MARBC News & Notes – July/August 2009

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From The Baptist Testimony – Volume 55 Number 4 July/August 2009

September 11-12, 2009
Strengthening the Deacon-Pastor Partnership
MARBC Church Strengthening Seminar
Featuring Dr. Howard Bixby
ChristWay Ministries
September 11-12, 2009
Gull Lake Conference Center
$85 per person (Reserve your group’s spot by July 31 and pay only $60 per person!)
(includes Friday night lodging and snack, Saturday breakfast and lunch, and seminar materials)
Special bonus feature!!!  Pastors attending this seminar can qualify to receive 1 hour of continuing education seminary credit from Baptist Bible Seminary!  (Download information related to earning seminary credit here.)  
Downloadable brochures and registration forms are available at or by contacting the MARBC office
(Include picture of Dr. Howard Bixby with this note)

September 27, 2009
MARBC Annual Day of “One Accord” Prayer
(Refer to the information shared later in this issue)

October 26-27, 2009
“Real Hope for a Troubled World”
67th Annual MARBC Conference
Forest Hills Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Conference Speakers:  Dr. Jim Grier, Dr. Hanz Bernard, Ken Floyd, Mel Walker, Peggy Walker
(Annual conference packets will be mailed to churches in late August.  Complete conference details and downloadable forms are available here.)


CHURCH PARTNERING RELATIONSHIPS (CPR) – Please continue to remember in prayer the over two dozen CPR projects scheduled this summer, many of them in the months of July and August.  These partnerships include DVBS, canvassing, soccer camps, building, and maintenance projects.  We praise God for the reports already received this summer of many coming to faith in Christ, churches strengthened, and building projects accomplished.  As you travel around the State of Michigan this summer, why not find a sister church near your vacation site and plan to worship there on Sunday?  Perhaps there is a “mini” work project that you and your family could do to encourage a sister church.  Need ideas?  Contact the MARBC office.  A full CPR report will be included in the next issue of the Baptist Testimony.

GARBC Annual Conference Highlights – The Annual Conference of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches was held June 22-26, at the church facilities of First Baptist Church in Elyria, Ohio.  This year’s conference theme was “Cutting Straight.” The conference was highlighted by excellent Bible messages and several practical workshops. The morning Bible hour messages were presented by Dr. Renald Showers, Friends of Israel ministry.  The evening messages were presented by Dr. Kevin Bauder, president of Central Baptist Seminary.  Highlights of the conference, including downloadable messages, reports, and pictures are available online at

The National Talents for Christ scholarship competition was held in conjunction with the “Students Alive!” youth conference on June 25.  We congratulate Alyssa Pyne, a senior from Evangel Baptist Church in Taylor.  Alyssa received first place honors in the Oral Interpretation of the Bible (Open Division) category for her interpretation of God’s response to Job as recorded in Job 40-41.  In 2007 Alyssa received the Woodwinds category 1st place award in the Scholarship Division.  She plans to use her scholarship to attend Baptist Bible College this fall.

We encourage our youth and their churches to begin preparations for next year’s MARBC State Competition (April) and GARBC National Competition (June) TFC events.

BATTLE CREEK, Calvary Baptist Church (Brian Spencer, Pastor) – On August 2, 2009, Brian E. Spencer will retire after serving 28 years as the senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Battle Creek, Michigan.  Pastor Spencer will preach his last sermon in the 10:50 a.m. morning worship service.  A special Celebration Service at 2:00 pm will include many memories and surprises.  All are invited to attend.  Please RSVP by Email or at 269-963-4433.

FLINT, South Baptist Church – On Sunday evening, May 3, South Baptist Church held a special service for the purpose of ordaining Pastor Don Chapin.  Pastor Don has served as Pastor of Student Ministries at the church for 7 years.  On May 1, an ordination council made up of area pastors unanimously recommended that the church proceed with ordination.  The service included a challenge from Pastor Don’s former youth pastor, Bud Hall, who currently is a pastor in Long Island, NY.  Fellow South Baptist Pastors Larry Burk and William Payne also took part in leading the service.   Many of Don’s family members were able to attend the service.  A reception followed the service and a love offering was taken to enable Pastor Don to purchase books for his library.  Pastor Don and his wife Laurie are blessed with 4 boys:  Joshua, Jackson, Jason, Joseph.  Congratulations Pastor Don!

