Christ directed in Mark 16:15 to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.”
Many of our churches are planning mission trips and projects. Here are a few legal tips.
If minors are going, obtain written consent and relevant information from the parents (e.g., allergies, medications, health issues, emergency care, contacts, etc.)
If traveling by vehicle, all vehicles should be inspected and in good order. Driver licenses should be reviewed to confirm they are not expired. Review your church’s insurance with your carrier to confirm the details of coverage for the mission trip and do not assume that the church’s general liability insurance is adequate or appropriate.
Meet with the team, parents, church leaders to discuss team leader authority, supervision of minors, emergency situations and actions to be taken, security measures, rules of conduct, travel routes, as well as travel and project expectations. Give everyone a packet with this and other information.
International mission trips involve more such as passports, visas, inoculations, security, travel challenges, and what to do in an emergency.
Think ahead and be prepared. If you have any questions or want more detailed advice, feel free to contact your UISBC Legal Team.
Utah Food Bank makes pallet drops of food four times a week to the center.
Salt Lake County – The Baptist Concern Center sits 10 minutes from downtown SLC, provides food for the needy, and so much more.
There are Bible studies, English as a Second Language classes – during which youngsters have their own Bible study – and a supportive environment where the people who come feel respected, cared about, and listened to.
It’s a ministry started 54 years ago by the Salt Lake Baptist Association. It’s also a ministry new nearly every day when people come for help who find out about it from friends, flyers, and state-supplied lists of helping entities.
“We share Jesus whenever we can,” Director Sonia Gutierrez told UI Connections. “We tell them they can have a change in their lives, and we love to see how God changes their life.”
Dora Pineda was one such person. Gutierrez has watched God change Pineda’s life. She first came for food. Gutierrez befriended her, and in time Pineda called begging for help of a different kind.
“She was going through difficult things,” Gutierrez said, diplomatic in her words despite the unvarnished testimony Pineda gave at the recent semi-annual meeting of the Salt Lake Baptist Association.
“I told Sonia, ‘Please don’t leave me alone. I don’t know how to get out of this,’” Pineda told UI Connections, as translated by Gutierrez.
Together the two Spanish-speaking women prayed to God for His help as Pineda grew in her trust in God and within four months became freed from her drug addiction.
“Now she comes every day,” Gutierrez said. “She asked if she could help, and I saw she was very honest.”
Volunteers are essential to the Baptist Concern Center’s ministry: people to move boxes from the parking lot to the nearly 5,000-square-foot building; to unpack the boxes inside the storage room; to do the shopping; to talk with clients when they first arrive, and to clean up inside and out at the end of each workday. There is also a need for someone to pick up “rescue groceries” from places not on the Utah Food Bank’s routes.
Donations of food, diapers, and home cleaning supplies also are needed, as is financial support for needed items that are not donated. This year the Baptist Concern Center served about 25,000 people.
In addition to helping shelve food as it is unloaded from a Utah Food Bank truck – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays it’s rescue groceries and baked goods from area grocers; canned food, dried food products such as rice and beans, produce and dairy items come in on Fridays – Pineda and other volunteers shop for those who come to the Baptist Concern Center between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays; and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
“We still need more volunteers every day, because every day we have a lot of work,” Gutierrez said.
The Concern Center’s food distribution process is simple and effective: People wanting food can come once a month (more often if there’s an emergency) to 1235 California Avenue – the lettering on the 1300 South side of the one-story white stucco and cinder block building says “Esperanza Viva” (Living Hope.)
Clients this year have come from Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, Utah, and elsewhere.
“Yes, we give food, but that’s not all,” Gutierrez said. “We are showing and sharing the love of Jesus in everything we do, every way we can.”
The clients are given a gospel message when they first come into the Baptist Concern Center. They fill out or update their application form required by the Utah Food Bank, after which they are given a ticket number. That number, along with their name and the number of people in the family, and the vehicle (which might say “bike,” “stroller” or even “walking”) is written on a square post-it note and stuck to the designated wall in the storage area.
Volunteer shoppers take the post-it notes and start filling a shopping cart with the quantity of food needed for that size family. While the shoppers are working in the storage room, the intended recipients sit on plastic chairs in the waiting room or wander around several tables on which are various brochures that might be of interest, as well as gospel tracts, and even a table of cookbooks and “healthy eating” resources.
