Partnership Empowers Church Planting Efforts

By Brandon Elrod

March 23, 2020

Editor’s Note: Many Northwest Baptist Convention churches in March as praying for North American mission and participating in the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering that provides support for missionaries who serve on behalf of Southern Baptists across North America. Dave and Mary Elliff of Roots Community Church in Seattle were among featured missionaries in this year’s offering emphasis that had a national goal of $70 million.


In many of America’s cities, benchmarks for what count as success in ministry has to be redefined. That's what Dave and Mary Elliff discovered as they planted Roots Community Church in Seattle.


"I have met a lot of people who had never heard of Jesus," Mary recounted. "It's starting from scratch, talking to one person at a time and explaining what we believe and why."


Observers identify nearly 40 percent of the population in the Seattle metro area as religiously unaffiliated. More than 90 percent of the population does not attend an evangelical church at all.


So, the distance between hearing the gospel and responding to it is much greater than some may experience in the “Bible Belt” South. Yet, Roots Community Church averages between 95 and 110 people every Sunday, and the church has seen God at work in their neighborhood.


The Elliffs moved to Seattle from Little Rock, AR, in 2015 because of their heart to reach people with the gospel.


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Disaster Relief Champion Retires

Adapted for the Witness

March 23, 2020

Gary Floyd received the Laddie Adams Service Award for 26 years as the Northwest Baptist Diaster Relief Director.

Gary Floyd, a church planting catalyst for the Northwest Baptist Convention and longtime leader for Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief and community ministries, retired at the end of 2019.


Like many ministers, however, that doesn’t mean he is finished making a contribution to the ongoing work of Northwest Baptists. He became a part-time contract worker with the NWBC to help in three critical areas – strengthening the work of Baptist associations in the Northwest, chaplaincy and disaster relief.


“Gary’s ministry in the Northwest has grown deep and wide over these past 26 years,” said Randy Adams, NWBC executive director. “His new part-time role will continue the focus on Disaster Relief, but he will also further develop chaplain ministry through our churches, and Gary will be the point-man in partnering with local Associations in the Northwest.”

Gary Irby, the NWBC’s church planting director, credited Floyd with assisting multiple churches and ministries.

“Gary is a godly, wise, relational and encouraging worker who raises the IQ of any room he enters,” said Irby last fall as news of Floyd’s retirement began circulating.


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Churches Embrace "God Space" Tool

By Sheila Allen

March 23, 2020

An increasing percentage of Northwest residents seem wary of people who come knocking at their doors, according to Pastor Dan Panter of McKenzie Road Baptist Church in OIympia, WA. That hampered some of the church’s efforts to evangelize those around them, so Panter and the church leaders were on the lookout for a different approach.


“The F.A.I.T.H evangelism approach was being used when I first became pastor at McKenzie Road 17 years ago, and I expanded it and the Lord has blessed,” Panter said. “We used it for several years with lay leaders who were very strong. They kept it running and I helped facilitate but we noticed it was becoming a less and less effective method.”


Recently, Panter was intrigued when he first heard about “God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally.” He heard Doug Pollock, author of the evangelism resource, speak at a Northwest Baptist Convention annual meeting and soon realized it was just what the church needed.


“Our folks have fallen in love with it,” Panter stated. “This is what Jesus did out among the people – he came to our turf engaging people everywhere. That’s how we need to be doing it.”


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NWBC Marking New Funding Path

By Cameron Crabtree

March 23, 2020

When the executive comittee of the Northwest Baptist Convention's executive board convenes in April to begin formulating nexgt year's ministry budget, it will face two challenges: A significant reduction in partnership support from the North American Mission Board beginning in fall 20201 and unknown economic impact from the Coronavirus restrictions.


The preliminary budget forecasting is part of the committee’s routine duty each spring. The committee, composed of NWBC officers, chairpersons of the board’s three committees and the immediate past NWBC president.


