PORTLAND, Ore. – Northwest Baptist Convention (NWBC) messengers reduced the size of the executive board and approved a $5 million budget that increases funding for new churches.
With the theme “Making, Marking & Maturing Disciples,” the convention’s 65th annual gathering drew 313 messengers and more than 40 visitors Nov. 13-14 at the Embassy Suites Airport in Portland.
Steve Schenewerk, pastor of Community Baptist Church in Winston, Ore., was re-elected as president, along with two new officers: first vice president, Dale Jenkins, pastor of Airway Heights Baptist Church in Washington, and second vice president, Michael Brownell, pastor of Pine Street Baptist Church in Othello, Wash. All were elected by acclamation.
The $5 million budget for 2013 anticipates $2,840,000 in Cooperative Program (CP) gifts from Northwest churches. The CP gifts comprise 56.3 percent of the spending plan.
Additional revenue for the overall 2013 NWBC budget includes more than $1,729,000 from the North American Mission Board, nearly $64,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources and another $407,000 from the convention’s regional offering and other sources.
While the 2013 budget is roughly 1 percent lower than the current year, it increases by 0.5 percent the amount of CP funds forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will receive 27 percent ($766,800) of NWBC CP funds, while state ministries will receive about 67 percent ($1,894,400). The convention does not set aside shared expenses.
The roughly 6 percent ($178,800) of the remaining CP portion of the budget will support the Pacific Northwest Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, Wash.
Messengers also approved a $140,000 goal for the convention’s regional mission offering in 2013. Gifts to the Sylva Wilson Mission Offering, named in memory of one of the Northwest’s early Woman’s Missionary Union leaders, will be allocated evenly between church planting efforts and leadership development ministries.
Messengers amended the constitution and bylaws to reduce the size of the convention’s executive board from 36 elected members to 20.
“A smaller board is more easily engaged,” Schenewerk said in affirming the constitution committee’s proposal. During discussions of the proposed change in board committees over the last several months, board members indicated support for the change, saying the board is too large for individual members to participate in meaningful ways.
The change also eliminates the president of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) – currently Laura Harper of Seattle – as an ex officio member of the board. A move during the business session to retain the WMU position on the board was withdrawn after officials pointed out it could result in current NWBC staff member Brian Harper losing his post, since the constitution prohibits the convention from employing a board member’s spouse.
“Let me encourage you to take a longer look at this,” Nancy Hall, a member of First Baptist Church in Beaverton, Ore., and a former Northwest WMU president, said. “We consider it to be a great privilege to be in partnership with the Northwest Baptist Convention.”
After additional questions and conflicting parliamentary rulings, the reduction in board size and elimination of the WMU position on the board was approved on a voice vote. Officials pledged to reconsider the WMU-related matter and report back to next year’s convention.
The change also eliminated specification of committees for the board’s work. For years, the board achieved its work through three committees: administrative, finance and program. Officials indicated their desire to align the work of the board’s committees more closely with the assignments and priorities of the convention’s work.
“This gives us the flexibility to appoint committees that relate to the work we’re actually doing,” said Schenewerk.
Messengers approved five resolutions. Among them were statements affirming a focus on gospel impact among local churches, expressing appreciation for the service of retiring executive director Bill Crews, pledging prayer support for the NWBC executive director search committee and support for men and women serving in uniform.
In other business, messengers heard reports from various entities related to the NWBC. No new members were elected to the executive board during the nominating committee’s report. The current 24 members with terms expiring in 2013, 2014 and 2015 were elected for service. Officials did not specify how or when the board would meet the new requirement of 20 elected members that will take effect.
The Northwest Baptist Historical Society presented its annual Heritage Awards to two couples: Frank and Betty Jo Barnes and Bill and Jo Ann Crews.
In what was expected to be his last message as executive director, Crews urged church leaders to renew a passion for evangelism, church planting and “whatever it takes” to reach people in the Northwest.
“Despite our growth as Northwest Baptists, our impact is smaller than it was when we started,” Crews said. “This world needs to be changed. Your community needs to be changed. The way it is going to be changed is through Jesus.
“God has committed that to our hands and given us a ministry of reconciliation,” Crews said. “It’s not the things we can do, but what God did. We need to do whatever it takes to reach those around us.”
During his presidential message, Schenewerk emphasized the basics of ministry regardless of style or form: “Our structures look different, reflecting the unique culture we are trying to reach. The foundation on which my grandparents started churches is the same then as now. The same gospel was preached then as now. They didn’t look like the churches we have today, but the foundation was the same.”
Schenewerk asked messengers to “recommit with me to ensure the foundation of our lives as leaders remains solid. Will you recommit with me as the NWBC moves forward to do our utmost to ensure our foundation does not change?”
Next year’s annual meeting of the Northwest Baptist Witness will be Nov. 12-13 in Yakima, Wash.