various ways that God interacts with His people. Our churches have a variety of worship and preaching styles in a wide range of settings, but we worship one God, one Gospel, and one savior, Jesus Christ.
While in 2014 we could celebrate the sixtieth year since our first church started in Iowa, this year marks the twentieth year since the founding of our state convention. We are grateful for the many who have invested in our churches, our pastors, and the organizational structures that help us to effective work together to reach the people of Iowa.
During this year I’ve noticed what may be a new trend. In the past some church leaders have been declaring that denominations are not really needed. Now it seems that the idea of working together for fellowship, support, and shared ministry is making a come back. Churches that have been independent are asking to join us for cooperative ministry. Several Iowa churches have significantly increased their financial support missions through the cooperative program. I think it is likely that our decision last year to increase our giving to the executive committee (our national mission entities) from twenty percent to fifty percent provided us with momentum and incentive to give through the Cooperative Program.
At the same time, across the SBC there has been an uptick in percentage giving of churches to our missions funding mechanism, the Cooperative Program. I think church leaders are more and more realizing that the SBC not only has the strongest funding system for missions, but that our agencies are some of the premier institutions for reaching the nations for Christ through the International Mission Board, starting churches through the North American Mission Board, and developing leaders through our six seminaries. We also have a leading voice in key cultural issues through the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Although executive board structures are not always the most interesting topics, this year we made a change to our board structure that allows for board members to increase focus in our various ministries while at the same time decreases costs to the convention. We are grateful for all who diligently serve on our board and various committees.
This year we added a new full-time staff person, Chris McRae. Chris has over thirty years of experience in ministry and has specific skills and passion for discipleship and small group ministry. Chris has traveled the state and is designing materials and other tools to help us to become better followers of Jesus Christ.
Ed Gregory and John Shaull have been pastors to pastors, offering encouragement, prayer, and other support to pastors across the state. We are grateful for their depth of experience in pastoral ministry and their accumulated wisdom that is necessary to provide strong support for our pastors.
Jon and Mindy Jamison are in their sixteenth year at the Friendship Baptist Center and continue to show Christ’s love in a community affected by poverty.
We all want to express thanks for the commitment and dedication to our other staff and support staff that includes Sandy Guthrie, Bobbie Thies, Jon Olsen, Joni Wilkinson, and Frank McCrary.
Finally, we are grateful to the people who make up the Baptist Convention of Iowa churches who each day proclaim the message of Jesus and live a life of faith.