Orville Griffin, former Ohio exec, dies at 85

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP) -- Orville H. Griffin, former executive director/treasurer of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, died Sept. 18 at age 85 after several months of illness, according to a report from the Ohio convention.

Orville Griffin
Griffin was the convention's executive director from 1992-1997 during 43 years of ministry in Ohio.

"The legacy of Orville Heath Griffin is one rooted in the Great Commission and devoted to the Lord Jesus he loved and served so faithfully," said Jack Kwok, who succeeded Griffin. "He set a high mark for those who follow."

Kwok described Griffin as "compassionate, supportive, trustworthy, kindhearted, devoted and a mentor to many."

For Kwok personally, Griffin "helped me greatly in the transition time we shared and the subsequent years until his homegoing."

Griffin was preceded in death by his wife Lois in August and was living in Georgetown, Ky., at the time of his death.

He joined the Ohio convention staff in 1976 as director of missions. In 1982, he became associate executive director as well as the SCBO's annuity and foundation director before being elected as executive director in 1992.

Griffin came to Ohio in 1954 as pastor of East Dayton Baptist Church after graduating from Georgetown College in Kentucky. The church recorded 720 baptisms during his 13 years as pastor and he served two terms as the state convention's president, from 1965-67.

In 1967, Griffin became director of missions for the Greater Cincinnati and Southern Hills Baptist associations, moving in 1970 to the director of missions position with the Greater Dayton Baptist Association.

Griffin made a profession of faith in Christ in 1945 at age 13 at Stamping Ground (Ky.) Baptist Church and was ordained to the ministry there in 1952. He led churches in Frankfort and Harrison County as a college student.

He recounted in 1969 that the most significant experience of his life, other than his conversion, "was when I surrendered to the call of God to enter fulltime Christian service. This was not an easy thing for me to do. I had other ambitions and desires in life, but God continued to deal with me for a period of two years. And so one Sunday night after my pastor preached and gave the invitation I came forward to state my calling before my church and have never regretted this decision."

Griffin defined missions in his personal testimony as "sharing the good news of salvation with all people regardless of their color or status in life. And I believe that every Christian has a responsibility in this great mission of confronting a world with the saving Gospel and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

Griffin is survived by two sons, Ronald and Douglas; a daughter, Lori Sue Haynes; a niece he and his wife helped raise, Kelly Lee Watson Zatorski; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

His funeral was Sept. 25 at White Sulphur Baptist Church in Georgetown. In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations to the Orville Griffin Fund with the Ohio Baptist Foundation in care of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, 9000 Antares Ave., Columbus, OH 43240.

Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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