When their name is called, if not before, the clients go back outside to their vehicle, where the shopper meets them, calling out their number while looking for the vehicle. After the client hands the shopper their number (to help make sure clients get their own order and not that of someone else with the same name) they load their vehicle while engaging in conversation with the shopper. At the Holy Spirit’s leading, those conversations turn into divine appointments.
At least 70 and up to 80 or more people come to the Baptist Concern Center Monday evenings and Saturday mornings. ESL classes start at 4 p.m. every Sunday, and the Bible Study starts at 5 p.m. Sunday
“Some who come here also come to our church,” Gutierrez said, referring to Canyons Church in Salt Lake City, where her husband, Rafael Gutierrez, is the Hispanic pastor. “We have people coming here from Salt Lake City, West Valley City, West Jordan, Kearns, Midvale, and other towns in Salt Lake County.”
Pineda is one of ninewho have made a profession of faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior through their connection with the Baptist Concern Center this year. This includes Pineda’s husband.
“Rafael led him to the Lord,” Gutierrez said of her husband and Dora Pineda’s husband. “Dora loves to study the Bible. She loves to pray. She loves to learn about Jesus.”
Again, translated by Gutierrez, Dora Pineda said, “I want to tell everybody about Jesus. Jesus changed my life.”
That change started with food freely given by the Concern Center and those who help support it.
By Karen L. Willoughby A frequent contributor to UI Connections and Baptist Press. She can be reached at email@example.com
Utah Food Bank truck delivers pallets of food to Baptist Concern Center several times a week
Salt Lake City, UT – Ron Clement was spotted kneeling in the parking lot of First Vietnamese Baptist Church Monday afternoon, November 14.
Clement is Salt Lake Baptist Association’s Executive Director.
When asked what he was praying about, Clement said he was praying his knees would hold out. Then he chuckled as he corrected himself. “No, I’m just picking up trash.”
The Vietnamese church meets at the same location – 1235 California Avenue – as the Baptist Concern Center, a food pantry sponsored for more than 20 years by the association.
A Utah Food Bank truck delivers to the Concern Center “rescue groceries” donated by several area grocers on Mondays, and canned food, dried food, produce and dairy items on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
The Baptist Concern Center’s clients include people who live in downtown Salt Lake City, West Valley City, West Jordan, Kearns, Cottonwood Heights, Draper and other town in Salt Lake County, including the homeless who live in rickety recreational vehicles along 1700 South.
A shrinking – because of age and/or illness – number of volunteers help unload and shelve the food as it comes in, shop for clients as they come in and help clean up inside as well as the parking lot afterward.
Your help is needed.
If you’re 6 or older, or have young knees, you could pick up scraps of paper and cardboard outside.
If you are reasonably strong, your muscles are needed to move boxes – mostly the size of rectangular banana boxes, weighing about 20-30 pounds each, up to a maximum of 50 pounds. The Utah Food Bank truck unloads pallets with a fork lift onto the parking lot. Help is needed to carry individual boxes about 50 steps into the Concern Center’s storage area.
If you can pick up a 1-lb. package of rice, box of bakery cookies, or a can of corn, you can put items from the boxes onto shelves.
If you can push a shopping cart, you can take a post-it note from the wall, walk around the room, fill the cart with items for a family of the size indicated, and take the cart out to the parking lot where the recipient will put it into their vehicle, stroller or bike basket, giving you opportunity to have a kind or spiritual conversation, as the Holy Spirit leads.
If you can type, you don’t even need to walk! You can greet the people requesting food, explain the process, help them fill out a form (requested by the Utah Food Bank for verification purposes) and as the Holy Spirit leads, share the love of Jesus with them.
The people who come to the Baptist Concern Center appreciate the help they’re given. If you’re most comfortable silently arranging produce in the storage room, they still appreciate you, because you are helping them feed their family.
The ministry is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays; and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Client interviewing and sign-in as well as stocking and shopping cart help are needed at all these times.
Truck unloading starts about 12:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 10:30 a.m. Thursdays; and 8 a.m. Fridays. Each day the truck unloading time requirement is less than two hours. A volunteer also is needed Monday mornings to pick up donations from Chick-fil-A and Starbucks.
Handyman volunteers also are needed at the Concern Center.
“Something is always breaking down,” SLBA Dir. Clement told UI Connections. On Nov. 14, two men were onsite repairing a copier machine, and the light fixture in BCC Dir. Sonia Gutierrez’ office continually flickered.
A full article about the Baptist Concern Center is to appear in the next issue of UI Connections, but the need for help is too immediate to delay. Donations of food items – rice, dried beans, cooking oil in particular – and money to help pay for Food Bank donations, also are needed.
