PERRYSBURG, Ohio (BP) — With a focus on prayer and a goal to reach 1 million of 11.5 million residents in their state with the Gospel, 254 Ohio Baptist messengers plus guests gathered for their 60th annual meeting.
In a presentation and prayer time called Pray Ohio: Partnering in the Great Commission, Cathy Pound, the convention’s Women’s Missions and Ministry Team leader, reminded attendees to pray for people in the state and presented opportunities for churches to pray throughout next year for a spiritual harvest. Additional resources for the 2014 Pray Ohio emphasis are available on www.scbo.org. As part of the partnering celebration, Bob and Anna Andes were recognized for their nearly two decades of ministry with Royal Ambassadors in Ohio.
Jack Kwok, executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, called for people to Praise God, Repent, Ask, and Yield to God (PRAY) as churches move forward with their Mission Ohio goal to reach 1 million people with the Gospel by the end of 2020. This year messengers gathered Nov. 6-7 at the French Quarter Holiday Inn in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Kwok recognized Gary Odom, who announced he will retire at the end of the year following more than 17 years of church planting ministry in Ohio. Kwok expressed his appreciation for the support congregations have given Mission Ohio and for their gifts to the Cooperative Program and the Ray Roberts State Mission Offering.
In his president’s address, Mike Wilson, pastor of Lincoln Heights Baptist Church in Mansfield, encouraged church leaders to stay the course and not give up. Rick Williams, pastor of Violet Baptist Church in Pickerington, challenged leaders to widen their influence through deepening their relationship with God.
Gary Frost, vice president for the Midwest Region of the North American Mission Board, spoke from Acts 4. He reminded listeners that the key factor for the work of the church is boldness that comes from the Holy Spirit and provides confidence, clarity, conspicuousness and courage. Bobby Welch, associate executive director for Church Growth for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, encouraged small group multiplication to increase effectiveness in reaching more people for Jesus Christ.
The Pray Ohio: Presenting Christ presentation on Wednesday evening provided a focus on evangelism in the state through various channels. According to the Annual Church Profiles submitted by Ohio Southern Baptist congregations, 2013 baptisms were up 12 percent from the previous year.
Along with an emphasis to pray for church planting in Ohio, Sharon Woods Baptist Church received the Church Planting Achievement Award for its ongoing ministry in planting churches. The congregation has been actively establishing ethnically diverse church plants for several years. On behalf of the church, pastor Jim Dreisbach received the award which was presented by Gary Odom. Among their church plants, Sharon Woods Baptist started a Bhutan/Nepali church with about 200 people attending weekly. For 2013 a total of 33 new church starts were reported across the state.
The annual meeting featured a call to prayer for churches to take the next step in obeying the Great Commission and an announcement and demonstration of the Next Factor assessment tool. The tool will assist church leaders in finding available resources and identifying key areas of needed growth. Church leaders can access the assessment tool at www.scbo.org/nextfactor, complete the brief assessment and receive an immediate listing of available resources to assist a local church.
Officers elected include: Mark Stinson, president; James Edwards, first vice-president; Cliff Morris, second vice-president; Faye Rodgers, recording secretary; Annette Dessecker, assistant recording secretary; and Jack Kwok, historian.
Faye Rodgers shared recognitions for retiring missionaries during the Mission Council report. Dan Duffy retires the end of the year after more 12 years of ministry as associational missionary for Northcoast Baptist Association. Dave Snyder was recognized for nearly 10 years of ministry in leading West Central Baptist Association.
Messengers approved the 2014 budget that included a 0.992 percent increase from 2013. A 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment was the only significant change in the budget; it was the first one since 2008. The budget maintains the division of receipts from churches through the Cooperative Mission Program at 59.75 percent for mission work in Ohio and 40.25 percent for worldwide missions outside the state.
Seven resolutions were adopted during the meeting. Ohio Baptists recognized Woman’s Missionary Union for its 125 years of mission education and support. One resolution celebrated the Cooperative Program and challenged churches to increase their Cooperative Program gifts by 1 percent of their undesignated funds. The full text of resolutions is available at www.scbo.org.
Next year’s meeting will be held Nov. 5-6 at Liberty Heights Church just north of Cincinnati.
Bruce Smith is the associate executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.