Archives For St. Louis metro

See you in St. Louis?

ib2newseditor —  April 25, 2016

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What takes place at the convention is important—in the meetings and in the streets.

When the national Southern Baptist Convention convenes in St. Louis on June 14, I’m hoping there will be a record number of messengers from Illinois churches present. Among the cities where the SBC has met in recent years, St. Louis is certainly the most accessible to a majority of Illinois churches. But convenience isn’t the main reason I’m hoping to see hundreds, even thousands of messengers from Illinois.

First, this is an important SBC presidential election year. As President Ronnie Floyd is completing his second one-year term, three pastors have announced their intent to be nominated. As in the campaign for U. S. President, there are clear and important differences to be found in the leadership records, public statements, and declared priorities of each person seeking to lead the SBC into the future.

In fact, this year’s candidates have notable differences, not just in ministry experience, but in doctrinal conviction and missions cooperation. Messengers will want to study these in advance of the Convention, and arrive prepared to support the nominee who best represents not only their own churches’ practices and convictions, but also the direction they feel is best for our Great Commission cooperation as Baptist churches in the future.

Through the Illinois Baptist,, and other channels, IBSA is providing churches with objective information about and from the SBC President nominees and other issues anticipated at the Convention. IBSA will host a reception for Illinois Baptists at the St. Louis convention center on Monday night following the Pastors’ Conference and just prior to the convention’s start on Tuesday morning. So please, stay engaged and informed!

It’s also important that representatives from your church arrive as registered messengers, and not just as guests. Remember to elect messengers in advance at a church business meeting and register them online if possible. If you need help with this process, contact us here at IBSA.

A second important reason for coming to St. Louis is the evangelistic opportunity called Crossover that takes place just prior to the Convention. In fact, many Illinois churches could participate in Crossover on Saturday, June 11, return to worship in their own churches on June 12, and return for the Pastors’ Conference and Convention the following week.

Metro East Baptist Association Director of Missions Ronny Carroll and others have been representing the Illinois side of the river in planning this emphasis, which includes a variety of volunteer opportunities. You can find a complete listing online at

The people of the cities where the annual SBC is hosted certainly notice when Southern Baptists come to town. The Southern Baptist Convention is a major event, often covered in the news. Church messengers saturate the convention center, hotels and restaurants, and sometimes outside protesters try to step into the spotlight to advance their agendas.

This very public setting provides a wonderful opportunity for thousands of evangelistic volunteers to come and bring the host city both sacrificial service and the good news of the gospel. What takes place in the reporting, worship and business sessions of the SBC meeting itself is vitally important, and worth our time as messengers from Illinois churches, especially this year. And what takes place out in the streets at Crossover can be eternally significant to those who may meet Christ there. It’s well worth our time, both in St. Louis and in our own communities. And these are two very good reasons why I hope I will see you in St. Louis.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at

The BriefingSouthern Baptists called to prayer
On June 14, the entire Tuesday evening session of the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis will be committed to praying for spiritual leaders, our churches, nation, and world. Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd issued the call stating, “the critical need of the hour in America, the state of our churches, the needs of our pastors, the status of our evangelism or lack of it, and the exponential lostness of the world while we are bringing home hundreds of our missionaries… it is time to pray.”

New churches outpace dying ones
America is launching new Protestant churches faster than it loses old ones, attracting many people who previously didn’t attend church anywhere, new LifeWay Research studies show. More than 4,000 new churches opened their doors in 2014, outpacing the 3,700 that closed, according to estimates from 34 denominational statisticians.

Christian women most persecuted
A survey of 192 countries has demonstrated scientifically what many have long known anecdotally to be true: Christian women are more religious than Christian men. The lesser known fact: those women bear the brunt of persecution in the 50 countries where it is hardest to be a Christian.

Tax-exemptions for churches questioned
Massachusetts authorities have challenged the tax-exempt status of a Catholic shrine and retreat center. The center offers daily Masses, religious conferences, a soup kitchen for the hungry, and a Christmas festival of lights. The case which has gone to the state’s supreme court, begs a deeper question: Do religious organizations decide for themselves what they require for their devotional and educational missions, or do municipal tax authorities decide for them?

Porn labeled ‘public health hazard’
The effort to reverse the spread of sexually explicit material and its effects received a boost when Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution saying pornography is establishing “a public health crisis.” The first-of-its-kind resolution, which National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) helped craft and the state legislature approved unanimously, recognizes “the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change” to confront “the pornography epidemic.”

Sources: IB2news, Facts & Trends, Christianity Today, Boston Globe,

Metro St. Louis leaders ready for Crossover partners

Crossover-Banner-smallSt. Louis | As Southern Baptists across the country turn their eyes to St. Louis, Ronny Carroll is more than ready to receive a few thousand extra laborers in order to achieve a great harvest.