By Karen L. Willoughby A frequent contributor to UI Connections and Baptist Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary and Naomi McKean are recognized for 15 years of volunteer staff service by UISBC Executive Director, Rob Lee
Layton, Utah – Retired attorney Gary McKean says he plans to keep going “all the way home,” and heaven is that home.
“I’m not done until God tells me I’m done,” the legal consultant – and missions and partnerships coordinator – for the Utah Idaho Southern Baptist Convention told UI Connections.
McKean and Naomi, his wife since 1965, received an appreciation award at the recent UISBC annual meeting for 15 years of voluntary ministry service to Southern Baptists in Utah and Idaho.
“Gary’s work with our churches and legal guidance has saved our churches thousands of dollars and many headaches,” UISBC Executive Director Rob Lee said. “The State Convention is very blessed in Gary’s service as our legal counselor in helping our churches with land, building and body issues that needed legal guidance.
“Without Gary’s legal guidance our state convention of churches would not function as effectively,” Lee continued. “Gary has assisted us in having policies and procedures in place to guide our convention in supporting our churches.”
The McKeans have been active Southern Baptists since they first moved from Florida to Utah 45 years ago to work on government law, in time becoming the Cache County Attorney. Gary and Naomi McKean have been part of two church starts, Today they are members of Sojourn Church in Layton, which was planted in 2019 by Mountain View Baptist Church in Layton.
An ordained deacon, McKean has served as minister of education, Bible teacher and “I’ve done some preaching.” He also served on the SBC Executive Committee for eight years – 2006-2014 – as UISBC’s representative.
Naomi McKean, Gary’s prayer warrior, was a first grade teacher for 46 years and retired in 2007 from Layton Christian Academy. Naomi has served in children’s ministries as a teacher and leader as well as in the ministries of outreach, prayer, food bank, and wherever needed.
The couple reared three children, who have given them five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Together the McKeans have taken multiple international mission trips and have a particular interest in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Their involvement there is through Light of the World Ministry, which operates orphanages and constructs village water wells. Together they also are Mission Service Corps volunteer missionaries through the North American Mission Board.
“Becoming a Christian means you understand and accept the gospel message,” McKean said. “God made us; We are sinners; through God’s grace we are redeemed in Christ; and we are to share that good news with others.
“Christ said to the church, ‘Go out.’ He said that not just to the organized group, but to every Christian,” McKean continued. “Part of the individual’s life is to be sharing Christ. One of the things we’re trying to promote organizationally is that a church is to engage in missions, aware that it’s really the people who do the missions, and they do it by going.”
In his role as partnerships coordinator, McKean has developed the connection between Northwest Georgia churches and Utah-Idaho churches, now in its second year. He also works with churches in UISBC to partner with each other, strengthening each other’s churches in outreach as well as building enduring relationships, strengthening and encouraging each other while reaching still others with the message of God’s unconditional love for each individual.
“We have a lot of small churches,” McKean noted. “In Matthew 28:19-20 – but really we are told in all the gospels – we are to go out. When two or more churches work together, they can make a greater impact. So we encourage churches to join in missions together.
“If churches are going to walk the walk of following Jesus, they need to look outside of themselves,” the missions coordinator continued. “Missions is reflective of where the church is spiritually.”
McKean, an active member of Christian Legal Society, also serves UISBC as legal consultant. For the 15 years since he retired from the Davis County attorney’s office, “He has assisted churches with updating their constitutions, bylaws and legal documents in order for them to function without having issues with local, county, state and federal government,” Lee said.
“He has assisted our church plants in laying a good foundation so that good practices will benefit the new church as it grows and matures,” the executive director said. “In our society today if you ignore the legal and business side of your church you are open to many potential legal issues that would impact the church’s ability to be a light in the community.”
As stated in McKean’s report at the 2022 UISBC annual meeting, “Each church should take the time to review its governing documents (articles of incorporation, constitution/statement of beliefs, bylaws, and policies). Churches should be made aware of legal trends, developments, and concerns as these may impact the church’s ministry. There have been some church closures and dissolution. They need to be aware that the trustees have a legal responsibility to lawfully dissolve the church entity and properly dispose of any assets.”
McKean helps churches with all these issues, and leads legal seminars. Contact email@example.com or through the UISBC office for more information or to schedule an appointment.
“I encourage churches to visit the UISBC website – uisbc.org – and look at the sample legal documents and materials posted on the ‘Resources’ page and ‘Legal’ tab,” McKean said.
