Montana Baptist E-News

The Montana Baptist E-News | October 2014


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2.3 Staff Meeting

2.13 Elevate (Bozeman/Missoula)

2.14 Elevate (Miles City/Great Falls)

2.20-21 Winter Blast (Fairmont)

2.24 Staff Meeting


3.2-9 NAMB Emphasis

3.5 Executive Board Meeting (Great Falls)

3.5-6 MPact Montana (Great Falls)

3.20-21 VBS State-wide Training

3.28 Legacy Youth Worker Training


4.5 Easter

4.7 Staff Meeting

4.12 Cooperative Program Sunday

4.17-18 Get Real East (Billings)

4.17 Elevate (Bozeman/Missoula)

4.18 Elevate (Miles City/Great Falls)

4.23-25 Celebration for Women (Great Falls)


5.2-3 TSBA Pastors Retreat

5.13-16 Spring Staff Retreat

5.17 Elevate (Bozeman/Missoula)

5.18 Elevate (Miles City/Great Falls)

5.26 Memorial Day, Office Closed


6.1-3 Summer Missionary Orientation

6.2 Staff Meeting

6.15-17 SBC Annual Meeting


7.2 Independence Day, Office Closed

7.27-28 Send North America

7.27-8.8 Peru Mission Trip


7.27-8.8 Peru Mission Trip

8.4 Staff Meeting

8.10-12 Shepherding the Shepherd


9.6-27 Montana Missions Offering Emphasis

9.1 Staff Meeting

9.7 Labor Day, Office Closed

9.4 Elevate (Bozeman/Missoula)

9.5 Elevate (Miles City/Great Falls

9.15-16 MTSBC Executive Board Meeting

9.29 Staff Meeting


10.6 Pastor's Conference (Bozeman)

10.6 Pastor's Wives Luncheon (Bozeman)

10.6-7 MTSBC Annual Meeting (Bozeman)


11.5 Staff Meeting

11.6 Elevate (Bozeman/Missoula)

11.7 Elevate (Miles City/Great Falls)

11.6-7 Get Real West (Missoula)

11.26-27 Thanksgiving, Office Closed


12.9-10 Winter Staff Retreat

12.10 Christmas Party

12.24-31 Christmas, Office Closed


Set Free Still on Fire for Jesus

Pastor J.T. Coughlan

Pastor J.T. Coughlan of Set Free Ministries.

On Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 12:15 a.m., I was at my home in Belt, and just getting into bed. All of my daughters were home for my youngest daughter, Tennison’s, high school graduation and were still up getting ready for the big day. I could hear them talking as I drifted off to sleep. It felt like I had only closed my eyes for a moment when I heard my youngest daughter in my room saying “Dad, the church is on fire”; it was 1:00 a.m. As soon as I heard “church” my feet hit the floor. My kids told me that my daughter, Lexi, was driving home when a friend of hers called and told her that the building was on fire and flames were coming out of the roof; that is when she called the house. As I was getting dressed to drive the 30 miles into town, I told my wife and daughters there was no use for them to drive into town. I knew they were not listening as all of them were putting their coats on and heading for the car.

Driving into town, I turned on the fire department radio. I am the fire department chaplain, so I often listen to the radio traffic. I heard them calling in the 3rd alarm, meaning all off duty firefighters are asked to return to work to fight the fire. I arrived at #3 6th Street North in Great Falls, Montana and could not believe my eyes. We had just been there a few hours ago for church. The firemen were doing their best to stop the flames. We sat there for about an hour just watching. Finally, I told my wife and daughters that they should go home. They disagreed for a bit, but finally went home.

I stayed and watched until morning, making it home in time to get ready for the graduation. After graduation, I went back into Great Falls to see if there were any changes on the building. Monday morning, the building was still smoldering. I stood there watching, realizing how many miracles there were despite all the destruction. Most importantly, the in-house ministry boys who were living in the building at the time got out safely. Many other miracles were evident as we were finally able to enter the building safely. First, my oldest daughter, Skye, and my Mom’s things were untouched on the 4th floor, and my wife’s sheet music was a little smoky, but untouched by flame or water. Another miracle was a downtown bar opened their doors to us so we would be able to give out food, and numerous churches offered their buildings to us so we could continue to hold our services. Pastor David Booth with Heartland Baptist let us hold our first post-fire service in his church. Then Pastor John Duckworth with 1st Baptist let us use his church the following Saturday. We were there every Saturday night for the next 5 years. We were also able to find a semi-permanent home downtown for our food ministry, clothing room, and offices for those same 5 years. In amongst all this chaos, we never missed a single day of ministry out on the street.

