Utah-Idaho Baptists herald uptick in baptisms

By Karen L. Willoughby

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – The constant flow of baptisms over the last year was a reason to celebrate at 59th annual meeting of the Utah Idaho Southern Baptist Convention.

“There has rarely been a Sunday this year I have not seen multiple churches having baptism services,” UISBC Executive Director Rob Lee told messengers to the meeting.

UISBC Officers for 2024 (from left) President- Roger Naylor, 1st VP- Dave Carver, 2nd VP- Timothy O’Day, Recording Secretary- Allen Featherstone

About 20 registered guests and 98 messengers from 36 of the 180 churches in the two-state convention met Oct. 27 at Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho, with “The fields are white for harvest” from John 4:35 as its theme.

“We are experiencing a move of God in our churches and plants,” Executive Director Rob Lee told Baptist Press. “The number of multiple baptism services across our state convention is at a level I have not witnessed in my 36 years serving in Utah.”

Though several SBC entity leaders were present in person or via video, the messages were brought by state convention leaders.

Outgoing President Jared Jenkins, executive pastor of Risen Life Church in Salt Lake City, preached from John 4:31-38. A number of folks came to faith over the last year by reading the Bible and then finding Risen Life Church, he told his listeners. That number included 28 baptisms so far this year. “The field is ready for harvest!” Jenkins proclaimed.

“Do not underestimate the enemy,” preached Matt McGukin from Matt. 13:24-30. McGukin is pastor of the host church and chairman of the state convention’s executive board. Christians can look forward to eternity, but others will face judgment. That should motivate those who have a relationship with Jesus to share the Gospel, he said.

Interspersed with sermons during the one-day annual meeting were staff and national entity reports. 

UISBC Executive Director Rob Lee (left) recognizes accountant Janice Trotter for 10 years of service to the UISBC. She also serves the Wyoming and Nevada state Baptist conventions as an accountant.

In his executive director’s report, Lee told messengers of five churches planted, two multi-site campuses started, four churches requesting affiliation and two more requesting information on affiliation for the next year. Fourteen church plants are active in the two states. Ten churches and plants have disbanded.

Though giving is below budget for the second year, Lee said, after the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans this summer, a dozen churches that had not been giving to the Cooperative Program restarted giving during the summer and three more this fall so far.

Snapshots from other reports: VBS this summer outpaced pre-COVID numbers. The 35 Gen-Send college students who were in the two states for eight weeks this summer amassed more Gospel conversations – more than 1,800 – than did NAMB Gen-Senders in any other state convention.

Cooperative Program receipts from churches in 2022 came to 96 percent of budget, the first decline in seven years. Disaster Relief teams have been to Maui twice since the major fire there. The partnership between UISBC and the Northwest Georgia Baptist Association continues to bear fruit.

“There is a growing sense that God is stirring up many people on a regular basis who are asking spiritual questions and exploring biblical Christianity,” reported Bobby Wood, Send Network missionary for Utah and Idaho. Churches planted over the last 10 years have resulted in 150 baptisms, including 50 so far this year at Redemption Hill Church in Eagle Mountain, Wood added.

Business consisted of passing a budget, electing officers and passing two resolutions.

Messengers approved a $1,518,344 budget, including $785,344 in Cooperative Program giving from churches, and up to $635,000 from NAMB for evangelism and church planting. The total is a 1 percent budget reduction from last year. It includes $235,603 (30 percent) in CP giving to national and global SBC causes.

New officers in addition to President Roger Naylor and First Vice President Dave Carver, are Second Vice President Timothy O’Day, pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Lehi, Utah, and Recording Secretary Allen Featherstone, pastor-elder of Mosaic Church in Provo, Utah.

In addition to a resolution expressing “profound gratitude” to the host church and pastor, was one recognizing “The Goodness of Women in Ministry,” which included six “whereas” statements and four “resolved” proclamations.

The resolution, passed unanimously, affirmed “the goodness of God’s plan to include women in biblically appropriate ministry roles within our churches;” recognizing and honoring “the work women have done in the churches of Utah and Idaho;” equipping and mobilizing women “to fulfill their God given callings;” and “That we commit ourselves to celebrate the goodness of women in ministry as we honor, respect, value, and mobilize women as co-laborers in Christ for the advancement of the Gospel in Utah and Idaho.”

The next – and 60th annual – meeting of the Utah Idaho Southern Baptist Convention is set for Oct. 25, 2024, at Risen Life Church in Salt Lake City.

To watch the UISBC Annual Meeting sessions 1-3 in their entirety, visit our YouTube page or watch from our website here:

UISBC Annual Meeting

This article originally published on Baptist Press, the official news site of Southern Baptist Convention.