NEWS | Eric Reed and Meredith Flynn
Messengers to the 108th Annual Meeting of the Illinois Baptist State Association Nov. 5-6 pled for spiritual awakening and revival, highlighted in a Concert of Prayer based on Isaiah 6.
Vocal quintet Veritas led in worship during the service, and attenders were led to pray through a four-phase cycle: lament, repent, intercede, and commit.
“I believe we need to cry out to God for spiritual awakening and for revival in our churches,” said IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams as he opened the Concert of Prayer. He asked attenders to lament the decline of our culture.
Adams invited the people to move to the walls of the room and use them as a sort of “wailing wall,” not unlike the famous one in Jerusalem where Jews pray. Soon a chorus of voices and some sniffles filled the space.
“I’ve never been to the Wailing Wall, but knowing the purpose of the wailing wall and what it represents just kind of got me,” said Rick Dorsey, pastor of Beacon Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago Heights.
“It hit me in the gut. And just made me lament that we are still struggling to reach a lost world and not doing everything that He needs us to do, that we need to do in order to reach this lost world.”
After a season of personal repentance, attenders formed small groups and began interceding for lost people they know personally.
“‘Spiritually refreshing’ is the only way I can describe the wonderful Concert of Prayer we experienced Wednesday night,” Adams said later. “Dozens and dozens of folks came to me afterward and told me how very much they needed it. In fact, many described it as the best thing they’ve ever experienced at an Annual Meeting.”
The messages of preachers at the Pastors’ Conference, which precedes the Annual Meeting, and the IBSA President’s message resonated with the prayers:
“The world is at its darkest, it’s a mess—in America, and sure enough in Illinois,” declared Marvin Parker, pastor of Broadview Missionary Baptist Church. “Darkness is covering our state, with same-sex marriage and more. It’s messing with the fabric of the family.”
“If we’re going to push back the darkness in Illinois and in our nation, we’re going to have to get desperate,” IBSA President Odis Weaver said. “If we’re going to push back the darkness, we have to ask the question, How desperate is my church for spiritual awakening? How hungry are our hearts?” And in phrase repeated by others several times, Weaver said, “We will either hunger for God’s righteousness out of desperation or…out of devastation.”
Church planting urgency
With prayer permeating the Annual Meeting and the Pastors’ Conference that preceded it, messengers also voted on officers for the coming year, welcomed new churches affiliating with IBSA, and heard reports from IBSA entities.
In his report, IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams shared encouraging news about the ministry of Illinois Baptist churches, including four new campus ministries begun this year, 260 congregations now registered as Acts 1:8 churches, and 140 pastors and leaders engaged in leadership development processes.
Adams also pointed out areas in need of growth. Through August of this year, IBSA has helped start 16 new churches, down from 24 last year, he reported. “We are not satisfied with that level of church planting in Illinois, and it will not allow us to significantly impact the desperate need of the lost of Illinois for relevant new Baptist churches that can deliver the Gospel in their context,” he said.
Citing the need for more church planters and more church planting sponsor churches, Adams urged, “Together, we must ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field, particularly in the area of the church planting in Illinois.”
Messengers approved six resolutions brought by the IBSA Resolutions and Christian Life Committee: affirming the Bible’s authority; encouraging prayer for elected officials; repenting of sinful choices related to media consumption; including younger leaders in denominational life; encouraging prayer for the Palestinian Church; and affirming the resolution on transgender identity approved by messengers to the national Southern Baptist Convention in June 2014.
An additional resolution on Common Core education standards was referred back to the committee for further study and revision.
Leading up to the Annual Meeting, the IBSA Constitution Committee was prepared to ask messengers to suspend the rules of the IBSA Constitution—bypassing the usual two-year process
needed for revision—so that the IBSA Constitution could allow for the Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services to have its own bylaws, in compliance with Illinois not-for-profit law.
“Upon further examination, however,” Adams told the Illinois Baptist, “the Committee came to believe that it would not be proper parliamentary procedure to apply the ‘suspending of the rules’ action that Robert’s Rules of Order allows to the Constitution itself.
“Rather than go against the IBSA Constitution’s requirement for two readings at separate meetings, then, they decided that approval of separate Children’s Home bylaws and revision of their articles of incorporation at the IBSA Annual Meeting would allow for legal compliance, and that a first reading of the proposed revisions to the IBSA Constitution would be sufficient.”
Messengers at the Annual Meeting unanimously approved the new bylaws and articles of incorporation for BCHFS. “If the IBSA Constitution is amended at the second reading next year, all the necessary documents will have been revised,” Adams said.
Budgets from IBSA, Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services and Baptist Foundation of Illinois were approved during the business session. IBSA’s Cooperative Program goal for 2015 is $6.4 million, 43.25% of which goes to national and international SBC missions causes, while 56.75% stays in the state to support Illinois missions and ministry.
The association’s four current officers were each re-elected by acclamation: Weaver, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, Plainfield, as president; Kevin Carrothers, pastor of Rochester First Baptist Church, as vice president; Melissa Carruthers, member of Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church, Jacksonville, as recording secretary; and Patty Hulskotter, member of Living Faith Baptist Church, Sherman, as assistant recording secretary.
At the start of the Wednesday evening session, messengers welcomed seven new churches affiliating with the association. IBSA’s Credentials Committee also recommended during its report that the association disaffiliate with seven churches that have been non-cooperating for eight or nine years.
Through the annual Ministers’ Relief Offering, taken during the Annual Meeting for pastors facing unexpected transitions, attenders gave $1,651.
The 2015 IBSA Annual Meeting and Pastors’ Conference is scheduled for November 10-12 at First Baptist Church, Marion.