VBS Carries on COVID Style

By Sheila Allen

September 23, 2020

Bennette, Finn and Vivian Hobton embraced the construction theme that Chapel Wood Baptist Church in Black Diamond, WA, used to minister through Vacation Bible School.

An unprecedented pandemic did not prevent creative children’s ministry leaders in their endeavor to empower families to disciple their own children through Vacation Bible School. Throughout the Northwest, children were privy to solid Bible teaching and fun activities delivered in new and engaging ways.


“It was so fun to see all the creative ways people are using to try and equip parents to continue their kid’s spiritual journey,” said Leigh Ann Stark, childhood ministry specialist for the Northwest Baptist Convention. “Most children’s directors don’t have the time to focus on parent education during normal times, so the pandemic has given them the opportunity to focus on that.”


Vacation Bible School has been a standout method through the decades in reaching children with the gospel and accounts for thousands giving their allegiance to Jesus each year. While many churches elected to delay VBS for this year, others chose to deliver the content in innovative ways.


Kitsap Lake Baptist Church in Bremerton, WA, carried out their plans by having the musical “rally” time during their Sunday morning service for five weeks by including the whole congregation before releasing the children into small groups outdoors for the active portion of their Vacation Bible School.


See more...

Board Plans 2021 Budget

By Cameron Crabtree

September 23, 2020

The Northwest Baptist Convention’s Executive Board will recommend to messengers attending the fall NWBC annual meeting a $4,680,000 budget for 2021, a $120,000 goal for next year’s Northwest Impact mission offering and approval for financing related to the potential sale of the Northwest Baptist Center in Vancouver, WA, and relocation to another site in the area.


Members of the board’s executive committee convened September 1-2 at the Northwest Baptist Center in Vancouver, WA, while the rest of the board met virtually.


As with many state conventions across the nation this fall, the NWBC annual meeting will be a different experience than usual. Rather than convening in-person at the Great Wolf Lodge in southwest Washington as planned, the board voted to host this year’s annual meeting virtually and to take place over the course of just one day – November 10.


“Given public health concerns and facility restrictions that remain in most counties to minimize spread of the COVID-19 virus, a virtual gathering is our best option,” said Randy Adams, NWBC executive director. “Our 2020 gathering will be heavily condensed, and more details will be forthcoming as we work out details for an online gathering that is encouraging and uplifting for our current season of ministry. Our theme for the meeting is HOPE, something we all need to keep in view right now.”


See more...

Debt Erased in Record Time

By Sheila Allen

September 23, 2020

The Esquivel family celebrate their debt-free status after embracing methods learned in stewardship classes at Pathway Church in Gresham, OR.

When leaders at Pathway Church in Gresham, OR, launched financial education courses through their community groups last fall, Chris and Tina Esquivel were ambivalent about participating but ultimately decided to join the others in their group. It was a life-changing decision for the couple.


Chris Equivel grew up in The Dalles, OR, with close family bonds and a strong spiritual foundation. His father would make regular trips to visit his family in Mexico where he immigrated from. While visiting Portland after becoming a physical therapist, Tina fell in love with the area from a small town outside of Chicago and made the decision to relocate. Now a technician and installer for a cable television and internet provider, Chris met Tina at church and the couple married nine years ago.


“I would say Chris and I were haphazard in our financial management,” said Tina. “My dad was an accountant and overly tight with money, while my mom was more impulsive and I found I could get more out of her. I tended to adopt her impulsive nature as I became an adult.”


Both had heard of Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University and even had received a Ramsey book from Tina’s mother but had never taken the time to read it.


“When we married we didn’t have any credit card debt,” noted Tina. “As time went on we began buying smaller impulse items on credit.”


See more...

Church Systems Strengthened for Growth

By Keith Evans

September 23, 2020

Pathway Church in Coeur d' Alene, ID, has seen explosive growth under the leadership of new pastor Art Valadez.


Editor’s Note: Keith Evans, a longtime pastor and ministry leader in the Northwest Baptist Convention, works with the NWBC’s evangelism and church health office on a part-time contract. In that role, he consults with pastors to help them develop healthy church growth strategies. The following describes how a church in north Idaho has been experiencing revitalized ministry.


You never know what God will do next. It was 5:30 am on a Sunday when Art Valadez asked the Lord where he and his wife Donna should attend church that day. His search for churches in Coeur d ‘Alene, ID, popped up -- Emmanuel Baptist Church. Art felt the Lord nudge him to try IT one out.


