On March 26-27, messengers from the Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches descended upon Calvary Baptist Church in Mt. Pleasant, IA. The purpose of the convergence? To be fed from the Word, strengthened for local church ministry, and to contemplate the business of our association. As a conference messenger and attendee, I can attest to the value and blessing of this year’s state meeting.
The conference highlight, and main speaker for this year’s meeting, was Dr. Dean Taylor from the Pastoral Training Department at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, IA. His theme was “Feed My Sheep”, and as such, he took us on a well-planned, well-exegeted journey through John 21, Acts 20, and 1 Peter 4. As he walked us through these sections of the Sacred Text, he encouraged the messengers, specifically pastors, with words like this: “Recognize the futility of our efforts without Him…Give of yourself regardless of what you get in return…and [preaching] is a gift of God’s grace.” At the end of the day, Dr. Taylor’s words to us were simple: “Love Jesus. Feed His Sheep. Follow Him.” Indeed, every pastor walked away from this conference with these clear marching orders, not from Dr. Taylor per se, but from our precious Lord and Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
In addition to Dr. Taylor’s preaching, multiple workshops were offered, to include: “The Ministry of the Associate Pastor” by Pastor Danny Capon, “Preaching from Old Testament Narrative” by Dr. Dean Taylor, and “It’s Time to Grow Up” by Mrs. Sandy Capon. These workshops were helpful, practical, and blessed the messengers of the conference in a special way. If interested in the notes from any one of these workshops, please contact the workshop leader and they would be glad to give you these notes.
Another valuable aspect of this year’s state meeting was the different business meetings that took place over these two days. Indeed, the Council of Ten was able to meet during this year’s conference and pour over different details that affect our state association. Also, our Annual Business Meeting was conducted, in which (among other things) our State Representative and his wife, Tim and Sandy Capon, gave their report concerning the different ministry opportunities and projects they are currently involved in…and boy are they involved in many things! How we praise God for the precious gift of the leadership of Tim and Sandy Capon to our state association. Also, during the Annual Business Meeting, messengers were able to vote on new Council of Ten members. In fact, your new Council of Ten includes: Will Hatfield (Chairman), Dave Peters (Vice Chairman), Bruce Thompson (Secretary), Shon Lundberg (Treasurer), David Strope, Tim Moore, John Woodford, Doug Farrell, Daniel Hartwig, and David Cotner. Please pray for these men as they advise and counsel our State Representative, Tim Capon.
Another highlight of this year’s conference was a time of discussion on a somewhat long-time concern in our association, namely, what do we do with and how do we interact with churches, in our association, who decide to drop the identifier “Baptist” from their church name. A paper was read, a new policy was presented, and a gentlemanly discussion ensued. Indeed, it was refreshing to see so many different opinions and thoughts being discussed and explained. From my perspective, as one conference attendee, this is a real strength of our association, namely, there is such a wide spectrum of thoughts and opinions on this issue (and others), but, at the end of the day, we desire the same things: unity, the good of our Association, and God’s great glory. A vote concerning our new policy about “Baptist in the Church Name” will be voted upon at next year’s conference. Below is the suggested policy:
“Churches in affiliation with the IARBC shall be Baptist Churches. A Baptist Church shall be identified by the following criteria:
- Identification as a Baptist Church in legal documentation;
- The statement of a recognized council of sister Baptist churches;
- Agreement with the Statement of Faith of the IARBC;
- An open desire to be known as a Baptist church and to seek fellowship with other Baptist churches in the IARBC;
- The practice of the doctrines presented in the Statement of Faith;
- Identification as a Baptist church made readily apparent to its membership and community (e.g. the church’s website, practice, membership classes, publicity materials, etc.).
If churches alter their publicly communicated identity as Baptist, the Council of Ten shall review documents and converse with these churches to ascertain the rationale for these changes.”
All in all, this year’s state conference was helpful and strengthening to all who participated. It sounds cliché, but it was truly a time of good preaching, good singing, good food, and good fellowship. How grateful I am for our state association. It’s serving our needs well and representing the Gospel well; and I know that many of you feel the same way.