FAIRFIELD, Ohio (BP) — Initiatives in visioning, prayer and fasting were set forth to Ohio Baptists during their Nov. 4-5 sessions under the theme “Equip. Engage. Encourage. Enhance.”
The Cincinnati-area Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fairfield hosted the 66th annual celebration of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, with 220 messengers representing 104 churches.
Ryan Strother, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Marion, preached from Philippians 1:3-6 in his address as SCBO president, marking the many ministries and advances of the convention’s cooperative work.
Strother presented an overview of the three-year SCBO strategy and structure visioning process for reaching Ohio, initiated by the convention’s Mission Council in July. Strother introduced the 12-member team of Ohio leaders who will guide the process in conjunction with the Houston-based Denominee consulting ministry.
He also introduced a First Friday Fasting initiative for 2020 of prayer and fasting in five areas: the convention’s visioning process; church revitalization; church planting; pastors and leaders; and an awakening of “supernatural Gospel impact in Ohio & beyond.”
Stephen Owens, pastor of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Bedford and president of the Ohio African American Fellowship, preached the convention’s annual sermon from Acts 11:20-22. He challenged messengers and guests to trust God in taking risks in preaching Jesus, reaching people for Jesus, and encouraging future leaders.
Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, preached on “Mobilizing Your Church to Fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.” He spoke of how to be clear in leading a church to personalize and obey the Great Commission; to pray and call for people to be called out for ministry; and to prioritize, elevate and accelerate giving through Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program channel for missions and ministry.
Adam W. Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, preached from Acts 1:1-11, exhorting Ohio Baptists to embrace the urgency of obeying the Great Commission. “We have not regarded our disobedience in evangelism as sin,” Greenway said, “and the church has done more gazing than going.”
Roy Cotton Sr., director of African American ministries for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, led the worship, congregational singing and mass choir, assisted by the Kettering First Baptist Church worship team.
Messengers approved without opposition the 2019-2020 Mission Ohio budget, which has operated on a Dec. 1-Nov. 30 fiscal year since November 2007.
Anticipated Cooperative Program receipts remain at $4,416,154.00 as currently in the Mission Ohio budget. Messengers approved a continued 50-50 distribution of CP funds, first adopted with the 2016-2017 budget.
In addition to CP gifts from churches affiliated with the convention, to be divided without any SCBO/SBC shared expenses, the overall Mission Ohio budget of $6,210,789 includes funds from the North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, Ray Roberts State Mission Offering, fees and rentals, and other designated gifts.
Messengers elected Strother and other officers by acclamation for another term: first vice president Reginald Hayes, pastor of United Faith International Baptist Church in Columbus; second vice president Jeff Woolum, pastor of First Baptist Church in Perrysburg; recording secretary Faye Rodgers, a member of Northside Baptist Church in Newark; and assistant recording secretary Annette Dessecker, a member of Lincoln Heights Baptist Church in Mansfield.
Four resolutions were presented and unanimously adopted by messengers.
In a resolution “On Awareness and Education for Appropriate Behavior,” messengers encouraged church leaders “to find resources, current education, and definitions regarding appropriate actions, practices, terms, and verbal titles in the areas of abuse, harassment, and comments with the opposite sex” and to implement training utilizing those resources, expressing gratitude for leaders who already have taken such steps.
And messengers encouraged churches “to establish healthy communication lines and best practices for people to report or bring concerns if inappropriate actions or communications are found in the church.”
“We, as Baptists, value being above reproach in all areas, seeking to reflect the character of God and glorify God in this world as salt and light,” the resolution stated.
A resolution “On Support of the Cooperative Program” — noting that the convention allocates 50 percent of its CP gifts to worldwide missions beyond the state — expressed appreciation to churches that give 10 percent or more of their undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program and encouraged churches that give minimally to increase their mission support.
“The partnership of the Cooperative Program,” the resolution stated, “offers opportunities for advancing the Gospel in cities, suburbs, and rural communities across Ohio, across North America, and around the world.”
A resolution “On a Call to Prayer and Action for Evangelism and Church Planting in Ohio” set forth awareness of the need for church planting, inviting churches and individuals to adopt an underchurched area for prayer and evangelism engagement.
An estimated 64 percent of Ohio’s 11.8 million people are not active in any church, the resolution stated, citing statistics from MissionInsite.com.
“Ohio has 42 zip code areas with a population of more than 20,000 with no Southern Baptist church and an additional 63 zip codes with a population between 15,000 and 20,000 with no Southern Baptist church,” the resolution noted, with another 100-plus zip codes with populations of 7,000 to 15,000 people likewise without a Southern Baptist church.
The resolutions also included a traditional expression of appreciation for those involved in planning and hosting the annual celebration.
Keith Risner, senior pastor of Edgewood Baptist Church in Trenton, received the Darty and Dot Stowe Award in the 25th presentation of the recognition of a pastor “who has served faithfully, perhaps never recognized like those in the larger, more visible churches.”
Risner, a southwest Ohio native who planted Edgewood 38 years ago, has led the church in baptizing and discipling 820 new believers and partnering in multiple church plants as well as nurturing and sending out some three dozen leaders into Gospel ministry.
The award is named for the Stowes, who began their ministry in Ohio in 1954. Darty Stowe initially served as director of missions for the greater Cincinnati area, subsequently becoming SCBO director of missions and then associate executive secretary. Darty Stowe died in 1981, Dot in 2000.