Church planters and others from across Iowa shared stories of their successes and evidence of God's power in their ministries.
"We are developing a culture in Iowa that understands that reproduction is natural and something every individual believer, church, association and cluster should be involved in doing," said Tom Law, Baptist Convention of Iowa interim executive director.
Iowa Baptists anticipate they will have planted more than 25 churches by year's end, compared to 10 in 2011, Law said.
Messengers adopted a BCI budget of $1,589,031 for 2013, anticipating $505,000 in Cooperative Program receipts from its churches, down from $540,000 budgeted for the current year. Iowa Baptists will continue to send 20 percent of CP receipts, or $101,000, to national and international Southern Baptist Convention causes. No shared BCI/SBC shared expenses were designated in the budget distributed to messengers.
The BCI's annual meeting at the Holiday Inn and Suites attracted 157 messengers and 49 guests from 54 churches across the state.
After extensive discussion, messengers accepted the proposed BCI Strategy Plan designed to "reap the harvest of the Great Commission," Law said, by utilizing church clusters to support each other, work on common problems, pool resources, plant churches and further God's work.
Law expressed amazement at God's work within the state and challenged Iowa congregations to ask themselves, "What does God want me to do in His Kingdom?"
"God is blessing us and giving us a tremendous opportunity to expand His Kingdom," Law said. "It is our responsibility to join Him in His work and do what He has asked us to do."
Messengers amended the BCI constitution to alter the selection method for annual meeting messengers, giving greater representation to smaller churches and congregations that give to the CP and state missions offerings. Other constitutional changes involved the procedure to fill positions on the BCI Executive Board between annual meetings. These changes will be presented again at the 2013 annual meeting for final approval, as required by the constitution.
Messengers re-elected Dan Wiersema, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, as president. Others elected as officers: first vice president, Dan Doolin, pastor of Solid Rock Baptist Church in Wapello; second vice president, Lloyd Eaken, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Anamosa; and secretary, Jerome Risting, a member of Temple Baptist Church in Mason City.
Wiersema exhorted attendees to embrace the Philippians model for cooperative giving. Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, in the annual sermon challenged Iowa Baptists to develop a greater sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as the convention engages in courageous leadership and transformational strategic planning.
The 2013 annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 1-2 at the Holiday Inn & Suites on Merle Hay Road in Des Moines.
Adapted from reports by the Baptist Convention of Iowa and its newsjournal, the Iowa Baptist.
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