OSAGE BEACH – Missouri Baptists, meet Iowa Baptists. Messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention MBC) annual meeting voted Nov. 1 to enter a partnership with the Baptist Convention of Iowa (BCI) beginning Jan. 1, 2012 and running through Dec. 31, 2015.
The agreement was signed by MBC Executive Director John Yeats, MBC Partnership Missions Specialist Rick Hedger, BCI interim Executive Director Tom Law III and John Shaull, director of missions for Des Moines Metro Baptist Association. It calls on Missourians and Iowans to work together to “evangelize the lost, plant new churches, strengthen existing churches” and minister to other needs as they are encountered. The agreement includes a possibility for a mutually agreed upon extension of up to four additional years.
“There’s one Baptist church for every 5,000 people in Missouri,” Law told the MBC messengers, “but there is one BCI church for every 26,000 people in our state. Forty-eight of the counties in Iowa have no BCI churches and another 22 have only very small, struggling churches. My challenge to you is that you, your churches and your association would adopt a county in Iowa. My dream is that at the end of this partnership, we will have a strong church in every county in Iowa, from which we can move into the 900 towns and villages that do not have a BCI church and we can help the state find Jesus.”
The partnership has its roots in the past while looking toward the future. The MBC and BCI had a partnership years ago, which led to many Missouri churches planting new work in its neighbor to the north. The partnership will be particularly valuable to Iowa churches as North American Mission Board resources currently in Iowa will soon be allocated toward more populated centers across the U.S. There are currently 106 Southern Baptist churches in seven associations in Iowa. Their state convention staff has 14 employees, including ministry assistants, and five that also serve as directors of missions. The BCI has a goal to reach 200 churches by 2020.
“God has brought this back around,” Hedger said.
Hedger represented the MBC at the BCI annual meeting in Des Moines Nov. 4 and 5.
“They’re asking us to re-engage churches and associations that had relationships in the past,” Hedger said.
The MBC staff would also look at ways to partner with the BCI staff on a personal and professional level.
At least 15 Missouri churches and associations have begun exploring ways to partner with churches and associations in Iowa.
BRIAN KOONCE/staff writer