Archives For IBSA Annual Meeting and Pastors’ Conference

Postcard art.pngThe 2017 Annual Meeting of the Illinois Baptist State Association is Nov. 8-9 at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur. The online pre-registration process, detailed in a letter sent to IBSA churches, is now open for those who will serve as messengers, or voters, at the meeting.

Pre-registered messengers should bring their paperwork to the meeting in Decatur, where they will be fast-tracked through the rest of the registration process.

The Decatur gathering will focus on the “pioneering spirit” required of those who settled Illinois nearly 200 years ago, and of Christians today who are seeking to push back spiritual lostness in the state.

“When pioneers were settling Illinois in 1818, only about 35,000 residents lived in the entire state, alongside the Native American population,” said IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams. “It was extremely challenging just to survive and to eke out a living. But some of those early pioneers were also pioneers of Baptist faith. During difficult and dangerous times, they considered it a priority to share the gospel and to start new Baptist churches.

“Today Illinois has over 13 million residents, and only about 80,000 Illinois Baptists in church on a given Sunday. In many ways our Great Commission challenge is greater in 2018 than in 1818. We need a fresh wind of pioneering spirit today.”

Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines will speak during the Annual Meeting, and also will be on hand for the IBSA Pastors’ Conference Nov. 7-8 at Tabernacle in Decatur. (For more on the Pastors’ Conference, see the ad on page 6.) The Pastors’ Conference and the Annual Meeting will each offer dinner prior to the Tuesday and Wednesday evening sessions; for more information and to purchase dinner tickets, go to IBSAannualmeeting.org.

A popular hotel chain is running a television commercial that cleverly depicts several groups of people trying to decide whether or not to attend a wedding. One is a group of bridesmaids, who clearly aren’t thrilled about the turquoise dresses the bride has chosen. Another group is former boyfriends of the bride, wondering why on earth they all got invited. And one sad lady simply doesn’t want to see Uncle Joe dance in public again. I think it might be Uncle Joe’s wife.

The musical background for the commercial is a rock song from the 1980’s. Over and over that song chants the simple question, “Should I stay, or should I go?”

Because Chicago is our state’s largest and most diverse mission field, we all need to get more familiar with, and comfortable in, this world class city.

As the November 2-3 IBSA Annual Meeting approaches, I imagine there are Illinois Baptists asking themselves that same question. For the first time in several years, the meeting is being hosted near Chicago, at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church. The drive will be quite a distance for those in other parts of the state, just as last year’s location in Marion was a long drive for northern churches.

And of course some will not want to brave the congestion and the traffic. In fact, I don’t know any Chicagoland natives who look forward to that part.

The message of the hotel chain’s commercial is that their comfortable, affordable hotels give even reluctant travelers reasons to go, rather than stay home. So let me suggest some reasons to go to the IBSA Annual Meeting this year.

We need to see and care about and partner with its churches.

First, the challenging theme of this year’s gathering is “Cross Culture.” The program will intentionally showcase the diversity of Illinois Baptists and also point to multiple cultures in our state that desperately need the gospel. There’s no better place in Illinois to receive the challenge to “cross culture” than in Chicago.

Second, because Chicago is our state’s largest and most diverse mission field, we all need to get more familiar with, and comfortable in, this world class city. We need more practice going there. We need to better understand its neighborhoods, its problems, its needs, and its people. We need to see and care about and partner with its churches.

Third, a lot of advance preparation has already gone in to making your stay in Chicagoland as easy as possible. Broadview is a wonderful, generous church, with lots of parking and lots of practice hosting large events. Catered meals have been arranged on site at the church to make the dinner hour easier and more convenient. Nearby hotels have provided very reasonable rates that include breakfast. And Broadview’s near west suburban location makes it a wonderful home base for seeing more of the city, either on your own or as part of two pre-planned vision tours.

Should you stay or should you go?

I could go on and on, but let me cite just one more reason, one that really applies to every Annual Meeting, regardless of location. It’s just very, very good for our Baptist family in Illinois to be together. Throughout the year, we as pastors and leaders and devoted church members work hard in our various local contexts to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus. As the year draws to a close, it is good for us to assemble, and network, and be inspired, and remember that we are not alone in this mission.

Should you stay or should you go? If at all possible, you should go. It may surprise you what the Lord has done across our state over the past year. And it may surprise you how he and the fellowship of your brothers and sisters in Christ will inspire you for the year to come. I look forward to seeing you there.

For more information about the IBSA Annual Meeting and Pastors’ Conference, visit www.IBSAAnnualMeeting.org.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

At the Vatican’s Humanum Colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman in marriage—happening this week—Pope Francis affirmed marriage as providing “unique, natural, and fundamental good for families, humanity, and societies,” according to a report by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

“Pope Francis made clear that male/female complementarity is essential to marriage, and that this cannot be redefined by ideology or by the state,” said ERLC Executive Director Russell Moore, who is in Vatican City for the gathering of 300 religious leaders.

