Rick Hedger, missions and evangelism team leader for the Missouri convention, explained opportunities the partnership would afford, including participation in joint international mission trips and assistance to Iowa churches. Iowa also has a missions partnership with the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Meeting in Des Moines Nov. 4-5, the convention registered 121 messengers and 19 guests from 43 churches and celebrated the theme "Hold to One Another" from Galatians 6:1-10. The Baptist Convention of Iowa has 110 churches and missions with nearly 13,000 members.
Thomas L. Law III was introduced as interim executive director of the convention. A former director of the Tarrant Baptist Association in Fort Worth, Texas, Law is slated to serve two years in the Iowa position.
In his report, Law noted that of the 99 counties in Iowa, 48 have no BCI-affiliated church and another 22 have a limited BCI-affiliated church presence.
He challenged the convention to establish a church in all counties in the state and to use strong, healthy churches to reach the states' 900 cities, towns and villages with little or no BCI presence. Law said strong churches in county seat towns can be used as stack-poles from which smaller communities can be reached.
Law and Hedger encouraged churches and associations in Iowa and Missouri to partner to develop relationships in unreached communities in order to reach residents with the Gospel.
Messengers elected Dan Wiersema, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, president of the convention. Gene Stockton, pastor of Heartland Community Baptist Church in Sioux City, was elected first vice president. Also nominated for that office was Jack Owens, a member of Cornerstone Church in Ames. Stockton was elected by a 62-14 vote.
Nominees for second vice president were John Jakes, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Indianola, and Lloyd Eaken, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Anamosa. Eaken was elected by a 42-26 vote.
David Barton, pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church in Fort Dodge, was elected convention secretary.
Messengers approved a 2012 budget of $1,708,228, an 8.9 percent decrease from the current year. The convention will continue to forward 20 percent of an anticipated $540,000 in Cooperative Program receipts from Iowa churches to national and international missions and ministries.
Ted Keys, the convention's president, preached from John 4 about Jesus and the woman at the well.
"God expects results. God expects multiplication," Keys said. "The lady was at the well at a time when she thought she wouldn't meet anyone. But she was on a course to meet Jesus and didn't know it.
"This was an unusual woman that most of us would not consider using. Jesus put her to work. We need to go where people are," Keys said. "God desires to use unusual people in unusual places to do unusual things in these unusual times."
Resolutions of appreciation were presented to former executive director Jimmy Barrentine and his wife Joan. Barrentine retired from the convention in October.
Messengers heard reports from Missouri Baptist Homes, Campers on Mission, Hannibal-LaGrange University, GuideStone Financial Resources, the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, the SBC Executive Committee and the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Three Iowa Baptist churches were started in the past year, Law said. Baptisms increased by 1.7 percent with Iowa Baptist churches reporting 536 baptisms in 2010. Cooperative Program receipts are down, he said, expressing appreciation for the "sacrificial giving of God's people in these days of financial strain."
Law preached the annual sermon from Luke 19:12-27 on "The Risk of Playing It Safe." He recounted the parable of the king who gave money to 10 servants. Seven were not heard from. Two invested the money and produced outstanding returns. One played it safe and hid the money in a cloth, Law said. The servant did not take any risk, but he also did nothing worthwhile.
Law challenged messengers to look beyond comfort zones and reach Iowa for Jesus. He talked about the need to raise up leaders from within Iowa congregations instead of looking to the outside, and he used the example of a family farm. They can plant corn with the seed saved from last year's harvest, he said, challenging churches to look for opportunities and risk failure in order to succeed.
"God wants us to do everything we can -- to risk everything. He doesn't care whether we consider it a success. If reaching Iowa means falling down again and again, it is OK," Law said. "Our choice is to play it safe or risk it all to change the world."
Next year's annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Iowa will be Nov. 2-3 at the Holiday Inn and Suites Northwest in Des Moines.
Richard Nations is editor of The Iowa Baptist, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of Iowa.
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