Large contingent of Missouri Baptists in Romania
Church-to-church partnerships forged during 10-day trip
By Brian Koonce
September 20, 2005
ORADEA, Romania – Missouri and Romanian Baptists have forged nine new church-to-church partnerships, extending the partnership of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and churches in the eastern European nation.
These most recent unions were finalized at a pastors’ conference at Oradea Emmanuel University, a Baptist college near the Romania-Hungary border. A team of 46, including pastors and laity, left Sept. 12 for Romania to kick start the partnerships at the pastors’ conference. They are scheduled to return home Sept. 22. This is just one of more than 40 mission trips Missouri Baptists will make in 2005.
Ryan Bowman, pastor of Summit Hills Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit, came with layman Dennis Jackson and is partnering with Vasile Chiciudean and Olanesti Bai Baptist Church. He said the two churches, though thousands of miles apart, are quite similar.
“We’re a young congregation (seven years) and they are a young church (six years old),” Bowman said. “Vasile is a young pastor and I am young.”
Even though they just met, the two men left the university a day after meeting the Romanian pastor and were asked to lead a seminar in the church for parents.
“It’s not anything like what we prepared for, but he really thinks this is something that will help the people in Olanesti.”
The pair from Lee’s Summit also preached about the importance of spreading the Gospel. The pastor said he hopes the message will spur his congregation to be more missions-oriented. Bowman said the church will be one of the sites Summit Hills goes back to as their years in the partnership progress.
A severe wreck on a highway leading into Oradea prevented many of the Romanian pastors from finding partners. Every Missouri church represented found a partnering church. Out of the 200 in attendance, many did not find a partner. Still, the conference was a time of encouragement, a point driven home by Roy Spannagel, associate executive director of the MBC.
“This is what the Lord told me today: every church has a partner,” he said. “In the Old Testament, the Father told Ezekiel what to do, ‘I will give you a new heart and a new spirit; I will put my spirit in you,’” telling pastors that though they may not have an American partner, they have a more powerful helper in the “mighty wind and fire” of the Holy Spirit.