Southern Baptist Churches in Montana and Canadian Baptist Churches in Alberta to Begin Seven-Year Partnership

Lee Merck, church planter in Red Lodge, Mont., addresses a dinner for pastors and wives in the Edmonton, Alberta, area in conjunction with a new partnership between Montana Baptists and Baptists in Canada’s Alberta province. Photo submitted

A seven-year partnership between Southern Baptist churches in Montana and Canadian Baptist churches in Alberta is on track to begin Jan. 1.

Messengers to the Montana Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting will consider the measure Oct. 3-4 that was unanimously approved during the MTSBC executive board’s August meeting.

Gerry Taillon, national ministry leader for the Canadian National Baptist Convention, noted their readiness for the partnership, which had been casually discussed over the years.

“Montana and Alberta share many connecting points in cultural transitions and occupations,” Taillon said. “The proximity and similar size organizations will make this partnership naturally reciprocal.”

Montana has 130 churches, the largest of which has at least 1,000 in Sunday morning worship, most of which run 50 to 70 and the smallest see fewer than a dozen each week. Alberta has 81 churches, the largest of which has at least 350 in Sunday morning worship, most of which run 50 to 70 and the smallest see fewer than 35 each week.

Barrett Duke, who became MTSBC executive director in 2017, said steps toward the partnership began earlier this year. “It grew out of this burden I had that while many of our churches may be small, they can make a difference. I started looking at Alberta. That would be an easy way for our churches to be involved in what essentially is international missions.

“We’re going to be working with our counterpart churches anywhere and everywhere in Alberta that we can,” Duke said.

Duke named Lee Merck as coordinator of the partnership. Merck is the church planting pastor of Church of the Rockies in Red Lodge, Mont.

“Lee has a burden for Canada,” Duke said. “He’s already made several trips there, so I know he really does want to reach people in Canada, and he’s doing a great job at the church in Red Lodge. He’s got the energy and the aggressive ministry style that will be required to coordinate a statewide effort like this.”

Members from Church of the Rockies drove north in August and hosted ribeye steak dinners in Calgary and in Edmonton for Alberta pastors and wives. “He’s already on it,” said Dwight Huffman, the Canadian convention’s regional ministry leader for Alberta, about Merck. “He’s getting it done.”

While no churches in either Alberta or Montana have an official partnership, “Montana has been coming up and helping in Edmonton and Calgary for a couple years,” Huffman said. “This partnership will allow the Montana Southern Baptist Convention [MTSBC] and CNBC [Canadian National Baptist Convention] to advance the Kingdom all across the province.”

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Source: Baptist Press