Rebuilding a State Fellowship

by Wayne Guinn

It’s been exciting to work with the Iowa state fellowship and their refocus on church planting. Vernell Lott, who recently complet­ed the NCPO Church Planting School, is birthing a church in Des Moines. This is Iowa’s first attempt to plant a church in Des Moines’ black community. We have also co-sponsored a restart of Bethel Bap­tist Church in Carroll, Iowa, under the leadership of Pastor Randy Abell and the state fellowship. That work is progressing very well and we look forward to featuring this work in a future article.

Randy Abell, who oversees church planting for the state fellow­ship and whose church is a 2004 church plant of the Iowa Fellowship, writes:

While the Iowa BBF has around a dozen participating pastors, it is a good example of how a state can pick up the pieces from past prob­lems and begin to get something done for Christ. The Iowa BBF, like many other states, encountered problems around 10 years ago, losing many of their participating churches and causing a vacuum both in leadership, finances, and direction in planting more churches.

But those pastors who remained determined to reorganize, refit, and refinance their efforts are seeing the fruit of that now. They have been part of six church plants over the last six years, with five of the six doing well. They’ve helped church plants in Spencer, Urbandale, Oma­ha (Nebraska), and two in Des Moines. They also have given assis­tance to smaller churches that are struggling in their state, either due to the economy or to the lack of pastoral leadership. Partnering with the NCPO has been an added strength in accomplishing our goals.

Over the last decade, each of the last three state chairman, Phil Griffith (Ottumwa), Mark Carter (Des Moines), and Ed Matthews (Ottumwa), have worked hard to reorganize the state fellowship to make it the spiritually-healthy organization that it is today. They rewrote their constitution to give more flexibility in decisions, they send out a monthly informative newsletter to over 100 churches in the area, and they have raised and organized their finances to be able to help when needed and to finance church planters.

The state of Iowa has many cities and towns in desperate need of a Baptist church, and the Iowa BBF would love to hear from you! Please visit and may God bless the Baptist Bible Fellowship!