From fall of 2020 through the end of 2021, pastors and ministry leaders across the Northwest Baptist Convention started 29 new congregations in the form of new churches, “replants” and additional campuses of existing churches.
The new congregations represented five language groups and multiple affinity groups, said Gary Irby, NWBC’s church planting director. “God really does give the increase.
“Leading a church during COVID is an incredibly difficult challenge,” he said. “Starting a church from scratch during a pandemic seems even more difficult. We praise God emphatically for his blessings (and) also celebrate the church planters and their families, the partners, and our church planting team who have served in such amazing ways through this season.”
The NWBC was formed in the late 1940s with 15 churches. Today, it has about 500 churches and about 60 of them are what the convention calls “church plants.” The congregations are in the formative stage of establishing themselves in various communities across Oregon, Washington and north Idaho.
Commitment to church planting
“(Our) commitment to church planting has never been higher,” Irby emphasized. “This commitment is not only demonstrated by the large number of new congregations, but by the significant NWBC financial resources being committed to this mission.”
Unlike many state Baptist conventions across the western United States, the NWBC has been able to maintain a full church planting-focused staff team — now funded fully by NWBC churches through their missions giving — to assist in recruitment, training and encouragement of church planters and partner churches.
In prior years, funding for the NWBC’s church planting efforts was jointly funded by the North American Mission Board. But in 2021, NAMB transitioned to working directly with individual church plants.
“The NWBC and its churches are stepping up their commitment to support church plants and planters,” Irby said. The NWBC church planting team organized numerous events over the last year to encourage church planters and further church planting efforts.
NWBC church planting leaders encouraged Northwest Baptists to pray for the new congregations. “Many are wrestling with decisions about whether to continue. COVID has taken its toll. They need your prayers, our continued support, and most of all, God’s presence and leading.”
Praying by regions
In Region 1 — around the Seattle metro area and up to the Canadian border — are Seattle Overflowing Church, Lynnwood; Puyallup Korean Baptist Church; Christ Redeemed Church, Tacoma; Table of Hope Community Church, Puyallup; Farm & Family Missions Church, Bow; Bless the Chinese Baptist Church, Issaquah; Stilly Valley Church, Stanwood; Neema Community Church, Everett; Hispanic congregation yet to be named, Bellingham; Resonate Church, Seattle; Hispanic congregation yet to be named, Lummi; Impact Multiplied, Mount Vernon and Burlington; C4 Cowboy Church, Puyallup.
A replant in Region 2 — around Washington’s Olympic Peninsula — is Chehalis Valley Fellowship, Elma.
Among new congregations in Region 3 — the Portland metro area and parts of southwest Washington — are El Buen Pastor, Vancouver, Washington; Makers Church NW, Vancouver; Go Church PDX, Portland; Point of Encounter Portland, Hillsboro, Oregon.
In Region 4 — the larger portion of Oregon outside the Portland area — newer and replanted congregations include First Baptist Church Toledo, Oregon; Freedom Hill Baptist Church, Sweet Home, Oregon; Resonate Church, Corvallis, Oregon; Point of Encounter, Woodburn, Oregon.
In Region 5 — comprising central/eastern Washington and north Idaho — newer congregations include Emmanuel Baptist Church (three Hispanic plants) in Pasco, Yakima and Pullman; Abide Church, Pasco; Resonate Church, Spokane.
Irby noted the continuing importance of NWBC’s formal partnership with churches affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Churches in the network are slated to participate in multiple vision tours this year. Texas Baptists are also creating a series of promotional videos featuring some NWBC church plants to help secure additional funding and local church partners.