GRAND RAPIDS, Iglesia Bautista Biblica (Paul Joles and Larry Groat, pastors) – An exciting new Hispanic church planting endeavor was inaugurated on Sunday, April 5, in downtown Grand Rapids. Iglesia Bautista Biblica originated as a part of the City View Church ministry on Alpine Ave. NW.  City View is itself a multi-cultural church plant that was started by several churches in the Grand Rapids area about twenty years ago.

The Hispanic outreach at City View has been growing numerically and spiritually the past few years. Recently, the ministry was able to secure a two-story storefront location at 436 Leonard St. NW.  The location is just two blocks west of the US 131 freeway.

Helping to lead this new work are Larry and Pat Groat, Baptist Mid-Missions (BMM) missionaries, who have led the Hispanic congregation at City View.  Joining the Groats are another BMM missionary couple, Paul and Barb Joles.  In their new ministry roles, Paul is serving as the senior pastor and Larry is the associate.  Their hope is that the new location will give their congregation a sense of ownership as they take on a greater role in the operations of the ministry.

An open house was held on Sunday, May 24, with dozens in attendance.  The congregation has responded well to the move.  Recently, two ladies have responded to the need of salvation.  The list of people desiring to be baptized has increased.  A wedding was held in April with another planned for July.  Several teens and children have expressed a desire to attend summer camp.

Many in the church congregation have provided essential items for the kitchen and bathrooms.   Supporting churches and friends have donated chairs, tables, a keyboard, storage cabinets, supplies, and a set of telephones.  The MARBC CPR Initiative is continuing to help link this new church to opportunities for physical and financial resources and personnel support.

With the Lord
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”  Psalm 116:15

Dorothy Piell, age 87, was absent from the body and present with her Lord on Tuesday, May 12, 2009.  Dorothy served faithfully for many years as a pastor’s wife with her husband, Irvin, including several years at Newhall Baptist Church in Wyoming, Michigan.  Irvin preceded Dorothy in death in January 2008.  A memorial service was led by her son, Pastor David Piell, and Pastor Mike Eleveld.

Wilma Bopp, age 83, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Friday, June 5, 2009.  Wilma served faithfully alongside her husband, Virgil, during his years of pastoral ministry in Iowa and Michigan and in his ministry as a professor at Grand Rapids Baptist Bible College (now Cornerstone University).  A memorial service was led by MARBC Executive Director Ken Floyd and Pastor Tom Rohrer.

Martin Strolle, 96, entered the presence of his Lord Jesus Christ on Thursday, June 11, 2009.  Martin served the Lord as a missionary church planter with Hiawatha Baptist Missions (now Continental Baptist Missions).  He led several church planting efforts in the Upper Peninsula.  He and his wife, Florence (who went to heaven in 2007) were charter members of Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Escanaba, where the memorial service was held.  Pastor Lewis Hague and Pastor Bruce Nolen officiated the service.  At the memorial service several gave testimonies regarding the Strolles’ influence upon their lives.  One of the funeral directors involved with the service reminisced when the Strolles came to preplan their funerals in 1986.  He was amazed when Martin said, “It will be a glorious day when I die.”  And, indeed, it was!

The Third Annual MARBC Day of “One Accord” Prayer
“They raised their voice to God in one accord” Acts 4:24
September 27, 2009

Purpose:  a day for MARBC churches to devote their attention to prayer for our churches, pastors, state fellowship, camps, ministries, missionaries, and special needs.

Ideas for Participation:

Preach and teach on the topic of prayer in worship services, Sunday School, ABFs, and small groups.  I.e., a study of the Disciple’s Prayer in Matthew 5; prayers recorded in the Bible, the qualities of prayer, hindrances to prayer, etc.

Plan a 24-hour prayer marathon or other prayer event leading up to Sunday.  Materials related to various prayer events are available from the MARBC office.

