Standing outside a replica of an 1920s era filling station near the State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Nate Adams muses on the Mother Road that connected Illinoisans for most of the previous century. “Route 66 carried westbound travelers from Chicago all the way to California,” he said. “You can still find historic sites and nostalgia all along the route,” Adams said.
More important today, “that route runs right through Edwardsville, host city to our 2022 IBSA Annual Meeting.”
The annual state convention Nov. 2-3 offers a wealth of reasons to attend. There are opportunities to worship, connect, and learn alongside other Illinois Baptists and a location promising a great local food culture and easy access to downtown St. Louis.
As the premiere annual gathering of the IBSA network of churches, there is no greater opportunity to connect with others who are committed to serving Christ in our unique Illinois culture.
“If you’ve never attended an Annual Meeting this is a great year to come as a messenger or guest for the first time,” IBSA’s Executive Director said.
This year’s meeting builds on the 2021 theme, Thrive. As IBSA works to “inspire each church to thrive in health, growth, and mission,” the emphasis narrows its sights on mission, by continuing the Mission Illinois Offering theme of “Each church a missionary.” With nearly 9 million people in Illinois who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, Illinois is a vast mission field. Yet with more than 900 IBSA churches in Illinois, there is already a great mission force on the mission field. God has placed each church at its address to be a missionary to its local community.
The program will highlight examples of churches thriving as effective missionaries to their communities, along with helping more churches find new ways to be missionaries to their neighborhoods.
Worship will be led by Travis Bowman and the Metro Community Church worship band. Presiding over the meeting, as well as delivering the President’s sermon on Wednesday afternoon, is Heath Tibbetts, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Machesney Park near Rockford.
On Wednesday night Paul Westbrook will bring the convention’s annual sermon. Westbrook, Metro Community Church’s founding pastor, recently retired after 31 years and joined IBSA’s Mission Team as a Director of Church Planting.
Throughout the two-day meeting, messengers and guests will have opportunities to hear how partner ministries are making an impact in Illinois and around the world. In the exhibit hall they can interact with representatives from two dozen ministries to learn new ways to expand their church’s mission and grow as followers of Christ.
The meeting also offers connections for encouragement and growth. With almost a dozen affinity gatherings, pastors and ministry leaders can connect with others like them from across the state, learn from ministry colleagues, and see how IBSA can provide strategy and support. Of course, there are always great conversations that take place over a cup of coffee or a local lunch with old friends or new acquaintances.
Sites and sounds
Metro Community Church will host the annual event, including the Pastors Conference and Ministers’ Wives Luncheon. Founded in 1991, Metro has grown from less than a dozen people meeting in a home to a thriving multi-campus congregation known for its generationally relevant approach to ministry and service to its local community.
Located just off Interstate 55, the church offers easy access. And it’s only minutes from shopping and food districts in Edwardsville, which bills itself as “a foodie kinda town.” The area is perfect for meeting friends for dinner at one of dozens of restaurants to enjoy good conversation over unique local cuisine.
For those looking to experience a little more of what the region has to offer, plan extra time to check out historic Route 66 sites or take the short drive across the Mississippi River to the many tourist attractions in downtown St. Louis.
Visit IBSAannualmeeting.org for information.