In order to rebuild the Rocky Mountain Building we needed to raise a lot of money, so we had a few fund raisers. The first one was Riding 4 a Miracle. Myself, along with the help and support from friends from different states, rode a bicycle across the state of Montana, starting in Superior and riding to Miles City: a total of 550 miles, all in 6 ½ days. Some friends rode the entire way, giving me encouragement, and others participated in various stages.

After Riding 4 a Miracle, I traveled to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to look into different ways to use the Rocky Mountain Building to better help our community. I went to several different companies and found many useful things that would benefit our community like art classes, cooking classes, a greenhouse that also doubles as a habitat for tilapia, and many other class type settings that would get people off the street and help them get a job that they had a skill set for.

Our next fund raiser was Riding 4 a Miracle II. I was a little smarter with this ride and decided to ride my motorcycle instead of a bicycle. I, along with my daughter Callie, and 7 other guys, rode our motorcycles from Seattle, Washington to Key West, Florida in 7 days. Even though we raised a lot of money with our two major fund raisers, it was not enough to even put a roof on the Rocky Mountain Building. It was obvious that unless there was a divine intervention we would never have the finances to put the Rocky Mountain Building back together again. So, we continued to pray that God would reveal to us where we should be and we started looking at other buildings.

We made an offer to sell the building to a corporation located in Montana. They accepted our buy/sell offer which was the beginning of long and time consuming negotiations. On June 28, 2013, we officially closed on the Rocky Mountain Building and turned over the keys.

Throughout this whole adventure, a member of our church, Bill, said he was not going to shave his mustache until we sold or rebuilt the Rocky Mountain Building. I cannot remember exactly the time frame, but he grew his mustache for at least two and half years. When I finally announced we had sold the building, the Saturday night after the closing date, we celebrated in church by shaving off his very long mustache. Bill runs our food ministry, which runs 7 days a week. On one of his regular stops, a lady who sees him weekly asked him why he had shaved. He shared with her the story of why he had been growing his mustache and told her we had sold the Rocky Mountain Building and were in the process of looking for a new home. She told him that we needed to talk to her Dad about the Fairview Baptist Building.

After looking into it and conversing with the leaders of Fairview Baptist, we started the long process of buying the building. We first made our offer, then needed to wait for their congregation to vote on the sale, and finally settled on a closing date. After almost a year of negotiating and waiting, July 1, 2014, Set Free Ministries became the owner of 216 9th Street North Great Falls, Montana. Praise God, we were blessed with a new home!

What a wild and adventurous journey it has been! After over 5 years we now have a base of operation again. We always say the building is not the church, the people are. For over 5 years we were able to prove that fact. We were able to continue our ministry and were abundantly blessed by the generosity of our community, but we are so thankful to be under one roof again, serving the people out on the streets. All the change that has taken places during the past 5 years, buildings, people, ministries, etc. has been a challenge and faith growing experience. This was obviously not part of my plan, but I can see God’s hand of provision in all of it and I am thankful that His ways are better than my own! “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11.

So as we continue our adventure, be blessed and stay fired for Jesus!


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2014 Annual Meeting Highlights

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, challenged pastors to maintain urgency in their mission.

Montana Southern Baptists gathered in Billings this month for the 2014 MTSBC Pastor's Conference and Annual Meeting, with the theme Knowing Our Mission. The Annual Meeting was held at Yellowstone Christian College, one of the many ministries supported by Montana Southern Baptist churches.

Attendees at this year's meeting were privileged to hear from two engaging keynote speakers: Dr. Ronnie Floyd, President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Senior Pastor at Cross Church (Springdale, Arkansas), and Dr. Jeff Iorg, President of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

Members of the MTSBC Church Starting Team stand in front of the MTSBC Family Tree. (left to right) Eddie Smith, Jeannie Hayes, Steve Fowler, Michael Liner, Darren Hales, Sam Birky, William Johnson.

Dr. Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, addresses the crowd with his message titled 'Mission Matters Most.'