Join with a sister church or churches in your area for a special prayer service.

Take a moment during the morning worship service to pray for the churches, pastors, camps, missionaries, and ministries of the MARBC.  Pray also for sister churches in your area.  Every church in the MARBC fellowship is encouraged to pause at the 11:00 a.m. hour on September 27 to come before the Lord praying in “one accord.”  While worship and service times vary in our churches, most of our churches are assembled in some ministry setting at the 11:00 a.m. hour.  This would also be a good time for deacons and/or other church members to pray on behalf of their pastors in anticipation of Clergy Appreciation Month in October.

Use the special Day of Prayer to focus upon the ministries of the MARBC.  Bulletin inserts, prayer cards and other literature are available to download here or by contacting the MARBC office.  Some MARBC churches receive a special love offering on behalf of the MARBC.  The MARBC ministry office and Executive Director are supported by the love gifts from churches in the fellowship.

The Ministry of Interpas

One of the important ministries of the MARBC and a vital role of its Executive Director is the assistance of local churches that are seeking a new pastor.  It is important that during this time of special need in a church’s ministry that wise, spiritual counsel is available.

In addition to assistance from the MARBC, our churches can also receive critical assistance from the specialized ministry called Interpas.  This interim pastor ministry was founded by Dr. W. Wilbert Welch in response to the special needs of pastorless churches.  Interpas is an independent organization that has a director and a board of directors that oversees its ministry.  The current Interpas director is Rev. Tom Dolph.

The Interpas purpose statement declares:  “Interpas is an organization of experienced and capable men deeply interested in assisting churches which may need interim pastors.”  Interpas members have served in dozens of MARBC churches providing encouraging ministry.  These interim ministry specialists are committed:

  • To assist local churches in a smooth transition between permanent pastors.
  • To assist the church in making this interval time one of encouragement, enrichment, growth, unity and spiritual health.
  • To provide qualified and tested leadership for a church at a time when it is most needed.
  • To provide for the congregation regular and consistent pulpit and teaching ministries.
  • To provide for the pastor-less church a mature, spiritual leader who is called to an interim ministry and who is not ambitious to become the senior pastor.

Those serving with Interpas must meet the following criteria:

  • A man of God experienced in fruitful church ministries.
  • In complete doctrinal harmony with fundamental doctrines and Baptist distinctives.
  • In agreement with the autonomy of the local church.
  • Possess pastoral skills in teaching and preaching, in working with people who hurt, in conceiving and implementing goals, in working patiently with a volunteer church army and sufficiently pliable so as to mediate differences.
  • Capable of initiating positive and encouraging action while also properly recognizing and working with the staff and the elected officers of the church.

Interpas does not pay the salaries of those men serving in interim capacities. They are recompensed for their specialized ministries and expenses by the churches which they serve on the basis of a clear agreement between the interim pastor and the church.

More detailed information concerning Interpas, including a pamphlet on questions most frequently asked, may be obtained by calling or writing director Tom Dolph (616.874.7056 / Email).


HOUSING OPPORTUNITY:  Pastor Brad and Becky Rickard, Berean Baptist Church, Lansing, are willing to rent two rooms in their home to Christian students from MARBC churches who are planning to attend Michigan State University in East Lansing this fall.  This opportunity could be an alternative for a Christian MSU student that prefers not to live on a secular campus.  The Rickards live approximately 10 miles from the school (15-20 minutes) and can house 2 students this coming fall.  If you are interested in more information, please contact Brad and Becky Rickard, 517.321.2036 or (Email).

FINANCIAL SEMINAR:  Jim Rickard, well respected Biblical stewardship consultant, will present a stewardship seminar for pastors and church leaders on Saturday August 8, 6:00 p.m.  The seminar will be held at Orangeville Baptist Church, 6921 Marsh Rd., Plainwell, MI  49080.  The seminar will deal with stewardship principles, pastors salary package, reporting to the IRS, and establishing a church budget.    Please RSVP to Pastor Dan Bowman (Email) or 269-664-4377.

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