The_Briefing“I am glad to hear such a strong statement on this, and on how an eclipse of marriage hurts the poor and the vulnerable.”


Construction on the Washington D.C. Museum of the Bible is set to start by Dec. 1, reports Baptist Press. The museum will house the world’s largest private collection of biblical artifacts, owned by the Green family, who also own Hobby Lobby stores.

“We want to invite all people to engage with this book,” said museum board chairman Steve Green. “We think education is the first goal, for people to realize how this book has impacted their lives, and then consider the principles and apply them to their own lives because of the benefits that it brings.”

The eight-story museum, three blocks from the U.S. Capitol, is set to open in 2017.


Memphis pastor Michael Ellis was unanimously elected the first African American president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention during the convention’s annual meeting last week. “I just happen to be an African American,” said the pastor of Impact Baptist Church, who ran unopposed. “Race doesn’t matter,” Ellis told The Baptist & Reflector. “That’s what I love about our convention.”


With a sermon clocking in at 53 hours and 18 minutes, Pastor Zach Zehnder of Florida broke the Guinness world record for Longest Speech Marathon, The Christian Post reports. Zehnder’s message, preached from Friday to Sunday, raised money for a non-profit dedicated to drug and alcohol-addiction recovery.

The goal of the marathon message, he said, “was to talk about God’s ridiculous commitment to his people.”


One in every 30 U.S. children experienced homelessness last year, according to a report by the National Center on Family Homelessness. “America’s Youngest Outcasts” outlines the prevalence of the problem in every state and ranks them from best to worst. Illinois is in the middle at #25.


Baptists in Illinois joined in a “Concert of Prayer” at their Annual Meeting Nov. 5-6 in Springfield. Read a full report here.

God’s Word gives rest

Meredith Flynn —  November 17, 2014

HEARTLAND | Meredith Flynn

Women worship at the Ministers’ Wives’ Conference, held each year during the IBSA Pastors’ Conference.

Women worship at the Ministers’ Wives’ Conference, held each year during the IBSA Pastors’ Conference.

Ministers’ wives face a lot of expectations—from themselves and from other people. Often, those expectations are too high, said Sue Jones during IBSA’s annual Ministers’ Wives’ Conference and luncheon.

“As we confront expectation, as we confront worry, what we need to do is to remember the truth that God has for us,” said Jones, who has been married to her husband, Clif, for 34 years—30 of those in ministry. “That He will never leave us or forsake us, that He who has called us will complete the work in us.

“Am I there yet? Oh my goodness, no.”

God’s sovereignty was the theme of this year’s conference, held during the IBSA Pastors’ Conference Nov. 5. Jones, a native Southerner, entertained her audience with stories about her family and frank life advice, which she said may some day make it into a book about common sense living. She talked about her worries, and asked women to call out their own: money, children, church, husbands, not saying the right thing.

Jones urged minister’s wives to believe rightly by “taking every thought captive,” as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:5. How do we live transformed lives, she asked. God led her to try to memorize John 1. She didn’t want to, Jones admitted; in fact, once she got to verse 11, she felt like that was probably enough. But the words have helped her ward against worry.

Sue Jones from Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur shared about living a life transformed by a reliance on God’s Word.

Sue Jones from Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur shared about living a life transformed by a reliance on God’s Word.

“When I lay down at night and those thoughts come to my mind, I say, ‘In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God…” said Jones, quoting the passage.

“And as I begin to pray John 1:1-11, I find peace. He is God. All things were made by him. He is light and life. I am dearly loved. I am the apple of his eye. There is nothing in my life, there is no hurt, there is no person, and there is no worry that is beyond the scope of the God of the universe. And I begin to discover rest.”

Libby Morecraft from First Baptist Church, Harrisburg, led in worship during the conference, and current officers Judy Taylor and Lindsay McDonald shared encouraging words about missions and marriage. IBSA’s Carmen Halsey spoke about upcoming women’s ministry opportunities, and encouraged the audience about the position they have.

“Yes, it’s different,” Halsey said. “Yes, there are some hardships that come with it. But it’s really a glory moment, too, that God trusted you to do something unique and put you out in front.” She encouraged women to “be the vessel” through which God works.

Ministers’ Wives’ Conference officers for 2015 are: president, Judy Taylor, Dorrisville Baptist Church, Harrisburg; vice president, Lindsay McDonald, First Baptist Church, Casey; and secretary-treasurer, Sue Jones, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Decatur.

The 2015 Ministers’ Wives’ Conference and Luncheon will be held Nov. 11 in Marion.

Pray-ers lined "wailing walls" inside the Springfield Crowne Plaza during the "lament" phase of the Concert of Prayer.

Pray-ers lined “wailing walls” inside the Springfield Crowne Plaza during the “lament” phase of the Isaiah 6 prayer cycle.

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.

Veritas, a group started in part by "Truth" founder Roger Breland, led in worship during the Concert of Prayer.

Veritas, a group started in part by “Truth” founder Roger Breland, led in worship during the Concert of Prayer.

“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.

Amendments postponed
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.