Okoboji Bible Conference Ministries provides services, events, and facilities. The greater purpose, however, is to stand among churches and Christian non-profits to introduce, to invite the laying aside of fears and stereotypes, and to partner more effectively. In other words, OBCM seeks to be catalytic, at its best when invisible. It exists, neither to promote or perpetuate itself, but rather to activate all to be better together to accomplish as much good as possible. Though specifically Christian, OBCM expresses that faith by encouraging broad cooperation to yield bigger results. In that process, the love of Christ is released.
OBCM, historically known as the Okoboji Lakes Bible & Missionary Conference, is more than a temporary annual summer event. OBCM expresses core Christian values of the conference, but does so year-round, in service to Iowa’s Lakes region and beyond.
The corporate charter of OBCM, originally formulated in 1946, indicates that besides convening the annual summer conference, the purpose of the non-profit corporation is the promotion of “the work of the Church of Christ and to provide for the interdenominational education, training, encouragement, [and] support of believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ” consistent with the purposes of a charitable organization.
To cultivate organic partnerships for effective church and community cooperation towards local, regional, and global Christian compassion and influence.
To serve individuals, churches, and non-profits to maximize the strengths of each for the greater effectiveness of all in local and global Christian service.
• Partnership: Organic partnership with churches and other non-profits in answer to Christ’s prayer for the unity of His body
• Our Region: The Iowa Lakes Region, networking for the good of Dickinson County and beyond
• Mission: Global mission, serving human need and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ
• Health: The health of individuals, families, churches, and governments as God-given institutions for society’s best
None of the priorities of OBCM stand alone. They support one another. Area families and churches are supported by both prayers and projects. Prayer reaches well beyond the limits of the Lakes Area, touching heaven on behalf of peoples and nations. Churches are connected in mission sometimes under the OBCM label, sometimes another, but always living out the vision of OBCM under any name.
Prayer…The first priority of OBCM is prayer. Christians intersect deeply, but too rarely, through prayer. OBCM has made prayer its first priority because of the words of Jesus in John 15:5, “apart from me you can do nothing.” A theme of OBCM over the decades was found in Zechariah 4:6: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.” With that understanding, OBCM engages events and initiatives to prompt Christian agreement in prayer in the belief that God hears and answers, and we join Him in the accomplishment of “infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Family…OBCM encourages strong families. That begins with strengthening individuals of all ages from the inside out. This is currently lived out most obviously through counseling and support ministries. OBCM also partners with other area non-profits to offer a relationship, instruction, and events for teens, young adults, pre-marrieds, and marrieds. OBCM has always been a family place emphasizing the importance of valued spiritual traditions in building healthy generations under God.
Church…OBCM is not a church and is clearly chartered to never become a church. It serves to help the church be better together by convening gatherings where leaders and congregants, otherwise isolated in denominations and traditions, will find the delights of the rich breadth and depth of God’s people, the Church. There may be areas where churches will not agree, but virtually all can agree to actively love cities, regions and the world through missional Christian cooperation. Psalm 133 promises that “It is good and pleasant when God’s people live together in peace! There the Lord gives his blessing of life forever.”
Mission…OBCM is not a mission agency in the sense of retaining or sending full-time, cross-cultural Christian workers. It is, however, a missional agency, assisting in mobilizing persons from Northwest Iowa to grasp opportunities for international short-term mission trips, local service projects, and the funding of various global initiatives. With local partners, OBCM has raised $22,000 to provide bicycles for medical and educational purposes in Zambia, Africa through World Bicycle Relief, more than $12,000 to purchase adequate housing for half a dozen families in earthquake-ravaged Haiti and provided on-campus, seasonal housing for a number of international students working in the Iowa Great Lakes region.
BOARD AND STAFF LEADERSHIP
OBCM is governed by the board of directors of the 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, the Okoboji Bible Conference Ministries. Facilities and administrative support are shared with the Conference.
Rick leads OBCM and oversees the Bible Conference as Executive Director. He resides with his wife, Dianne, in Spirit Lake, Iowa. A graduate of Bethel Seminary, Rick served pastorates in Florida, Washington State and British Columbia, Canada. He was also on the administrative staff of Crown College in suburban Minneapolis. From 1994-2001, Rick was the part-time director of the Bible Conference. The Porters have three married children, five grandsons, and one granddaughter. Rick tinkers around the house and reads about bicycling more than he does it. Dianne is a skilled musician and music teacher.
On staff since 2005, Judy is a wife, mother, and grandmother serving part-time as Operations Director at OBCM. She is responsible for all financial bookkeeping, donor communication and care. She also provides administrative support for the annual Bible Conference. Judy and husband Dave reside in Spirit Lake and have four married daughters. They love spending time with their growing, extended family and are members of Good News Community Church. When not counting dollars and cents, Judy enjoys calculating miles on her bicycle.
Casandra joined the OBCM staff in 2016. She holds a degree in Practical Ministry and has traveled around the world doing missions. Her part-time work as Administrative Associate includes organizing, coordinating and supporting publicity, housing, concessions and specified projects. She also provides service to our Housekeeping department throughout the year. She loves to spend time with her nephews and her backyard wildlife, feeding the birds and squirrels every morning.
Board of Directors
Mark Newhouse – Chair
Chief Operating Officer, Bishop Business Equipment
Rob Vischer – Vice-Chair
Dean and Professor of Law,
University of St. Thomas School of Law
Ron Bryan – Secretary
Retired School Administrator
Storm Lake, IA
Vickie Franken – Treasurer
Agriculture, City View Farms
Mountain Lake, MN
Retired, Church Ministries
Non-profit Executive (Free Bikes 4 Kidz)
Long Lake, Minnesota
Grand Junction, IA
Executive Director, Cherish Center
Members of the board of directors may be contacted via the Conference office.