Okla. Baptists 'Together' in prayer, ministry

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- With "Together" as their theme, 674 messengers to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma annual meeting met at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Nov. 10-11.

Messengers to the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, with “Together” as their theme, gather at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
Prayer was a key emphasis as messengers were provided opportunities in all four sessions to pray together for awakening in the church today. Surrounding these prayer times, Oklahoma Baptists joined together in reports, sermons and business matters in demonstrating the importance of sharing the Gospel to the world today.

Officer elections, budget & reports

Hance Dilbeck, pastor of Quail Springs, was elected BGCO president for 2015. Joe Ligon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Marlow, was elected first vice president and Rusty McMullen, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sayre, was elected second vice president.

"I ask Oklahoma Baptists to pray for me this year," said Dilbeck, who also will be serving as the Southern Baptist Convention's second vice president in 2015. "This responsibility is a sacred stewardship, and I ask our Lord for the grace to be found faithful. As a lifelong Oklahoman, I am deeply honored for this opportunity to serve."

Both Dilbeck and Ligon were elected by acclamation as the lone nominees for president and first vice president. McMullen was elected second vice president in a close race with Doug McClure, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hugo.

Messengers approved the BGCO 2015 financial plan presented by Randall Kemp, member of First Baptist Church in Seminole and chairman of the convention's finance committee. The adopted financial plan was set at $25,412,000, a reduction of $1,088,000, or 4.1 percent, from the 2014 plan. In 2014, the BGCO received 54 percent of the budget, with SBC receiving 46 percent, after shared ministry items were allocated.

In the BGCO's 2015 Cooperative Program allocation, the BGCO will assume all of the shared ministry item expenses. SBC causes will receive $10,164,800, or 40 percent of gifts from Oklahoma churches; BGCO causes are set to receive $11,412,500, or 45 percent; and BGCO affiliates (Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Baptist Village Communities and The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma) will receive $3,834,700, or 15 percent. The BGCO will continue to send 50 percent of all dollars over the budget to SBC causes.

Alan Quigley, leader of the BGCO church outreach team, and Cesar Garcia, pastor of Rivers of Living Water Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, gave a report from the convention's Hispanic Task Force, which Garcia chairs. The report noted that the task force has set goals to baptize 3,000 new believers and plant 50 new Hispanic churches by the year 2020. More than 150 messengers and guests representing the convention's 136 Hispanic churches attended the annual meeting.

Marty Harkey, BGCO chief development officer, and Scott Phillips, leader of the BGCO church and family equipping team, reported on new buildings at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, which include the Mathena Family Event Center, the Thompson Family Lodge and the Jordan Welcome Center, showing details of each facility and photos of construction underway at Falls Creek, including raising the monolithic dome on top of the Mathena Center. Phillips also reported on the new Baptist Collegiate Ministry property at the University of Oklahoma, which will be more accessible to campus dorms.


Messengers approved 11 resolutions on topics ranging from marijuana use to marriage.

Resolution No. 9 on "Compassion for Homosexuals" sparked a 20-minute discussion among messengers on holding to their convictions while expressing compassion for homosexuals.

Gary McDevitt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Prue, offered a substitute resolution, which was discussed, but not approved by messengers.

Alton Fannin, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Ardmore, asked to postpone indefinitely the issue, noting that actions, not words, are of most importance. "No matter how we state it, it will be misinterpreted," he said. His motion, however, did not pass.

The resolutions committee presented a revised version of Resolution No. 9 that reads as followed, "We ... believe every person is created in the image of God and has inherent value. In contrast to the growing acceptance of homosexuality today, the Old and New Testaments clearly declare homosexual acts as sinful. Meanwhile we freely admit that each of us is a sinner in need of repentance and God's grace. We therefore commit to love all our neighbors in word and deed, that all may be won to Christ and redeemed from sin."

The other resolutions are summarized as follows:

Resolution No. 1 -- On Appreciation to Host Church for the 2014 Annual Meeting, thanking pastor Hance Dilbeck and Quail Springs for hosting this year's meeting.

Resolution No. 2 -- On Prayer, Fasting, Spiritual Awakening and Revitalization. Messengers affirmed that prayer and fasting will lead to a spirit of spiritual awakening and revitalization.

Resolution No. 3 -- On Religious Liberty in America and Abroad. Messengers affirmed that religious liberties are under attack and that world leaders need to protect the freedom of religion for all people.

Resolution No. 4 -- On the Call to Evangelism. "We ... recommit to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with every person in Oklahoma and beyond. We exhort the local church to proclaim the Gospel. And we further express appreciation for the tools and resources made available through the BGCO and its related ministries, such as the ReConnect Sunday School initiative."

