OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) — More than 1,000 Oklahoma Baptist messengers and guests from across the state gathered Nov. 11-12 at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City for the 113th Annual Meeting of Oklahoma Baptists.
From approving an increased Cooperative Program (CP) spending plan for 2020 that allocates $1 million more to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), to hosting an International Mission Board (IMB) Sending Celebration that sent 29 missionaries to the field, the 2019 Annual Meeting was marked by major ministry milestones.
Dilbeck calls to ‘Advance the Gospel Together’
During the annual meeting’s opening session on Veterans Day, a tribute to military veterans was observed, as well as various times of prayer, singing and worship.
Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, spoke about a new vision and ministry plans for 2020 and beyond. He presented plans that were approved by messengers that included: four major goals, a mission statement, strategic priorities and a new spending plan.
“The advance of the Gospel is our mission,” Dilbeck said. “We want our neighbors and the nations to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Our passion and our mission is the advance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The local church is the pillar and support of the Gospel truth. We encourage one another to advance the Gospel.”
Dilbeck’s report included emphases on Oklahoma Baptists being “church-centered, pastor-connected and associational-partnered.”
“Our convention staff exists to serve our churches,” he said. “We want every pastor to have a relational connection to our Oklahoma Baptist team. We know we need strong partnership with our local associations.”
He pointed out the strategic priority of encouraging pastors by highlighting the development of the Church Relations Group, which consists of ministry partners who will be “connected, present and accessible” for pastors and churches.
Dilbeck also emphasized embracing brokenness and making disciples for the advancement of the Gospel.
Dilbeck then turned attention to Oklahoma Baptists’ Board of Directors’ “four big church-centered goals,” which also were approved by annual meeting messengers. “These goals are ambitious commitments to reverse the downward trends we have seen. We will strive to increase weekly attendance 20 percent by 2025. We will work to increase baptisms 20 percent by 2025. By 2025, we want to send 20 percent more missionaries from Oklahoma through the IMB. We will try to give 20 percent more through the Cooperative Program by 2025.”
2020 Cooperative Program goal increased
Messengers affirmed the Board’s 2020 Cooperative Program Objective of $26.1 million. “This is an aggressive commitment to grow our CP giving by more than $600,000. We also reset the Cooperative Program Allocation. One of the most important decisions that our Board of Directors makes each year is how we will spend the Cooperative Program contributions from our churches. Once again, we made a bold move this year.
“In 2020, we are shifting 3 percent more to our SBC partners. Thus, 15 percent for affiliates, 42 percent for Oklahoma Baptists ministries and 43 percent for SBC. That is $1 million more sent to the IMB, North American Mission Board and our seminaries. We want to be as lean as possible, so that we can send as much as possible, trusting the Lord.”
Dilbeck stressed that “your convention staff of Oklahoma Baptists is smaller. Our core staff has been reduced by 15 percent. We are running as lean as we possibly can to be good stewards for Oklahoma Baptists.”
Also during Monday evening, messengers viewed Oklahoma Baptists’ new logo.
Preaching out of 2 Chronicles 20, Dilbeck delivered his executive director’s address, highlighting Jehoshaphat’s prayer. He then led messengers in an extended prayer time, based on the biblical passage.
Officers elected, resolutions approved
Messengers re-elected Blake Gideon, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Edmond, to a second one-year term as president. Other officers elected include Jeremy Freeman, pastor of First Baptist Church Newcastle, first vice president, and David Hooks, pastor of Bryant Avenue Baptist Church in Oklahoma, second vice president.
On Tuesday afternoon, messengers approved eight resolutions, including: “Resolution No. 2, On Brokenness as Opportunity for the Gospel,” “Resolution No. 3, On Increasing Baptisms in Oklahoma”; and “Resolution No. 7, On Ending Abortion, Promoting the Sanctity of Human Life.”
Gideon, McMullen preach
Gideon delivered the president’s address Tuesday morning, asking the question of Oklahoma Baptists, “Whose corner are you in?”
Sharing about his experiences of meeting people through fitness training, Gideon encouraged attendees to “embrace brokenness” by making friends with non-Christians.
“We are surrounded by people every single day,” Gideon said. “It’s time to identify the broken and do what we can to bind up their wounds. I want to know whose corner you are in. What relationship are you building in your life right now, as it pertains to a person who is lost and broken but doesn’t know it?
“We need to be there before they are broken. Build relationships with those who are prideful and unrighteous.”
Rusty McMullen, pastor of First Baptist Church McAlester, delivered the annual sermon Tuesday afternoon and opened with telling the story of J.B. Rounds, one of the founding fathers of Oklahoma Baptists.
“J.B. Rounds recognized that the Gospel heals brokenness,” McMullen said. “He saw it in his own family. In fact, his dad came to know Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. This is what the Gospel can do in the lives of people all across Oklahoma and around the world.”
McMullen concluded with sharing a report Rounds gave at the 1909 Annual Meeting of Oklahoma Baptists. He challenged Oklahoma Baptists to heed the words Rounds spoke 110 years ago.
“Listen to the words of our forefather J.B. Rounds,” he said. “It’s an emergency! The Gospel advance is an emergency! You and I … are called to be men, women and churches of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is our history, and this is our future.”
Affiliates give reports; OBU names new president
Reports were given by each of the Oklahoma Baptist affiliates, including Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Baptist Village Communities, the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU).
During the Tuesday morning report, interim OBU president Pat Taylor introduced Heath Thomas as the next OBU president. Thomas, who currently serves as OBU dean of the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry, will become the university’s 16th president, assuming the role in January 2020.
Church Relations Group launched
On Tuesday afternoon, messengers were introduced to Oklahoma Baptists’ newly established Church Relations Group. Led by James Swain, the group includes regional ministry roles, along with affinity groups including African American ministry, Hispanic ministry, Native American ministry and ministry wives.
Some existing convention staff will fill some of the roles, including Brett Selby, Ever Borunda and Walter Wilson. Dilbeck announced the addition of new personnel, including Mark Dance, Griff Henderson, Buddy Hunt and Amy Petersen.
Dilbeck said, “Each of these ministry partners will be based in the field and carry a ‘ministry tool box,’ offering practical support and help to pastors and churches.”