BRANSON – In the hallways and exhibit hall the Missouri Baptists attending the MBC annual meeting reported a good spirit and a renewed sense of cooperation for ministry in the state and beyond.
The Pathway interviewed several messengers and guests and asked what they liked about the meeting and what cooperation meant to them?
Alan Brock, director of missions (DOM) of Linn-Livingston and North Grand River Baptist Associations said there was a sense of peace. “There is a desire to resolve issues, specifically with SBU. We are glad to welcome back the Baptist Home and Missouri Baptist University. The question then comes, ‘How do we re-engage with Windermere Baptist Assembly?” He said the preaching was very biblical and Christ-centered.
Dave Dexheimer, a messenger from Calvary Baptist Church, Hannibal, said he especially enjoyed hearing Johnny Hunt preach. He liked having the convention with everything in one location. Dexheimer thinks cooperation is important “in order to keep tabs on agencies. They get information to us. Their exhibits are an opportunity to see what is going on with a first-hand account.”
He added, “We have to be diligent in this day … to maintain a sense of control.”
Marlana McAlpin, a member of First Baptist Church, La Plata, and a new resident of Missouri was enjoying a meal at the dinner for new pastors and wives sponsored by the MBC Leadership Development Team.
She said, “We love this area. We are excited about the fact we have seasons here!” McAlpin and her husband, B.J., just moved to La Plata from near Jackson, Mississippi. “We have found the small town (La Plata) to be very nice,” she added.
Her husband, B.J., the pastor of the church, said he thought the MBC staff “want to get you connected to the various ministries…to give you an opportunity to work with people that do those ministries.”
The McAlpins said a challenge they have is balancing home life with community. She is an English teacher via Internet video conferencing with children in China. She works about three hours a morning with students in China who have finished their evening meal and then do conversational English study for an hour or so with Marlana during weeknights.
Mark Millman was at the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention booth engaging with Missouri Baptists and recruiting partners to assist with church planting in Wisconsin, where he is a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board. “We would be glad to have individual churches partnering at any level: prayer, people or provisions,” he said.
Millman said he thinks partnership missions is healthy for a church because “it gets the focus off of themselves.” He invited Missourians to look to Minnesota and Wisconsin for mission trips and partnership opportunities.
Carol Carrigan, a messenger from Boone Creek Baptist Church, Licking, said she “loves meeting the people, including some we went to college with at Hannibal-LaGrange College (now University).” Their church is 165 years old. Her husband is the pastor, Wayne Carrigan. He said, “We come together to cooperate. What one cannot do, two or three can do more.”
From Northwest Missouri city of St. Joseph, Pastor Allan Lane of Calvary Baptist Church said he thought working together as Missouri Baptists gives the local churches a greater vision. The local church is autonomous and is doing it’s part to reach people for Christ, but he loves the cooperative efforts of the convention as a whole.
Randy Festervand, DOM for the Fellowship Baptist Association in Warsaw said he believes cooperation is essential because “I have seen too many try to stand alone and fall.” He likes reconnecting and having fellowship with other ministers during the annual meeting. “I thought the convention sessions were fairly tame compared to some I have been to,” he said with a chuckle.
Alan Brock kind of summed up the convention spirit as he remarked: “Cooperation is necessary because 2,000 churches can do more than one does. It broadens our impact from a church environment to an international environment.”