By Karen Willoughby- Baptist Press
SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. (BP) – The Cooperative Program is neither a “sacred cow” nor the only way to support missions. Rather, it’s the best way to financially provide for Kingdom-building missions, say members of Goshen Baptist Church, who will celebrate the church’s 150th anniversary next year.
The Cooperative Program is the way Southern Baptist churches partner to tell people worldwide that God loves them individually and unconditionally. CP dollars help train men and women for ministry at the SBC’s six seminaries, then support them as they plant churches and train others to reach people with the Gospel in North America and throughout the world.
“We know what the Cooperative Program does and we have had a part in it,” longtime member Wade Haney, 93, said. “Giving to the Cooperative Program gives us an awareness that we’re part of what God is doing around the world, and that’s what Christianity is all about.”
At least two pastors have gone on from Goshen Baptist to serve as career missionaries with the International Mission Board, and another became a Journeyman (the IMB’s two-year program).
“Goshen has always been a good solid church,” said Rob Moor, who with his wife Lisa left Goshen after seven years in 1989 to serve in church planting in Tanzania with the IMB.
“Members and church leadership 35 years ago took on a role to help young pastors mature and grow in the ministry. At the same time they stressed the importance of our Southern Baptist heritage in Cooperative Program giving and the importance of outwardly focused ministry and missions.
“I believe with Adam’s call to Goshen, the church is getting back to that passion for ministry and reaching people for Christ. It’s exciting to see a church calling a young guy and following his leadership.”
“Adam” is Adam Blosser, who became pastor at Goshen five years ago. Blosser said Goshen Baptist’s faithful CP giving wasn’t the only reason he knew God was calling him to the church, but it helped. Goshen has given at least 10 percent to missions through the Cooperative Program since as far back as anyone can remember.
“The Cooperative Program is important to me,” said Blosser, who earned an M.Div. degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014 and is working on a D.Min. degree from there. “It’s important to me that our church help make it possible for others to study for ministry as well.
“Another reason is that we believe in the work of our state convention – SBC of Virginia – and we believe in the work of our Southern Baptist entities, especially the IMB and NAMB. I believe the International Mission Board is the best way for churches to pool their resources to send missionaries overseas, and the North American Mission Board is the best way to plant churches in North America.”
Goshen Baptist has been ministering to its community since it was a rural congregation in the rolling green hills of Virginia, which are now giving way to urban sprawl.
“We’re an hour south of Washington, D.C., and an hour north of Richmond,” Blosser said. “The church has been learning and continues to learn how to be a church in this growing area.”
Soon after he arrived as pastor, Blosser visited with the principal at nearby Spotsylvania Elementary School and discussed how the church could assist the school. What started as providing weekend meals in bags for as many as 40 youngsters has expanded to mentoring opportunities led by church volunteers at the school’s weekday breakfasts and lunches “to let the students know someone loves them and cares about them,” the pastor said.
“The Lord has given us other opportunities to minister to the teachers, by showing appreciation and letting them know we care,” he said. “We’ve been able to build a good relationship with the school and are hoping at some point to have a Good News Club.”
During the pandemic, the church took food to doctors, nurses and staff at a local hospital and provided coffee gift cards as a way to show their appreciation for what the medical professionals were doing.
“We haven’t seen any direct response from that,” Blosser said. “But more and more I hear people in the community talking about something they’ve heard, that we’re a church that loves the community and serves the community. That’s what we’re trying to do, to be.”
Goshen Baptist also is involved with Impact Church of Fredericksburg, a church plant in nearby Fredericksburg, Va., where Brandon Hembree is the planter. Goshen Baptist helps financially as well as by letting Impact use its building for the core group’s pre-launch gatherings. This is at least the fourth local church Goshen Baptist has helped start.
“We want to be involved in planting churches locally,” Blosser said. “The population continues to increase and that’s why the need for new churches.”
Goshen Baptist members went to Kenya on a mission trip in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed plans last year to return to Africa to develop a mission partnership with IMB partners.
“Now that restrictions are lifted we’re hoping to resume our plans,” the pastor said. Those plans include his providing theological education for national pastors while other members of the mission team utilize their gifts in a variety of ministries.
About 100 people gather for Sunday morning worship at Goshen Baptist. In addition to the 10 percent of undesignated offerings given to missions through the CP and ongoing support for the Impact Church plant, the amounts given to missions through Southern Baptists’ international, North American and state channels continue to increase, the pastor said.
“The first book of the Bible I preached through when I came here was the book of Acts,” Blosser said, adding that a transitional pastor had paved the way for new thinking about the purpose of the church. “They knew we needed to reach outside our walls. We want to be a church involved in what God is doing in Spotsylvania and to the ends of the earth.”
To prepare for the 150th anniversary celebration next April, members are working together to tell the church’s story over the last century-and-a-half, and to chart a course for the next several years, the pastor said. Records now are incomplete, but by next April, the church’s history will show a clear picture of the number of missionaries and pastors the church has sent out, and the number of churches it has helped start, the pastor said.
“Our most important task is working together to seek the Lord and develop a vision for the next five years,” Blosser said. “We have learned over 16 months of COVID that God is faithful. Sometimes life is challenging, but God is always faithful. He is worthy of our confidence and trust.”