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Ohio Baptists celebrate 50 years of starting & growing churches

HAMILTON, Ohio (BP)–Ohio Baptists celebrated a half-century of history at the 51st annual meeting of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio Nov. 10-11 at North Fairfield Baptist Church in Hamilton.

Highlights of historical events were featured in each session. Larry Lewis, former president of the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) delivered remarks about his years of ministry as the first pastor of Parsons Baptist Church in Columbus. Roy Fish, professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, recounted his days as pastor of First Baptist Church of Fairborn. Fish was president of the Ohio convention when he accepted the call to join Southwestern’s faculty.

Clifford Coleman, a retired pastor and member of First Southern Baptist Church in Pomeroy, was unopposed in being re-elected as convention president. Also unopposed were David Gray, pastor of First Baptist Church in Garrettsville, elected as first vice president, and Travis Smalley, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodsfield, second vice president. Faye Rodgers, a member of First Southern Baptist Church in North Canton, was re-elected recording secretary.

Messengers approved a 2005 budget of $7,724,832, up slightly from the current budget. The new budget maintains a practice of sending 40 percent of Cooperative Program undesignated gifts to Southern Baptist mission causes beyond Ohio.

A $6 million capital campaign called Partners in Purpose, built around three priorities, was approved. The first objective, involving $1.5 million of the total, is to replace three dormitories with a new lodge and to build a new chapel at Seneca Lake Baptist Assembly. The second priority, at $3 million, is to replace offices at the State Convention of Baptists with a mission resource center. The third priority calls for $1.5 million to enhance and expand the facilities at Seneca Lake.

Messengers adopted 15 resolutions, including appreciation to several entities for their support in forming the Ohio convention in 1954. Specifically mentioned were the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources), the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board), the Woman’s Missionary Union, the Brotherhood Commission (now part of NAMB) and the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

A resolution defending marriage as an institution between one man and one woman as described in the Bible commended President Bush and his efforts to support marriage through a federal marriage amendment and thanked the citizens of Ohio for their overwhelming vote Nov. 2 in behalf of the Ohio Defense of Marriage Amendment. The resolution noted that the institution of marriage is “under attack … across our Nation and literally worldwide,” moving away from “the intent of our Creator.”

A resolution on partial-birth abortion commended elected officials in the U.S. House and Senate for voting to outlaw the practice. And a resolution against gambling in Ohio expressed disapproval of all forms of gambling to the governor and all state elected officials. The resolution noted that even though “the people of Ohio have soundly defeated most efforts to legalize gambling … special interest groups continue their efforts to change the will of the people.”

Next year’s meeting will be hosted by Rising Star Baptist Church in Youngstown Nov. 9-10.
Based on a report by Will Pollard.

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