The DBC's opening session included a time of appreciation for the hundreds of DR-trained feeding, mud-out, shower/laundry and chaplain volunteers from across the nation who showed through statewide media coverage the strength of Southern Baptists cooperating together.
"You prayed, you gave, you came -- thank you," said Fred MacDonald, DBC sending missionaries strategist and disaster relief coordinator.
"Southern Baptists lived out Jesus' call to 'go and do the same.' We've been blessed by this, and encouraged, and strengthened for the work that remains," MacDonald said.
He also thanked the North American Mission Board for its partnership, saying, "They provided funds and sent leadership to coordinate the effort.
"We could not have done this alone," McDonald said.
In one of five resolutions, DBC messengers voted to "challenge each church to adopt and seek ways of bringing the gospel to at least one unengaged, unreached people group, and to register this adoption with IMB Connecting so that together we might embrace the ends of the earth."
Another resolution challenged "our staff to encourage, develop and equip our local DBC churches to join local church planting efforts throughout the Dakotas."
Three resolutions, meanwhile, expressed appreciation to: disaster relief volunteers "for their sacrifice in love"; Jim Hamilton, who recently resigned as the DBC executive director/treasurer, and his wife Lisa for their "investment in our work"; and Cross Pointe Baptist Church in Sioux Falls for hosting "our 28th annual meeting with grace and in a spirit of servanthood."
Fifty-seven messengers from the Dakotas' 94 congregations registered for Sept. 29-30 convention sessions at the South Dakota church.
The "For such a time as this" theme from Esther 4:14 reflected the gravity of this year's gathering. During the last year, the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board announced changes in the way Cooperative Program dollars will be allocated to state conventions. Another change was the resignation of Hamilton in June, with associate executive director Garvon Golden named as interim executive director/treasurer.
A task force to chart the Dakota Baptist Convention's future course was developed. Its work may span two years, after which a search for a new executive director would be conducted.
Three unscripted Q&A sessions provided opportunities for messengers to express their concerns about possible future changes.
"The most important question we should be asking," said Steve Ford, 2010-11 DBC president, "is, who does God want Dakota Southern Baptists to be? God is whittling away all the extra."
Golden asked, "How can we Dakota Baptists penetrate the lostness? How can our churches love our communities? How can we help each other have stronger ministries and a stronger presence in our communities?"
Paul Young, chairman of the DBC Executive Board, said, "How can we do the best with the people God called here?"
Ford summed up the concerns with his final statement: "There are a lot of unknown things. We're going to find we're standing on the solid rock."
Each of the state strategists reported to the membership, with Buck Hill, church starting strategist, underscoring "the importance of church planting" by noting, "Sixty years ago, there were no Southern Baptist churches in the Dakotas."
The 2012 budget of $1,235,976 was approved without discussion. It is a $69,508 decrease from last year. The Cooperative Program percentage giving by Dakota churches remains unchanged at 16 percent.
For the first time in five years in the Dakota convention, two candidates vied for the presidency: Steve Lindsay, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Rapid City, S.D., and Dude Garrett, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Fargo, N.D.
With 44 votes cast, Lindsay was declared the winner by a two-vote margin.
Jeff Musgrave, pastor of First Baptist Church in Langdon, N.D., was elected vice president by acclamation while Kathy Osborne, a laywoman from Grand Forks, N.D., was re-elected recording secretary by acclamation.
Executive Board chairman Paul Young, pastor of Dakota Baptist Church in Fort Totten, N.D., in a written report to DBC churches, noted: "We are called by God to join in the work of a local church and we have been led by the Spirit to cooperate together across the Dakotas to carry out the Great Commission strategies."
Golden, in delivering his report to Dakota messengers, spoke of the need to remain faithful.
"God is not through with us," the interim executive director said, preaching from Esther 4. "There's still more for us to do. ... Our calling doesn't depend on a denomination but on God. Where God guides us, He provides....
"It's our responsibility for those in the Dakotas to hear the Gospel and have their lives transformed," Golden continued.
NAMB remains a valued partner in reaching the people of the Dakotas, he said. "This is a challenge for us to grow and be better stewards of the resources we have available to us," he said. "We will be moving toward taking more responsibility for the financial underpinning of our work in the Dakotas. Today we give 5 cents to get 95 cents from NAMB. By 2019, we will give 20 cents and NAMB will partner with us for the remaining 80 cents for every mission dollar."
The DBC's 2012 annual meeting is scheduled for Sept. 27-28 in Rapid City, S.D.
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Dakota Baptist Connections, The Montana Baptist and the Louisiana Baptist Message, newsjournals for the respective state conventions.
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