Art and Donna had recently relocated to Coeur d’Alene from California, where as a young adult he met the Lord and experienced radical life change.  There he entered full-time ministry and was instrumental in planting several churches. For the 12 years before that, Art served as an executive pastor at a growing multi-site church near his hometown.


But then the Lord began stirring his heart, eventually leading him to relocate in Coeur d’Alene.  When Art and Donna attended Emmanuel Baptist that winter Sunday of 2019, they found a sweet-spirited congregation of 28 people who were searching for a new leader.  When the people learned Art’s story, they invited him to consider the job. 


See more...

Missional Church Continues Generous CP Giving

By Karen Willoughby

September 23, 2020

Dan and Laurie Panter

Being a regional church exacerbates the difficulty of church ministry during the Covid-19 pandemic, but McKenzie Road Baptist Church has accepted the challenge.


The church is in semi-rural Thurston County, where nearly half the county’s 291,000 population lives, and also draws parishioners from the state capital, Olympia, as well as Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm and even further afield.


But while maintaining its generous commitment to global missions through the Cooperative Program, members form a bond that also leads to participation in local, regional and national missions and ministry.


“The Cooperative Program brings all Southern Baptists together,” Dan Panter told Baptist Press. He’s been pastor of McKenzie Road Baptist Church for 18 years. The church where pre-Covid drew about 80 people to Sunday morning worship, is in its fifth year of giving 17 percent of undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program’s global reach. 


See more...

Japanese Family Comes to Faith

By Stella McMillian

September 23, 2020

When IMB worker Jack Wattanawongsawang and his wife Prinna moved to Fukuoka, Japan at the end of 2016, one of the first things they began to do was prayer walk.


They’d leave their apartment, pick a direction, and just start walking. Along the way, they’d pray for God to lead them to the people He had prepared for them to meet, and for God to direct them to the places He’d prepared for them to go.


And then, they’d pray one more thing. They’d pray specifically for God to open a door for them to share the Gospel with an entire family, and for that whole family to put their faith in Christ.


After years of ministry in Japan, a country where less than half a percent of the population are evangelical Christians, they’d learned that social persecution was a challenging barrier to the gospel. 


See more...

Churches Aid Wildfire Victims

Compiled from reports by Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief and Baptist Press staff George Schroeder & Tess Schoonhoven

September 23, 2020

Recovery from devastating wildfires that roared through the Pacific Northwest states so far this summer will take months for thousands of residents, but many Northwest Baptist churches and their members began doing their part to help in the early stages of the emergencies.


“Pray for Northwest pastors and their communities,” urged Gary Floyd of the Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief leadership team. “One of the most challenging ministry dynamics of wildfires and large evacuations is dealing with the missing -- some found, some recovered, some never recovered. Pray that pastors and churches will be sensitive and caring to the communities and families.”


One NWBC pastor will be caring for church members and community residents as he deals with his own loss. Rich Cole of Mill City (OR) Baptist Church lost his home in the Beachie Creek Fire.


“I do not know the rebuild process, but we will learn how it's done,” Cole said in a social media post. “With the help of God and family and friends we are okay, warm, fed, clothed. Many in our home town are much worse off. Please don't forget to pray for and help them too.”


See more...

WMU Facing Large Budget Cuts

By Julie Walters, National WMU

September 23, 2020

National WMU leaders Sandy Wisdom-Martin (left) and Linda Cooper.

In response to a decline in sales due to COVID-19, national WMU announced it is offering a voluntary retirement plan to staff.


“We have worked incredibly hard over the past several years to ‘right size’ our organization based on revenue projections,” said Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director of national WMU. “With two difficult back-to-back downsizings and budget cuts, our goal has been to simplify and put limited resources where they can make the most impact for the kingdom.”


Over the past four years, WMU has cut 34 percent from its budget — which will be $5.2 million beginning in October — for 2020-21. Curriculum sales for missions groups are WMU’s main source of revenue. However, with so much uncertainty related to the pandemic, many churches are not ordering these resources.


“This year we were strategically poised for growth, and then COVID-19 hit our vibrant ministry with a force unequal to anything we’ve seen in recent decades,” Wisdom-Martin said.


See more...

September-October 2020 complete issue
2020 Sept October.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [29.0 MB]