Randy Adams, NWBC executive director, notified all executive board members and convention staff in mid-March about the forthcoming reduction of support from NAMB, following a meeting with the mission board’s president, Kevin Ezell, and other leaders from the agency.


“The bottom line is that we were informed that NAMB will no longer jointly-fund any of the work or personnel in the NWBC as of October 1, 2021,” reported Adams. As a Southern Baptist Convention entity, NAMB begins its fiscal year on October 1. The NWBC operates on the calendar year.


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Rock Chinese Church Makes Impact in Puget Sounds

By Sheila Allen

March 23, 2020

Jacob Zhang (right) baptizes a new believer with his father (left).

The soft glow of Christmas lights on neighborhood homes elicit feelings of nostalgia for many people in the United States, but those same lights caused a swell of emotion for Peter Zhang for a different reason after he arrived in the U.S. from central China.


The son of an underground church pastor, Zhang recalled the unique job his father performed at a labor camp while under arrest for his Christian beliefs – making Christmas lights. The father and son duo both continue in their calling to show the way to Jesus’ eternal light.

His father was first introduced to Christ while in college in China and brought the gospel to his family who all became Christians. As he rose in leadership in the underground church, hardship followed.


“When I was 10 years old the police came in to our home to arrest him but he wasn’t there, it was just my mom and me,” Zhang said. “Our home was a house church and my bedroom was where we worshiped. The Holy Spirit told me to collect the Bibles and hymn books and hide them under my pillow when I heard the police in the other room. I then pretended sleep and the police did not search my bed. We then went at 5 a.m. the next morning to my father’s work and told him not to come home.”


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Abuse and Response Position Created by IMB

By Ann Lovell

March 23, 2020

The International Mission Board selected Somer Nowak to fill a newly created position of prevention and response administrator for the 175-year-old entity. She will oversee and manage prevention and response efforts for child abuse (physical and sexual), sexual harassment (including sexual assault) and domestic violence.


IMB is the first Southern Baptist entity to create a position for this purpose, fulfilling IMB President Paul Chitwood's pledge to lead the Southern Baptist Convention in abuse prevention and response.


"The prevention and response administrator position is evidence that IMB absolutely remains committed to making changes necessary to better prevent instances of child abuse and sexual harassment (including sexual assault) and to better care for victims while holding perpetrators accountable," Chitwood said, announcing the selection of Nowak during a January session of IMB trustee meetings.


IMB created the position in response to recommendations from Gray Plant Mooty, the external firm tasked with examining IMB's handling of past allegations regarding child abuse and sexual harassment (including sexual assault) as well as a review of IMB's policies and practices. During Nowak's first year, she will focus on implementing all of the recommendations from the external examination in addition to handling new cases as they occur.


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Perseverance: Pathway to Intimacy

By Clay Holcomb

March 23, 2020

Editor’s Note: Clay Holcomb is the North American Mission Board’s Send Missionary for the Portland and Seattle metro areas. He works to support the church planting missionaries in the Northwest in partnership with Northwest Baptist Convention partners. He offers this reflection on Christian identity and perseverance appropriate to Easter observances and celebrations.


We recently passed through a very difficult season in my community and I suspect you may have experienced this as well. It was a season that tested my resolve in so many ways. I found myself reconsidering my health, our monthly finances, it even put strain on my relationship with my wife.


We’ve dealt with this before and we will persevere, but believe me when I say – it caused some discussions. I’m not talking about the recent health scares or the subsequent stock market free fall, I’m not thinking about the political divide and the many divisive issues that fill our houses of government. No, it’s the annual week of temptation that comes when Girl Scouts start selling their legendary cookies.


It’s graver than it may sound. My health is questioned, because they are, in fact, cookies. My wallet is challenged, because they are often for sale after I’ve paid for the groceries I need. It even strains my relationship with my wife -- she loves Samoa and I’m a Tagalong guy.


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