Seventh Day Baptists 'triumphant' in Kansas
By Mac Overton
JANESVILLE, Wis.-"Hundreds of Seventh Day Baptists came tuned in to the 1997 general conference in Lindsborg, Kan., got turned on during the uplifting sessions and left triumphant to lead positive Christian lives in their home churches," said Kevin Butler, Seventh Day Baptist director of communications at the SDB office here.
The SDBs, which trace their origin to the 1650s and the Reformation in England, are considered by many scholars to be a precursor of the Church of God (Seventh Day) and therefore of the Worldwide Church of God and its offshoots.
The first SDB church in America was established in Newport, R.I., in 1671. Churches gradually spread across the country, and in 1801 members formed a general conference.
"SDB president Owen Probasco's theme of 'Tuned In, Turned On and Triumphant' seemed prophetic," said Mr. Butler. "Right from his get-go opening on Sunday night [Aug. 3] to his passing of the gavel on Sabbath, Aug. 9, President Probasco [from Shiloh, N.J.] provided smooth and confident leadership throughout the week."
Five hundred eight SDB members registered during the conference, including 317 delegates representing 53 of 85 SDB congregations in the United States and Canada. This included 61 pastors and one seminary student. The number also include two delegates from SDB conferences in Australia and Central Africa.
John Bevis of Paint Rock, Ala., took office as president for 1997-98, with Norma Rudert of White Cloud, Mich., named president-elect. Mrs. Rudert and Herlitz Condison were elected to the church's general council, Mr. Butler said.
During the conference the Outreach Bible Church Baptist of the Seventh Day of Portage, Wis., was accepted into full SDB membership.
The approved church budget of $823,920 calls for $356,502 to come from current donations. This represents a slight increase over 1997, Mr. Butler said.
Among recommendations to the general conference from committees were these:
The committee on national missions "discussed the recent exodus of members from the Worldwide Church of God and recognizes that some of these people may contact Seventh Day Baptist churches," Mr. Butler reported.
"In the past we have seen members of other denominations seek fellowship with our churches. The committee feels it is important to know what these people have been taught in their previous denominations and that pastors need tools in understanding and reaching out to these people."
The committee suggested that a seminar be presented next year at the conference on how Seventh Day Baptists can minister to people moving from other churches, including members of the Worldwide Church of God, Seventh-day Adventists and Mormons.
"In the meantime, we urge churches to consider having a seminar such as this in their church or association," Mr. Butler said.
The next SDB general conference is scheduled West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W.Va., July 26 through Aug. 1, 1998.
For more information about the Seventh Day Baptist Church, write: SBD U.S.A. and Canada, 3120 Kennedy Rd., Janesville, Wis. 53547.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God