“As long as there have been churches there have been legal aspects, but over the last 30 to 40 years, the legal climate has been changing significantly,” the attorney said. “The essential point is that a church has two natures: spiritual and secular. Developing law affects both. Churches need to be aware of the law and take it seriously.”
McKean said he was reared in a Presbyterian home in Pennsylvania and “always trusted God would take care of me and lead me.” When his plan to go to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, was sidetracked because of flat feet, he went to Tulane University in New Orleans.
It was while working in Florida as an attorney that he and Naomi, daughter of an Assembly of God pastor, connected in 1970 with Southern Baptists. They wanted to serve together in a church, and friends led them to South Venice Baptist Church in Venice, Florida.
“The key for me is simply trusting God,” McKean said. “Your faith is reflected in what you do. In law and in life, there is always a blending of faith in what you do. faith has been foundational to my practice and what I do. Micah 6:8 has been a guide for me in law.”
By Karen L. Willoughby A frequent contributor to UI Connections and Baptist Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Utah Idaho Staff with Georgia Baptist pastors
Gary with his family picking out pumpkins in the Fall
Naomi serving children in one of the churches they have served
Gary with children he has served on mission in Sierra Leone
Church Planters, Matthew and Bethany McDonald moved their family from Florida to Idaho to plant a church to reach the Basque people living in Boise.
Boise, ID – What do amazing food, an unreached people group, and the North American Mission Board church planting department have in common? You probably wouldn’t answer “Downtown Boise” but if you did, you’d be right.
The Basque are the most famous people in the world of whom no one has ever heard. They built and sailed Columbus’ ships to the new world. They were the first to bring chocolate to Europe, circumnavigated the globe with Magellan, and have gastronomy that is world-renowned. Yet, they remain a people unreached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While most Basques would tell you they are Catholic, the vast majority only have a cultural identity with the church and no real religious practice. It is estimated that they are 0.03% evangelical, with no church that is Basque in its culture or identity. They have a language that is unrelated to any other and may be the oldest in Europe.
So, what does this have to do with Boise? Boise is home to more than 16,000 Basques, the largest concentration of Basques outside of their homeland in northern Spain and southern France. They started immigrating in the 19th century to herd sheep and continue to arrive today, working in all sectors of life and community. The Basque community remains a very tight-knit group that holds tightly to their cultural identity. While most now speak English as their first language, Euskara (or “Basque”) is widely spoken by many from 5th to 1st generation Basque Americans. Hidden in the plain sight of Caucasian America, the Basque remain in desperate need of the Gospel. There are Basque restaurants, dance groups, choirs, clubs, sports leagues, and even a museum, but no Basque church. As a people on mission, what we must see in this unique situation is opportunity!
Matthew and Bethany McDonald moved their family to Boise in April as NAMB church planters. Their goal is to do what has never been done—to start a Basque church! The word Etxea (Eh-chay-uh) is a Basque word that means “house” or “home” and is traditionally the generational “house of my father.” The Lord has given the McDonalds the vision that in Etxea Church, the Basque would feel the call of God to come to the house of their heavenly Father. What would it look like for God to begin a church in Boise that then started churches in other Basque communities in the United States, and then in their homeland in Europe? The McDonalds are praying that He would do exactly that, and they have hit the ground running.
Through volunteering at the Basque Museum, Matthew and Bethany have been building relationships in the Basque community. This summer, teams from Florida and Tennessee joined forces to help do evangelism in this new work. Through community surveys, café conversations, prayer walking, attending community cultural events, and serving at a Basque festival downtown, these eighteen volunteers helped the McDonalds make new contacts with people at various interest levels. One week later, a team from Salmon Valley Baptist Church and a fellow church planter, David Pryor, joined the McDonalds for the “Basque to School” block party downtown. Using the TVSBA block party trailer, they served chorizo, bottled water, popcorn, cotton candy, and snow cones to 176 people throughout the evening on the Basque block. They also gave out over 200 backpacks, played with families in bounce houses and various lawn games, gave out Bibles, and shared the Gospel with all who would listen.
The result of all these activities is a list of forty-five contacts, with more than a dozen that are interested in Bible studies. Thank you for giving to support this incredible work that God is doing. Pray that as the McDonalds follow up with people over the next few weeks, that new Bible studies would begin that lead to disciples that make disciples. Pray, also, for events going on this fall that will help this team to continue to engage with this people precious to the Lord. If you would like to be involved in what God is doing through this work, contact Matthew at email@example.com.
