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Ohio Baptists adopt 50/50 funding of SBC causes

VANDALIA, Ohio (BP) — A 50/50 division of churches’ Cooperative Program gifts to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio was approved during the SCBO annual meeting Nov. 2.

Messengers approved a 2016-17 Mission Ohio budget which moved the Cooperative Mission Program, as CP is named in Ohio, from last year’s 59.25/40.25 distribution to 50/50 for SCBO outreach and Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries.

The SCBO Mission Council challenged the state’s churches to move to a 50/50 ratio with the adoption of the 2007 budget. A financial downturn in the Ohio economy, which began the same year, affected many Mission Ohio churches, negatively impacting Cooperative Mission Program receipts.

Mission Ohio reduced state convention staff and ministry funds in order to maintain the 59.25/40.25 ratio during this time. With a recovering economy, messengers approved a 50/50 distribution for all Cooperative Mission Program funds received once the operating budget had been met.

Mission Council members in November 2015 created a special committee to bring a recommendation to the July 28, 2016, Mission Council for moving toward an overall 50/50 distribution of Cooperative Mission Program receipts between Mission Ohio and SBC causes. Steve Spurgin, pastor of Miamisburg First Baptist Church, chaired the committee and led its members to bathe the process in prayer and fasting.

All committee members readily agreed to affirm the Mission Council’s earlier action for the 2007 budget to challenge SCBO churches to increase Cooperative Mission Program giving in order to obtain a 50/50 distribution. After the committee considered several timelines, the majority favored recommending the 50/50 ratio beginning with the December 2016-November 2017 budget, which the Mission Council approved in the July 28 meeting for recommendation to messengers at the SCBO Nov. 2 annual meeting.

The move to the 50/50 distribution in one year entails a decrease of $78,059 in personnel costs and an increase of 16.65 percent (an additional $630,447) in contributions from SCBO churches. The additional decrease in SCBO staffing will bring the total to a reduction of 52 percent in order to continue supporting missions from Ohio to the ends of the earth.

“Supporting missions from Ohio to the ends of the earth is the heartbeat of Ohio Southern Baptists,” said SCBO Executive Director Jack Kwok, who was honored during the annual meeting for 20 years of service to the convention. “The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio exists to assist Southern Baptist churches and associations in Ohio obey the Great Commission.

“Ohio Southern Baptist churches already have increased their giving to the worldwide Cooperative Mission Program this year,” Kwok noted. “If the rate of giving continues and all SCBO churches contribute to the Cooperative Mission Program, we should reach the December 2016-November 2017 budget requirement of $4,416,153.”

Additionally, messengers approved eight resolutions, including “On Biblical Sexuality and the Freedom of Conscience,” “On Reaching Refugees and People Groups in Ohio,” “On Support of the Cooperative Program,” “On Voting as an Expression of Christian Citizenship,” “On Revival and Spiritual Awakening” and “On Appreciation of Those Involved in Disaster Relief Ministries.” The adopted resolutions are posted on the convention’s www.scbo.org website.

The resolution on sexuality and freedom of conscience noted various encroachments on religious liberty such as the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision to redefine marriage which “does violence to the Constitution and is contrary to the Bible and natural order.”

Messengers noted that, “Any law that directly contradicts natural law and biblical truth is an unjust law” and “Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not affirm an unjust law that directly contradicts higher law.”

Messengers elected David Starry, pastor of First Baptist Church in Vandalia, as convention president for 2017, succeeding Jeremy Westbrook, pastor of Living Hope Church in Marysville. Tom Pendergrass, pastor of Lebanon Urbancrest Baptist Church, was elected by acclamation to another term as first vice president.

Messengers also elected Ryan Strother, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Marion, as second vice president; Faye Rodgers, a member of Northside Baptist Church in Springfield, as recording secretary; Annett Dessecker, a member of Lincoln Heights Baptist Church in Mansfield, as assistant recording secretary; and Jack Kwok as historian.

Kwok, in his executive director’s address, spoke on the convention’s “Moving Forward” theme drawn from Philippians 3: 13-14, while Tim Cline, pastor of Chillicothe Baptist Church, also addressed the Moving Forward theme in the convention sermon, preaching from Acts 1:8. Westbrook, in his presidential address, preached on “Jesus Is Coming: Get Busy” from 2 Peter 3:1-10. The Long Hollow Baptist Church worship team from Hendersonville, Tenn., led worship music for the annual meeting and the preceding Pastors’ Conference.

Steve Stiglich, associational missionary for the Greater Dayton Baptist Association, reported on IMPACT Dayton 2016. Beginning in 2001, Mission Ohio conducted Intensive Mission Projects to Affect Community Transformation in every association. The Greater Dayton Baptist Association IMPACT concluded the 16-year process, with mission teams from Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio converging on the Dayton area to conduct VBS, Backyard Bible Clubs, sports evangelism, arts camps, door-to-door evangelism, block parties, clean-ups and construction. They assisted nine churches: Hope Community, North Dayton, Victory, North Central, Maple Heights, Medway, Eldorado, Grace Point Fellowship and First Baptist Miamisburg.

First Baptist in Vandalia hosted the 320 registered messengers and 23 registered guests. During the final business session, messengers elected new members for the Mission Council and approved the time, place and preacher for the 2017 annual meeting, Nov. 7-8 at Chillicothe Baptist Church. Connie Hancock, pastor of Springboro Baptist Church, will preach the annual sermon, with David Frasure, pastor of South Lebanon First Baptist Church, as the alternate.

Each year, Georgetown College presents the Darty Stowe award in memory of Darty Stowe who served as a missionary and associate executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. This year’s recipient was Dave Hill, pastor of Springfield Northside Baptist Church.

The Mission Council report included recognition of Dave Warton and Quinton Moss, SCBO staff members who also were honored by resolutions of appreciation.

Warton, who retired in June, had served as SCBO church services resource group leader since 2001, helping pastors and churches with retirement, insurance and legal matters. He served as a pastor for 26 years, at First Baptist in Carroll, Coshocton Baptist and Delaware Baptist, before joining the convention’s staff. He will continue serving as the pastor of the Rohr Road Baptist Church. Warton taught at Ohio State University and nearby school systems while he served as the pastor of Delaware Baptist Church. “He is one of the godliest, most humble, faithful and dedicated servants of Christ that I have known,” Kwok said. “Thank you Dave and Rae Ann for your immeasurable contribution to Mission Ohio.”

Quinton Moss, who retires Dec. 31, joined Mission Ohio in February 2009 serving in the church planting resource group. Prior to joining the Mission Ohio resource team, he served as a deacon, pastor and church planter in Arkansas. His wife Diane worked for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention for 10 years. In 2014, Quinton became the SCBO’s church planting resource group leader, guiding Mission Ohio church planting through a transition period with the North American Mission Board “with grace and effectiveness,” Kwok noted. “God has used the life and ministry of Quinton to advance Mission Ohio significantly. Thank you Quinton and Diane for your immeasurable contribution to Mission Ohio.”

In recognizing Kwok’s 20th anniversary as the convention’s executive director, friend and colleagues give live and video testimonies and a glass art sculpture gift.