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‘Engage Ohio’ initiatives garner convention’s focus

PATASKALA, Ohio (BP) — “Engage Ohio: All for Him” was the theme of the Nov. 3-4 annual meeting of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio at the Columbus-area Jersey Baptist Church in Pataskala.

SBCO President Mark Stinson, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Cambridge, called the 62nd annual meeting to order, with host pastor John Hayes, a former SBCO president, welcoming messengers and guests, who numbered 257 and 28, respectively, by the end of the meeting.

Each session expanded on the “Engage Ohio: All for Him” theme, reflecting the Mission Ohio cooperative effort of Southern Baptists to engage all the residents of Ohio with the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

Session one: “Engage Ohio: All for Him through Cooperation”; session two: “Engage Ohio: All for Him in Communities”; session three: “Engage Ohio: All for Him through His Churches”; session four: “Engage Ohio: All for Him in Culture.”

“All that is done,” Jack Kwok, SBCO executive director, said of the theme, “is because of Him and for Him.” In his report to the convention, Kwok drew from the apostle Paul’s account of his preaching and his mission in Acts 20:17-24 to encourage the state’s Baptists to fully “Engage Ohio.”

Quinton Moss, SBCO church planting resource group leader, led in a celebration of 30 church starts in Ohio to date this year and recognized church planters who are serving in the state.

In the convention’s focus on IMPACT (Intensive Mission Projects to Affect Community Transformation) and its concentration on evangelistic outreach and ministry in one of the state’s Baptist associations — Metro Columbus Baptist Association for 2015 — director of Missions Rich Halcombe reported on the Crossover Columbus outreach in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting in Columbus in June. More than 3,300 volunteers helped the churches of metro Columbus with Crossover evangelism and ministry projects, with 345 known professions of faith, Halcombe said. More than half of the volunteers came from Ohio Southern Baptist churches, he noted.

The 2016 IMPACT association will be the Greater Dayton Baptist Association. Steve Stiglich, the association’s director of missions, challenged members of Ohio Southern Baptist churches to assist in their major evangelistic outreach on July 16, 2016. To volunteer, visit www.scbo.org and search 2016 IMPACT or visit the Greater Dayton Baptist Association website.

The 2015 report on mission council actions included the 3-Way Partnership with the Tennessee Baptist Convention, New England Baptist Convention and State Convention of Baptists in Ohio; the creation of a committee to recommend a plan to move toward a 50-50 distribution of Cooperative Program receipts from Ohio’s churches; and the creation of the missions support and mobilization resource group.

Kwok elaborated on the creation of the new resource group, which was occasioned by the retirement of Cathy Pound, leader of the women’s missions and ministries resources group. Finances prevented the hiring of a successor for Pound. The new group is a combination of the women’s missions and ministries group and the ministry evangelism section of the evangelism resource group, with Duane Floro as the new group leader.

In a resolution honoring Pound, messengers said she has “joyfully and faithfully served the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio” as women’s missions and ministries director for 13 years, and she and her husband Jeff helped start the Columbus-area Spring Hills Baptist Church in Granville. Messengers also noted that she had served five years in the Philippines with the International Mission Board.

In “On Marijuana Use,” among other resolutions, messengers stated that the convention will “continue to advocate against the legalization of marijuana use.” Messengers called on Ohio Baptists to “continue to educate and minister to those trapped in bondage with the freedom of the gospel and the hope of Christ” and “continue to support and promote biblically based addiction recovery ministries.” In Ohio’s Nov. 3 balloting, a state constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana was rejected by a 64-36 margin.

In a resolution “On the Cooperative Program,” messengers celebrated its 90 years of forwarding Southern Baptists’ financial support to state, national and international missions and ministries. The resolution lamented the downsizing of 600 to 800 International Mission Board missionaries and staff due to budget shortfalls and the SBCO’s 33 percent reduction in staff over the past 10 years. An increase in Cooperative Program giving, messengers noted, “will keep and put more missionaries on the field, facilitate church planting, fund evangelism in our state and around the world, [and] assist in equipping churches to be healthy.”

Messengers also passed resolutions underscoring the biblical definition of marriage as one man and one woman; the importance of Christian participation in elections and prayer for elected officials; and appreciation and prayer for first-responders.
The resolutions can be viewed at the convention’s www.scbo.org website.

Messengers approved the proposed 2016 Mission Ohio budget, which anticipates $3,960,706 in Cooperative Program receipts from the Ohio Southern Baptist churches, an 8.213 percent decrease from the 2015 budget. The CP budget will continue to allocate 59.75 percent for Mission Ohio and 40.25 percent to support worldwide Southern Baptist missions. All Cooperative Program receipts received after the budget is reached will be divided 50-50.

Elected as SCBO officers for the coming year were: president, Jeremy Westbrook, pastor of Living Hope Baptist Church in Marysville; first vice president, Tom Pendergrass, pastor of Urbancrest Baptist Church in Lebanon; and second vice president, David Starry, pastor of Vandalia First Baptist Church. Faye Rodgers of Northside Baptist Church in Springfield and Annette Dessecker of Lincoln Heights Baptists Church in Mansfield were elected as recording secretary and assistant recording secretary, respectively, with Jack Kwok as historian.

Stinson, in his presidential address, drew from 1 Peter 5 to challenge church leaders to a godly lifestyle and leadership as they engage their communities with the Gospel. Chad Keck, pastor of Kettering First Baptist Church, preached the annual sermon, drawing from Acts 4 to challenge Ohio Southern Baptists to engage lostness both in Ohio and around the world.

Messengers approved Tim Cline, pastor of Chillicothe Baptist Church, to preach the 2016 annual sermon, and Darrell Gabbard, pastor of Dublin Baptist Church, as the alternate.

Dennis Holmes, retired mission strategist for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association, was named as the 21st recipient of the annual Darty and Dot Stowe Award, given to an Ohio pastor/leader for denominational service. Darty and Dot Stowe began their service in Ohio in 1954. Over the years, Darty served as a director of missions, state director of missions and associate executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.

Also during the meeting, attorney Michael K. Whitehead of Kansas City, Mo., gave a presentation on “Defending Religious Exercise” to assist churches to engage the culture with the Gospel and take preventive law strategies to protect their ministry.

Next year’s SCBO annual meeting will be Nov. 2-3 at Vandalia First Baptist Church.