“With the manpower coming, our churches can really pull off something God-sized,” said Carroll, executive director of missions for the Metro East Baptist Association, which serves the Illinois side of the St. Louis area. “The preparation alone has already given our churches a boost of energy and excitement in anticipation of what God’s going to do.”

Crossover St. Louis will take place on June 11, just before the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting, which will be held June 14-15 at the city’s America’s Center. Crossover will include more than 70 service and outreach projects throughout five counties in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Prior to the 2015 SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, thousands of seeds were planted resulting in at least 345 people who made professions of faith. Carroll is hoping to double that this year.

“We are praying for 1,000 souls to come to Jesus and for 27 new churches to be established,” he said. “I believe God is going to do his job, we just need to be ready for his movement.”

Carroll said that during the last few months and even years, God has been paving the way for an epic revival of hope and healing to break out in St. Louis. And he said God has used Southern Baptists every step of the way.

“Look at all that has happened, in particular the flooding that occurred around Christmas, where Southern Baptists have been the hands and feet of Jesus,” Carroll said, referring to SBC Disaster Relief efforts in St. Louis just a few months ago. “At one level, Crossover will tie into the work that has already been done and add one more dimension to the truth that Southern Baptists, as individuals and as churches, really care about the people and the communities and quality of life they have. They are primed and ready to receive the eternal hope and salvation that Christ offers.”

And to do that, Carroll said the plan for Crossover St. Louis is to “keep it small, but make it huge.”

Crossover will impact churches in six different associations in both Missouri and Illinois. But, because of the unique needs within each association and community, the projects are indigenous to what will make the biggest impact in a given neighborhood.

“Each church has its own local vision and the 21 projects on our side of the river reflect the unique flavor of our communities,” Carroll said. “We are working with city officials and mayors for some of our cleanup projects and planning block parties, or fiestas, in some of our growing Hispanic neighborhoods.”

Tom Firasek, ministry and partnership coordinator for the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, said organization-wise they are already miles ahead of where past Crossover events were at this stage of the preparation process.

“We met with Rich Halcombe (director of missions in Columbus) and other Columbus Southern Baptist leadership and spent the day learning what works, what doesn’t and what logistical needs might come up,” Firasek said.

“When you are about to support and rally behind 75 or so highly visible events at the same time, you want to be sure to orchestrate everything with excellence, while at the same time pointing to Jesus and proclaiming the gospel every step of the way.”

In addition, Firasek said between 100-150 seminary students will be joining the effort in St. Louis during the week leading up to Crossover.

“We would love to see God open up the needs and challenges of St. Louis so that some of these folks would consider planting their lives here or making ongoing partnerships here,” Firasek said. “In the metro area we have one church for every 7,500 people. We need more church starts.”

With Crossover St. Louis just a couple months away, Carroll said their biggest need is for more volunteers to commit to join them.

“If God’s leading you to be a part of Crossover, please commit to join us soon so we can get you partnered with a project,” he said. “Also, we would love for you to join us in prayer. We are praying God will flood us with his mercy and grace and that He will prepare the lost people to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”

Carroll said they are also praying for churches to be ready to plug new Christians into their ministries and for church plants to grow quickly from the influx of new believers across St. Louis.

“God has already opened so many doors for the gospel to be presented in a mighty way here,” he said. “Pray that we will be faithful with the doors he’s opened.”

For more information on projects taking place during Crossover St. Louis visit the Metro East Baptist Association website at or visit

Kayla Rinker is a freelance journalist in Missouri.

The Forgotten Side

Lisa Misner —  February 1, 2016

Metro East prepares for the Southern Baptist Convention | June 14-15, 2016

Brook's Catsup

The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle may not be as tall as the Gateway Arch (it’s only 170 feet tall from base to cap), but the big monument in Collinsville, Illinois, is older, by 16 years. It was erected over the Brooks plant in 1949. The Brooks bottle has its own website and fan club.

People from elsewhere are confused when I say I am from Illinois, near St. Louis. For many, Illinois means Chicago. But our state is much bigger than that.

When James Eads built the first bridge across the Mississippi in 1874, downtown St. Louis was connected to Illinois as never before. We love our giant city to the north, but much of our state is closer to St. Louis.

If you live near enough to the S-T-L, you know that our region is called Metro East. Let me tell you some of the Metro East story.

The Metro East is five counties on the Illinois side of the river. With 700,000 residents, it’s about one-fourth of the population of metropolitan St. Louis, which comes in at 2.8 million. It includes places like East St. Louis, Alton, Belleville, Edwardsville, Columbia, Collinsville, Fairview Heights and, yes, my town of O’Fallon.

We are diverse, but sometimes segregated. For example, East St. Louis is 98% African American, while O’Fallon is 82% white.

We are old towns, but there is a lot of new growth. Many of us work downtown, but new jobs are being created on our side of the river as well. And Scott Air Force Base has a large influence here. We have poverty and wealth. We have struggling churches and churches that are growing rapidly. We have challenges and opportunities.

