Messengers attending the Northwest Baptist Convention’s 75th annual meeting welcomed 14 churches into the three-state network, adopted a $3,900,000 budget for 2023, approved a $150,000 goal for next year’s Northwest Impact Mission Offering and adopted revisions to the NWBC constitution and bylaws.
Convening Nov. 14-16 at the Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia, Washington, 297 registered messengers also re-elected its current slate of officers to additional one-year terms: Dan Panter of McKenzie Road Baptist Church, Olympia, Washington, president; Bryan Bernard of Redemption Church, Corvallis, Oregon, first vice president; and Chad Harms of Creekside Bible Church, second vice president.
The president chairs the NWBC Executive Board and serves alongside fellow officers on the board’s executive committee.
In addition to registered messengers — the term used for those eligible to vote on convention business items by virtue of being elected by NWBC churches — 114 adults registered as visitors participated in the three-day gathering. Together, participants represented 168 of the NWBC’s 500-plus partnering churches across Washington, Oregon and north Idaho.
Speaking to this year’s meeting theme “Promise,” Panter preached from II Peter 1:3–4 to emphasize the importance of remembering God as the ultimate promise keeper.
Dan Nelson of Chehalem Valley Baptist Church in Newberg, Oregon, in one of the first items of convention business, presented recommendations on behalf of the NWBC’s credential committee that ultimately welcomed 14 churches into the convention.
The $3.9 million total spending plan for next year is down slightly from the 2022 budget of $3,980,000. It reflects a $110,000 reduction in Cooperative Program gifts anticipated from NWBC churches, but an addition of $200,000 in anticipated Missions Northwest funding. Missions Northwest is a new revenue stream because of churches specifying their missions giving for work in the Northwest.
The “shared ministries” portion of the 2023 budget anticipates $2,790,000 in Cooperative Program gifts from Northwest Baptist churches. Twenty percent of that amount — about $566,000 — will be forwarded the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee for disbursement to SBC global mission and education causes in North America and around the world.
An additional $100,000 in the budget is designated for Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention to support work of the school’s Pacific Northwest Campus.
Funding support from the North American Mission Board next year is $100,000. That amount is for grants the NWBC requests for evangelism projects at local Northwest Baptist churches. The grants are subject to NAMB approval based on criteria established by the two entities.
The 2023 budget includes $109,000 from general fund reserves to balance the budget.
The current budget included $450,000 of general fund reserves to balance the budget, but through September the convention had used less than $250,000 from the amount of reserve funds allocated.
Besides the NAMB evangelism grants, Missions Northwest funds and reserves, revenue sources for next year include $150,000 from the Northwest Impact Missions Offering, more than $135,400 in restricted funds and about $415,500 from sources such as endowment earnings, investments and fees.
Messengers approved fund allocations for the fall 2023 Northwest Impact Mission Offering, which will be disbursed in 2024 for various missions and ministry activities: church planting $85,000 (57 percent), collegiate ministry $18,000 (12 percent), the Oasis Retreat for vocational ministry leaders $22,000 (14 percent), ethnic/language church development and Shepherd to Shepherd groups $9,000 (6 percent), Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief $3,000 (2 percent), and Vacation Bible School evangelism $3,000 (2 percent). Another $10,000 is dedicated to promotional expenses.
Most changes messengers adopted in the convention’s constitution and bylaws amounted to updating and clarifying language, but one substantive change expanded criteria for deeming a church “in cooperation and fellowship” with the NWBC.
Previously, one of four marks included contributing financially through the Cooperative Program, the unified budget method through which churches support missions causes not only in the Northwest, but around the world via SBC entities. With the change, churches can designate mission gifts only for NWBC ministries and still qualify.
The adopted changes also included elimination of the Order of Business and the Ethics and Religious Liberty committees. “Those two committees were non-functioning” the last several years, noted Michael Crisp, chairman of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee and member of Chelahem Valley Baptist Church.
The convention’s resolution committee recommended adoption of two resolutions which were approved without any opposition, one on sexual abuse and another that affirmed pro-life values.
The first resolution encouraged churches to “examine and strengthen policies and procedures to protect our children and vulnerable community.”
Commenting on the resolution after its adoption, Panter challenged church leaders or members to take required actions if they see or suspect abuse taking place. “Fear keeps people from speaking up when they see or suspect something,” he said. “We need to be taking action right away.”
The second resolution affirmed the sanctity of all human life and the importance of praying “for laws to be changed to reflect the biblical value of life in all stages.”
In other business, messengers elected new members to the NWBC executive board and Northwest Baptist Foundation board of directors and heard reports from various NWBC-related ministries.
The Northwest Baptist Historical Society presented its annual Heritage Award, honoring individuals or couples who’ve had influential impact on Northwest Baptist ministries, to Leo and Margaret Waldrop. After significant work with the International Mission Board for nearly 30 years, he became director of missions for the Southwest Washington Baptist Association and she was administrative assistant for Gateway’s Pacific Northwest Campus. They retired from their respective positions in 2006 and have since relocated to Alabama.
Next year’s annual meeting is Nov. 13–15 at the Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia, Washington.