Montana pastors gathered together to tell stories and share some laughs at the 2014 Annual Meeting.

Dave Howeth (left) of the IMB and William Johnson (right), MTSBC Church Starting team leader, inspect the new MTSBC Family Tree.

Dr. Floyd spoke during the first session and challenged pastors' urgency in his message titled What Time Is It. "Do your churches here in Montana ever get a little sleepy... a little apathetic?", Floyd asked. "Tonight we need to wake up from our sleep."

He continued, "In this day and time in which we live we don't need to be playing it safe... no, this is a moment when we need to be believing in God for the impossible. When we need to be seeing that which man says 'that cannot be done' but expecting a God who can do anything at anytime with anyone, including you."

Dr. Jeff Iorg spoke on the need to stay on mission, in his message titled Mission Matters Most. Coincidentally, Dr. Iorg's message reflected similar principles that MTSBC executive director Fred Hewett spoke on during his address: how to avoid mission drift. "The hardest responsibility of every senior leader is keeping the organization riveted on the mission", Iorg said. He explained that even good things should not be substituted for the task that the church is primarily responsible for - to proclaim Christ (Philippians 1:18).

In addition to the two keynote speakers, the MTSBC president (Bruce Speer), vice president (Steve Young), and state executive director (Fred Hewett) delivered messages of their own to challenge and encourage Montana Southern Baptist pastors, with The Gospel Truth Bluegrass Band and Mark Langley leading worship. You can watch all of the messages from this year's Annual Meeting, including those from Dr. Ronnie Floyd and Dr. Jeff Iorg, at, or select from the list below.

  • Steve Young "Are We Loving People to Jesus?"
  • Fred Hewett "The Great Commission"
  • Bruce Speer "When God Throws a Party"
  • Ronnie Floyd "What Time Is It?"
  • Jeff Iorg "Mission Matters Most"

  • Convention business included the adoption of the 2015 budget, the re-election of MTSBC president Bruce Speer (Cross Point Community Church, Missoula) and vice president Steve young (South Hills Baptist Church, Montana City), and the election of next year's Annual Meeting officers.

    Long-time church planting missionary Sam Birky was honored for his years of service in Montana, celebrating his retirement. At a reception following the Annual Meeting, friends of Sam and Susan Birky shared memories with the crowd.

    The 2015 Annual Meeting is scheduled to take place on October 6-7 in Bozeman.


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    Dr. Jeff Iorg: Golden Gate Seminary


    More 2014 Annual Meeting Photo


    2014 Annual Church Profile

    The Montana Souther Baptist Convention

    MTSBC pastors are asked to complete the Annual Church Profile (ACP) by filling out the document online or mailing it in. Churches should have received the ACP form in the mail in early September.

    “By participating in the ACP report, Montana churches can affect how the SBC allocates its resources by providing more accurate information regarding trends here in the West. In essence, the ACP helps us and the SBC be a better steward of resources,” said Fred Hewett, MTSBC Executive Director.

    Please submit your church’s ACP information today. You may contact Jeannie Hayes ( or 406-252-7537) if you need assistance.

    Go here for directions on filing your ACP


    Sam and Susan Birky Retirement

    The Montana Souther Baptist Convention

    Current photo of Sam Birky, MTSBC Church Planting Missionary.

    Sam Birky, Church Starting Missionary with the Montana Southern Baptist Convention, is retiring at the end of 2014 after serving with the Home Mission Board/North American Mission Board for 28 years. Sam has held many positions in ministry during this time including Director of Missions of the former Glacier Association and Church Planting Catalyst with the MTSBC since 2002. Sam has also been an interim pastor, mentor, and chaplain.

    Sam has a strong calling and passion to minister to military veterans and their families. Over 11% of Montana residents are veterans. There are many opportunities to minister to these men and women and Sam is engaging and developing ministries that are meeting specific needs in the lives of our Montana veterans.

    Sam and Susan Birky being honored at the 2014 Annual Meeting.

    Sam and Susan Birky recieve gifts for their years of service in Montana.

    Archive photo of Sam during his military service.

    Sam and Susan Birky.

    Sam has spent this past year developing specific ministries that will enable him and others to better reach veterans and their families with the gospel. Some of these ministries include developing fellowship meetings in various regions such as Kalispell, Missoula, and Polson. Sam is also serving as a chaplain with the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Northwest Veterans Food Pantry.