This article was reprinted with permission from the Treasure Valley Baptist Association Newsletter by Michelle Ring.
CENTERFIELD, UT – One of the primary goals of RIMM Rock Mission Ministries and their leader, Dr Les Wesley of Shelbyville, KY, is to connect the missional dots between local churches who would not otherwise never cross paths. This defiantly happened in Centerfield, UT this summer. RIMM Rock partnered with Burks Branch Baptist Church in Shelbyville for a mission endeavor. On this trip there were two primary objectives: To conduct a Backyard Bible Club for the local children, which took place during four of the days, yielding a diverse group of seven children. Their second goal was to replace the roof on Centerfield Baptist Church. Centerfield is in the geographic center of the state of Utah, a rural community near Gunnison, a city which houses the Utah State Correctional Institute. The church has leaders and members that help facilitate prison ministry in the area.
The church building needed a lot of work, but their greatest need was fixing the roof. The RIMM Rock team worked nearly five full days on the roof. They had to take most of the afternoons off to rest because the desert sun made the roofing shingles unbearably hot; so hot that the singles would fall apart under their feet when they walked on them. Upon deeper inspection of the roof, the team realized the roof was in more distressed condition than previously anticipated and structural repairs were needed to complete the job. There was a large hole in one of the roof valleys that required five sheets of plywood and a day and a half of labor to repair. This challenge was exacerbated by several rainstorms that came through the area during the days they were scheduled to work. It became clear that the RIMM Rock team was not going to be able to complete the job in the during the five-day mission trip as planned. The team felt incredibly guilty about this and blamed themselves for poor planning. However, God would soon reveal to the team His will. There were more missional dots to be connected.
All of the work going on at the church drew some positive attention from members of this small, close-knit community. Everyone in town knew something was going on at the Baptist Church and they became the topic of discussion within the community gossip circles. A man who lived across the street from the church brought over his tractor over to clean up the old shingles from the ground. He also loaned tools to the team. Now, the church has a relationship with this neighbor, who previously never had an interest in the church. He and his wife are great prospects for this church.
By the end of the week, the team only had half of the Southern exposed roof covered with new shingles. An S.O.S. message was sent out to the UISBC State Convention, who then passed the message on to their partner churches. Within a week of RIMM Rock’s departure, people from across Utah showed up to help finish the roof. On July 4th, state convention missionary Jason McNair and his son, Jonathan, joined a couple from Centerville, UT and Pastor Emery Polelonema to finish prep work on the northern and eastern exposed portions of the roof, removing remaining old roofing nails and debris over the entire roof, and running a series of starter courses of shingles to prepare the next team that would be coming later that week.
Over the next few days, Pastor Shane Esplin and several volunteers from Mountain View Baptist Church in Milford, UT came up and completed the job of shingling the entire roof and cleaning up all the remaining old roofing debris from the property.
Dr C. Les Wesley of RIMM Rock commented about the miracle in Centerfield, “WOW! God truly blessed us as a team, truly blessed Pastor Polelonema, and God connected the missional dots. I truly believe these connections will reap much fruit for the gospel in the future.”
As a footnote on this project, an unfortunate challenge the team faced was that Pastor Shane from Milford fell off the roof on the last day of work and had to be rushed to the hospital in nearby Richfield, UT, an hour away. He sustained a break on his ankle that required surgery to repair the next week. He is currently on the road to recovery, with new memories and stories to share about his adventure.
This entire experience is testimony that when it looks like every challenge will make our task too big to overcome, God has a way of connecting the missional dots and seeing His work completed, while giving more people the opportunity to join Him in his great kingdom work. Please pray for Dr Les Wesley and RIMM Rock mission ministries, Pastor Shane as he recovers from ankle surgery, and for Pastor Emery Polelonema as he continues to serve this small community in the center of Utah with a clear presentation of gospel truth with a new roof giving their church many more years to love on the people of Centerfield.
Portions of this article and pictures provided by RIMM Rock July 2022 Monthly Newsletter
Centerfield Baptist Church needed many dedicated hours of work to repair
The before shot of the Centerfield Church roof
Once the old shingles were removed, it was revealed that damage was much worse than originally anticipated
RIMM Rock team had four days of BYKC activities that reached seven local kids
Pastor Emery and RIMM Rock volunteer share a morning working moment on the south side of the church roof
Pastor Emery, Jonathan, and Jason McNair
Finished southern exposure of the roof
Centerfield Baptist Church with finished roof, a front facing view of the church