Mayor Steve Van Oort welcomed messengers from Baptist churches across the country during the opening session of the 76th Annual Conference of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, a conference which was recently moved to Ankeny due to flooding at the original Cedar Rapids site.

“Welcome to Iowa. God has put you here for a purpose,” Van Oort said. “I pray that God will bless you while you are here in Ankeny.”

The participants represent 1,350 churches in 46 states. Because the fellowshipping churches have no denominational hierarchy, the annual meetings tend to emphasize preaching, practical workshops, and social gatherings. This year’s conference takes its theme from Galatians 6:14, “The Glory of the Cross.” Several groups meet prior to the conference, including the GARBC Council of Eighteen and the Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries.

“All of the problem of sin—the curse, the penalty, the guilt, everything that goes with it—is carried by the one who comes to our aid and delivers us,” said Dr. Greening during his opening sermon from Hebrews 2:10—18. “There is one who comes to our aid and delivers us, and there is help for the problem of suffering.”

Earlier in the day, Ariel Abadiano taught a seminar outlining a strategy for emphasizing the Great Commission in church ministries. Using passionate teaching and multimedia presentations, he instructed participants to “Go, Guard God’s Global Glory !”

“A Christian should have two books,” said Abadiano, “A Bible and a passport.”