    A new facet of military ministry that Sam is developing is an online ministry known as Spirit Warrior Fellowship. This is a nationwide ministry where veterans can connect through a website, Facebook, and emails.

    Sam has and continues to be a great encouragement to many pastors in Montana. His knowledge of reaching veterans is also helpful to our pastor and planters in reaching people in their communities.

    Sam and Susan were honored at the conclusion of the MTSBC annual meeting. MTSBC Executive Director/Treasure Dr. Fred Hewett, NAMB Send City Coordinator Dave Howeth, and MTSBC Church Starting Team Leader William Johnson all spoke to the years of service of Sam and Susan as well as stories of about the influence of their lives on others. There was a reception held in their honor so all those attending could visit with the Birkys and wish them well on their retirement.

    To honor Sam and Susan for their many years of faithful service, the MTSBC is hosting a retirement reception on Saturday, November 1, at the Best Western Inn in Polson starting at 3:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend the reception. Please email Breeanna Jones at if you plan to attend. Food and refreshments will be served.


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    Chuck and Beverly Morrison

    On Mission in Montana

    Montana Southern Baptist Convention

    There is a new MTSBC missionary in the Mission Valley. Dr. Chuck Morrison moved onto the mission field of the Flathead Indian Reservation in June. A career educator from Arizona, Chuck has now refocused his ministry toward church starting. He and his wife, Beverly, have had a connection with St. Ignatius (aka “Mission” to the locals) for several years. Bev’s mother, Leah, retired to the area in 2004. The Morrisons have been visiting the area for many years and have fallen in love with the place and the people. Chuck is burdened to share the Great News with those that call the Mission Valley home and see a new congregation be birthed to serve and reach their neighbors. GracePointe Church of Goodyear, AZ is their sending church and they have some wonderful partners who are praying and planning to come and assist them in this new work where the mercury seldom reaches triple digits.

    Chuck has been busy getting to know his neighbors and the community. Old Timers Restaurant and the Good Old Days festival in July speak of looking back to a positive heritage and Chuck wants to be part of a positive future in this area of beauty and diversity. In the shadow of the majestic Mission Mountains Amish live alongside the airport and Native Americans live down the road from German Baptists. People from across the country and around the world visit the area to visit and worship at the historic mission and to make their way north to Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park while many of the locals live under the poverty level and struggle with domestic issues. Chuck is finding out that people do gather on Sundays, but they might well be at the local diner rather than at the historic Catholic mission for mass.

    Chuck has met some special folks already. Soon after they arrived this summer the Morrisons received a special welcome and gift from a local restaurant owner when they came to dine on the 25th Anniversary of the restaurant’s opening. Chuck and the local medical doctor judged desserts at an annual community gathering. The local NAPA dealer also owns a motel and the two have discussed housing for summer mission volunteers. Meeting local banking employees, wait staff in the restaurants, and Amish neighbors has given Chuck opportunities to demonstrate God’s love for people by establishing new relationships in St. Ignatius.

    Bev is wrapping up her career as an educator too, as well as following through with some important medical treatments in Arizona this fall. She is looking forward to moving to the Mission Valley this winter, not just visiting. Please pray for Chuck and Bev as they transition in life, finish moving, and establish new ministry on a new mission field. Please join in the chorus of prayer for Mission Valley Ministries as they join the efforts to bring the beautiful salvation story of Christ Jesus to the gorgeous Mission Valley of Montana.


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    NAMB Pastoral Care Line

    North American Mission Board

    The daily stress and pressure of serving as a Pastor and/or Planter are frequently brought to the attention of the North American Mission Board staff. Research verifies that over time these daily pressures take their toll on Pastors, causing discouragement, frustration and even clinical depression. We hope to help alleviate this stress for our Pastors.

    In response to this need, NAMB has entered into a ministerial partnership with Focus on the Family’s Family Help Center to provide a dedicated Pastor Care Line for all SBC Pastors. The dedicated line is 1-844-Pastor1 or (1-844-727-8671). It will launch on October 1, 2014. The dedicated line will be completely secure and confidential. Neither NAMB nor the pastor’s church will ever be given the name of any Pastor calling the Pastor Care Line.

