WARWICK, R.I. — Members of Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church in Dallas view the needs of New England Baptists as great. So is the congregation’s commitment to help meet those needs.
Members of Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church recently signed a partnership agreement with the Greater Boston Baptist Association and the Southeastern New England Baptist Association, committing to provide financial and ministerial assistance to the churches in these two associations, and it states a reciprocal agreement from the Greater Boston and Southeastern New England Baptist Associations to provide “housing, meals, and other resources” to visiting ministry teams as financially possible.
By the time the agreement was signed this month, after five Shiloh Terrace representatives took a five-day prayer walking tour of churches and communities in the two New England associations, their personal commitment was clear.
“We saw it as an opportunity for our church to be a resource,” said Cecil Deadman, member of Shiloh Terrace and church staff/committee resource specialist of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
After a preliminary vision trip to the northeast in February facilitated by the Texas Partnerships Office of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Deadman saw and felt the need for aid among Baptist churches in New England.
The BGCT has been part of the Impact Northeast partnership with New England since 2001, and Texas Baptists statewide help to support Texas Partnerships through their gifts to the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions.
“There are churches virtually everywhere, but they’re basically empty on Sunday,” Deadman said. “They’re just kind of existing.”
The associations in the northeast expressed struggles openly to Deadman, and he said he felt motivated to take action.
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Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church members Jerry Allen, Danny Francis and Mac and Peggy Bolton traveled with Deadman to meet leaders from the two New England Baptist associations, talk to pastors and church members of congregations affiliated with the associations and prayer walk through the churches’ communities. The Dallas team visited Providence, Putnam, Conn., Northborough, Mass. and two locations on Cape Cod.
Traveling in person and touring the areas covered by the partnership made prayer efforts tangible for Shiloh Terrace representatives. Following conversations with pastors of area churches, the Texas group went out on the streets to pray over specific places—such as schools and new residential developments—that pastors hoped to reach.
The Texans participated with pastors Mike Beckman of Hope Chapel Baptist Church, Mike Alford of Mid Cape Baptist Church and other volunteers from churches and the Baptist Convention of New England in a prayerwalk practicum on Saturday morning, led by Randy Sprinkle, the New England convention’s director of transformational leadership. Sprinkle taught about prayer walking, its practice and its potential effects, then passed out maps for participants to apply what they’d learned.
Prayerwalking “is not an activity, it’s not an event; it’s on site, active spiritual struggle,” Sprinkle said. God “leads us into prepared places.”
Prayers throughout the weekend concerned different struggles specific to each community. Church plants in each association aim to reach unchurched people, as well as those currently attending non-Christian places of worship.
“We have a huge occult presence here on the Cape,” Beckman said.
Leaders also presented concerns about the area’s evangelistic poverty, despite the large number of churches present. Several pastors desire that their churches become “community churches” intent on reaching neighborhood residents.
For any revival to take place, church members in New England will have to take the lead. Through the new partnership, Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church will have the opportunity “to participate in something that has eternal benefits,” Deadman noted.
The partnership anticipates the monumental challenge facing church plants in New England, and in the agreement Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church commits to providing “leadership, encouragement and training” to these churches “as practical and financially feasible.”
Church pastors and the associations’ missions directors, Al Riddley and Rafael Hernandez) were visibly encouraged by the Texans’ visit.
“It tells our people that what’s happening here … is an important part of God’s kingdom plan,” Beckman said. “It helps people to have a greater vision.”
The Baptist General Convention of Texas currently has a ministry relationship with Baptists in New England through the Impact Northeast Partnership. For more information about mission opportunities in the region, contact Steve Seaberry at (888) 244-9400.