Our relationship with St. Louis is complex. We love the city, the sports teams (at least those who don’t move away!) and the many things to see and do there. But we feel forgotten by the Missouri side. We go to the west side of the river often. They rarely come to the east side. We love and need St. Louis, but we identify closely with our own towns and schools.

Our area has many Catholics, but Baptists have a strong influence as well. St. Louis was founded by French explorers and Catholic missionaries. About half of the people in St. Louis consider themselves religious because they have a Catholic background, but the other half don’t claim to be anything.

New Design Baptist Church

The first Baptist church in Illinois was founded at New Design near present day Waterloo in 1796. This log meeting house dates back to 1832.

The first Baptist church in the state of Illinois was in a community called New Design. It was formed in 1786 near the Metro East city of Waterloo. Colonists traveled from Virginia and Kentucky to that spot near the Mississippi River. Among their number were two preachers, James Smith and David Badgley, who preached at New Design. The colony had more than 200 residents by 1800 and was the largest settlement in Illinois at the time.

Since that day, Baptists have impacted the region with the message of the gospel. Many of the strongest churches in IBSA are in Metro East and there are numerous new church plants here.

When the Southern Baptist Convention comes to St. Louis this summer there will be many Metro East Baptists in attendance. We will work and host many of the events that precede the convention. Our churches are planning to host and participate in Crossover events during the weekend before the convention. And my wife is president of the Ministers’ Wives luncheon that will be held on Tuesday of the convention week. She will be very busy!

Okay, we get it. Metro East isn’t Chicago. It isn’t even St. Louis, exactly. But it is a great place to live and we have a great view of the Arch. And God is at work here. And that makes it pretty great!

Doug Munton is pastor of First Baptist Church of O’Fallon. (Illinois, that is, not the one on the Missouri side of the river.) This is part of a series of articles on the Illinois side of the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis.

Come to Metro East for Crossover

What do you get when 5,000 or more Southern Baptists descend on your town for a week? Outreach partners!

Crossover is the SBC’s concentrated evangelistic effort in the days just before each Southern Baptist Convention. Often, it’s a focused outreach day on the preceding Saturday. Churches from all across America bring workers and witnesses to meet needs and share Christ.

And local churches and new church plants find a ready supply of helpers, if they will simply put them to work.

Matt Burton, associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Mascoutah says they have a “two-fold Crossover plan.”

  • Tuesday through Friday of that week we will be doing a “Mascoutah Changers” where our students will use the skills they’ve learned in four years of World Changers to make an impact on the community. Included in our light construction or clean-up projects will be evangelism training and prayer walking.
  • Then on Saturday, the actual Crossover day, the church is planning a block party. We will host a health fair offering such things as school health exams, pregnancy screenings, blood pressure checks, eye exams, etc. And during the day, we will separate out adults from children and give each a clear gospel presentation with an intentional follow-up plan, Burton said.

What to do now:

For Metro East churches, start planning your strategy. Either host a Crossover event or make plans to support another church with theirs. Partnerships formed now can last for years, and advance the gospel in many communities.

For churches outside Metro East, now is the time to make contact with a church in the St. Louis region and form a partnership. Churches will offer different types of ministry events, depending on the demographics and needs of their communities.

Illinois Crossover projects are listed on the Metro East Baptist Association website— Most of the projects are scheduled for Saturday, June 11, but some, like the week-long construction initiative in Mascoutah, start earlier.

Go to and click on “Crossover St. Louis 2016” in the right column for more information, or contact the association at (618) 624-4444.


HEARTLAND (From Baptist Press) | Murders had become too frequent in the south St. Louis neighborhood where August Gate church meets.

Neighbors were fed up – including a few August Gate members who were leading a small group in the church’s Tower Grove East neighborhood. When they called to ask the three-year-old Southern Baptist church plant for help, August Gate community pastor Todd Genteman urged the young adults to get involved.

“You’re the Gospel Community in the neighborhood,” Genteman said, referencing the name by which the small group is known. “You should do something.”

So they did. The Gospel Community group organized a pancake breakfast at the church, bringing in community leaders, business leaders and residents to start a conversation about change. Organizers thought 10 to 20 people might show up, but more than 100 did.

The outreach echoed what the church plant’s lead pastor, Noah Oldham, has been teaching to the church which draws its name, figuratively meaning “harvest the city,” from the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Luke. For August Gate members, Gospel Community groups play a critical role in living out the teaching that every member is a missionary. These neighborhood-based small groups commit to learning the Bible, being a family and living on mission together.

“We want the vast majority of our congregation to be living on mission,” said Oldham, who also serves as the North American Mission Board city coordinator for Send North America: St. Louis. “God calls us to be missionaries in particular places.”

Click on the video below for more about August Gate, or go to for the full story.

<p><a href=”″>Noah Oldham: Empty on the Inside</a> from <a href=””>North American Mission Board</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>