    NAMB understands that Pastors are not immune to the issues that plague people in our fallen world. We desire to enhance our support for SBC Pastors through a Care Line that will provide professional-level and biblically sound guidance regarding personal and family issues Pastors may find themselves dealing with from time to time.

    Through their Family Help Center, Focus on the Family has provided a Pastors Care Line for hurting Pastors since 1992. The Family Help Center is configured to handle all inbound phone calls with a live-answer employee/agent who discerns the specific needs of each caller, and then provides appropriate help in various forms. Based on the pastor’s need, additional support may be provided as deemed necessary by the trained chaplains and counselors on Focus’ staff. Focus on the Family is an excellent ministerial partner for NAMB and we are both excited to minister to Pastors in this special way.

    Beginning September 23, NAMB will begin marketing the availability of its Pastor Care Line to generate calls for Beta Testing the line through September 30. We will use the accompanying graphic to market the campaign.


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    Baptist Press

    A Call to Prayer

    Ralph Tone, Baptist Press

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is part of the call to prayer issued by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, to pray for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world.

    PHOENIX (BP) -- A lot of us remember the story of Daniel in the lion's den as a great Sunday School lesson for kids. And it is!

    But did you know that Daniel was about 80 years old when he was tossed to the lions? Eighty years old.

    Daniel is not just an example for children. He is also an inspiration for all of us older folks who long to "finish the race" well, as the Apostle Paul would say.

    Here are three truths from Daniel in the lion's den that will help us cross the finish line with a strong stride -– no matter what our age! Daniel the octogenarian glorified God by:

    1. Maintaining a robust prayer life. Why was Daniel thrown to the lions anyway? Because he was a man of prayer. His crime? He refused to pray to the state-sanctioned idol. Instead, he went into his prayer closet and lifted his voice to God. The winds of political correctness never altered his devotion to God. Daniel, the 80-something prophet, made prayer a daily priority.

    When we were missionaries, we had a prayer supporter named Marge. Marge was an elderly woman who lived in Vermont. She had limited mobility and an unlimited desire to serve the Lord. Her ministry tools consisted of two baskets. One was empty and the other was filled with more than 100 photographs. Each photo was of a missionary serving God in a foreign field.

    Her ministry began the same way every day. The basket to the right of her chair was filled with pictures and the basket on her left was empty.

    Marge would take a missionary family in her hands, lift it up in intercession and, when done, gently place it in the empty basket. One by one she would pray through the entire stack of photos until the basket that was once empty was full. Her intercession was constantly sharpened by the hundreds of prayer letters she received from her missionaries.

    It is a wonderful thing to observe the wordless testimony of a seasoned soul with uplifted hands and a gaze toward heaven.

    2. Resisting the world through prayer. Daniel knew better than anyone that his prayerful civil disobedience would lead to his death. He was a high-ranking politician, after all. Yet he chose to prostrate himself before God rather than an idol. And his radical faith was richly rewarded. God miraculously delivered Daniel from the Persian lion's den, just as he had miraculously delivered his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, from the Babylonian fiery furnace.

    Theologian David Wells says that petitionary prayer is, "in essence, rebellion -- rebellion against the world in its fallenness, the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is pervasively abnormal. It is, in this its negative aspect, the refusal of every agenda, every scheme, every interpretation that is at odds with the norm as originally established by God."

    It is a wonderful thing to observe a mature believer, a witness to history and a long observer of lost men and their perverse ways praying, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

    3. Developing an unassailable character through prayer. A lot of mistakes can accumulate during eight decades of life. For many, there are enough skeletons to fill a walk-in closet. But this was not the case in Daniel's life. Even his enemies "could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent" (Daniel 6:4b). This is all the more amazing considering that Daniel was a politician, surrounded by politicians who devoted themselves to digging up dirt on Daniel.

    Undoubtedly, Daniel's devotion to plumbing the depths of God on his knees enabled him to stand on his feet with an unassailable character. Jesus said, "But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:6).

    It is a wonderful thing to observe a senior saint's weighty wisdom that flows from a well-worn path to the fount of secret prayer.

    It has been said that in the kingdom of God there is neither retirement nor unemployment. This is especially true in the realm of prayer. Though the passage of time may erode our physical strength, it must stoke our spirit even more to prayer, especially as the day of Christ's return draws near.

    Won't you join me in praying the prayer that has been on my heart lately? "Lord, may my latter years be more fruitful than the first. Amen."