New Life Baptist Church was planted with the help of a well-coordinated network: a church-planting missionary from the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, funds from Baptist Church Planters, and budget support from several churches in fellowship with the GARBC. Such efforts are not new—our Association has had happy and fruitful partnerships with many church-planting organizations over the years.
The Fellowship of Baptists for Home Missions was founded in 1941 during a gathering at First Baptist Church, Elyria, Ohio. By 1950, three other church-planting groups had merged with FBHM: Montana Baptist Fellowship, Western Baptist Missions, and the West Virginia Fundamental Baptist Association. The FBHM merged with Galilean Baptist Missions in 1985 and became known as Baptist Mission of North America. The BMNA was responsible for planting over 600 Baptist churches in the U.S.—at least 500 of these churches fellowship with the GARBC.
The Hiawatha Land Independent Baptist Mission was organized in 1942, when five missionaries withdrew from the American Baptist Home Mission Society and formed a new organization named for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem describing the Lake Superior region of northern Michigan. Today this organization is known as Continental Baptist Missions; it continues to partner with many GARBC churches who support efforts such as the urban Chicago church plant profiled in the Baptist Bulletin (May/June 2008).
The GARBC also partners with international mission agencies that continue to support church-planting missionaries in the U.S.; these include Baptist Mid-Missions, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, and Evangelical Baptist Missions. Many of their ministries in the U.S. are devoted to Hispanic, Latino, American Indian, and African-American groups. And their “church-planting” efforts in the U.S. increasingly involve training international students who return to their own countries to plant churches.
Many state organizations partner with local churches for church planting. For instance, Next Town Evangelism is organized by the Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches, and the Nebraska Association of Regular Baptist Churches currently has three church plants (with a fourth one starting this fall). The Northwest Baptist Home Mission is the missionary agency of many GARBC churches in the Pacific Northwest, currently planting eleven churches in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.