Resolution No. 5 -- On the Cooperative Program and the "1% Challenge." "We ... affirm the Cooperative Program as the primary funding approach that unites our churches and fuels the missions and ministry of all Southern Baptists.... Consequently, we encourage Oklahoma churches to consider joining with other Southern Baptist churches across our nation to take the '1% Challenge' by increasing their church budget giving through the Cooperative Program by one percentage point for the furthering of Kingdom work."

Resolution No. 6 -- On Rose Day and the Sanctity of Human Life. Messengers affirmed the sanctity of life and positive events such as the annual Rose Day outreach at the state capitol.

Resolution No. 7 -- On Marijuana and Other Illicit Drug Use. Messengers affirmed opposition to marijuana and other illicit drug use, but encouraged churches to take a compassionate and Christ-like role in helping individuals and their families battle addictions.

Resolution No. 8 -- On Marriage. Messengers affirmed that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman joined by God for life.

Resolution No. 10 -- On Confronting Domestic Violence. "We … call Oklahoma Baptists to become aware of this blight within our community, to educate our families, and to protect the abused, thus following the ultimate example of love and meekness of Jesus Christ."

Resolution No. 11 -- On the Lottery and Gambling. Messengers affirmed their opposition to the lottery and gambling and urged pastors and churches to educate people about the spiritual, financial and moral dangers of gambling.

For more information on the resolutions passed, visit www.bgco.org/annualmeeting.

Addresses & sermons

Nick Garland, in his address as the BGCO's current president, spoke on the convention's "Together" theme, drawing from the apostle Paul's words in Philippians 1, "I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel."

"When we're partners together, I'm a partner with Paul. I'm a partner with Andrew and Peter. I'm a partner with James and John. I'm a partner with every great proclaimer," said Garland, pastor of First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow. "I'm a partner with Billy Graham and Billy Sunday. I'm a partner with the Wesleys. I'm a partner with William Carey. I'm a partner with every Great Awakening. I'm a partner with every person who ever worked in a rehab center or an orphanage.

"I'm a partner with every Baptist who ever served on the mission field because I gave and I prayed," Garland said in describing the partnership Oklahoma Baptists have in sharing the Gospel throughout the history of Christianity and throughout the world.

Jason K. Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., used Acts 4 as his text to speak on "We Cannot Stop Speaking" during the morning session, Nov. 11.

Allen said he has been reading biographies of U.S. presidents, most recently one on Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president (1923-29) commonly referred to as "Silent Cal" because of his tendency to be tight-lipped.

Noting the boldness of the apostles Peter and John, who preached Jesus without compromise in Acts 4:1-22, Allen said believers today also must be speaking, pointing out a cycle that results when they speak: "Power by the Holy Spirit leads to proclamation of the Gospel of Christ and that leads to persecution. And that's a cycle that we see repeated all throughout the book of Acts."

Allen cited four major movements in chapter 4: One, the opposition they faced was similar to what Jesus faced with the priests, elders, rulers, scribes and Pharisees. Two, the message they spoke. Three, the power they knew. Four, the boldness they demonstrated.

"I remind you this morning we are facing a great collision of worldviews," Allen said. "Perhaps what God may use to get the church to speak up is an overreaching governmental arm telling us to shut up. If that's what it takes, then let Him do it."

BGCO Executive Director-Treasurer Anthony L. Jordan, in his address to close out the Tuesday morning session, bemoaned the fact that the "sexual revolution of the '60s has produced for us what we live in today.... We are in a moral decline that is unprecedented in America. For nearly 180 years, America was, if you will, overshadowed by the Christian worldview.

"But in the 1960s, we began this moral decline that is now hitting the bottom. And, it is in that kind of world that Christ has called us to do His ministry. It is more difficult today than we have ever seen in America.

"It runs in many different directions. But just 10 years ago, we fought the battle against the lottery and, today, there are more than 115 casinos in Oklahoma. The green-eyed monster of greed ravages our state."

But what goes on in America today is not a unique setting for the Gospel, Jordan said, pointing out what the apostle Paul faced when taking the Gospel to the city of Corinth -- one of the most sinful places on earth -- in the first century.

"Paul was facing a city of debauchery and decadence," Jordan said. "And the world has not changed. The world has always been dark. This is the mission field, and we serve a mighty God who has a powerful Gospel."

Jordan urged Oklahoma Baptists to remember that those who do not know Christ are not their enemies, and that believers "must show them the unconditional love of Jesus Christ."

Jeremy Freeman gave the annual sermon, concluding the annual meeting. The pastor of First Baptist Church in Newcastle spoke from 1 Timothy on "Guarding the Glorious Gospel," giving three points the church must do: 1) Keep defending the Gospel; 2) Keep clearly defining the Gospel; 3) Keep declaring the Gospel.

"If the church loses the Gospel, in any form, it's lost everything," Freeman said.

The 2015 annual meeting will be held at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Nov. 9-10.

Reported by the staff of the Baptist Messenger (www.baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
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