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Ohio Baptists hold to 50-50 SBC distribution

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (BP) — With the sound of the “Ray Roberts Gavel” — honoring a former State Convention of Baptists in Ohio executive director for whom the state missions offering is named — SBCO President David Starry called the convention’s 64th annual meeting to order Nov. 8.

The meeting was hosted by Chillicothe Baptist Church whose pastor Timothy Cline welcomed the 260-plus participants.

Starry, pastor of Vandalia First Baptist Church, chose the theme “Mission Ohio: Moving Forward with Your Head Up” to guide the one-day meeting in historic Chillicothe, the first capital of Ohio.

During the morning session, messengers approved without opposition the proposed 2017 Mission Ohio budget which maintains the 2016 budget amount without an increase or decrease and the 50-50 distribution of Cooperative Program receipts between Mission Ohio and Southern Baptist Convention worldwide missions even though receipts are forecasted to be approximately 5 percent below the 2016 adopted budget.

The total Cooperative Mission Program giving required for the 2016 budget was $4,416,152.74. If the 2016 budget were to be subscribed, the 50-50 ratio would direct $2,208,076.37 to Mission Ohio causes and $2,208,076.37 to SBC worldwide missions, as would the 2017 budget.

The move to the 50-50 distribution in one year required a decrease of $78,059 in personnel costs and an increase of 16.65 percent, or $630,447, in contributions from SCBO churches. This latest decrease in SCBO staffing now reflects a 52 percent reduction over the past several years in order to continue supporting missions from Ohio to the ends of the earth.

Jack Kwok, SBCO executive director, noted to Baptist Press that the theme of Moving Forward with Your Head Up “captures the commitment of Ohio Southern Baptists to share the Gospel from Ohio to the ends of the earth. Moving Forward requires sacrifice and involves challenges. Ohio Southern Baptists recognize this and desire to move forward with our heads up in faith and commitment to the Great Commission. Supporting missions from Ohio to the ends of the earth is the heartbeat of Ohio Southern Baptists. The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio exists to assist Southern Baptist churches and associations in Ohio in obeying the Great Commission.”

Messengers reelected Starry as president of the convention and Ryan Strother, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Marion, as first vice president. Strother served as second vice president during 2016. For second vice president, messengers cast ballots for nominees Reginald Hayes, pastor of United Faith International Baptist Church in Columbus, and Chad Keck, pastor of Kettering First Baptist Church in Beavercreek. Hayes received 131 votes and Keck received 80 votes. Messengers reelected Faye Rodgers, a member of Northside Baptist Church in Springfield, recording secretary and Annette Dessecker, a member of Lincoln Heights Baptist Church in Mansfield, assistant recording secretary.

The SCBO Mission Council recommended a three-year extension of the Tennessee-Ohio partnership, which messengers approved without any opposition, as did Tennessee Baptists during their annual meeting. Kwok told BP the partnership “has blessed Mission Ohio significantly for which Ohio Southern Baptists are very grateful.”

Messengers also heard reports from representatives of several SBC entities.

In response to a motion from the 2016 annual meeting, the Mission Council presented a proposed revision to the SCBO constitution and bylaws, in which the term Mission Council replaces Executive Board and a number of related adjustments are made. The SCBO constitution requires the presentation of a written proposal of any revisions to the messengers at an annual meeting and a vote on the proposal at the following annual meeting.

The Resolutions Committee, chaired by Jeff Woolum, pastor of First Baptist Church in Perrysburg, presented five resolutions which were approved by messengers. Among several resolutions of appreciation, messengers honored the late Orville Griffin, SBCO executive director who died in September, and the late A.H. “Brother Sam” Sampley, a retired pastor who helped initiate the chaplaincy component of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Sampley, who died in May, was pastor of First Baptist Church in West Jefferson when he retired in the 1990s. The text of the resolutions can be accessed at http://www.scbo.org/sites/default/files/documents/2017%20Adopted%20Resolutions.pdf.

Appalachian Regional Ministries and the SCBO mission support and mobilization resource group coordinated the collection of backpacks of school supplies, clothing and hygiene items to be given to children in Appalachia. Messengers and guests brought 410 backpacks to the annual meeting, and many churches already have sent their backpacks directly.

Messengers approved the recommendation to hold the 65th SCBO annual meeting Nov. 7, 2018, at the Kalahari Convention Center in Sandusky and the nominations of David Frasure, pastor of First Baptist Church in South Lebanon, to preach the annual sermon and Paul Daulton, pastor of Parma Baptist Church in Parma, to be the alternate. The Carl Cartee Worship Band led this year’s music.

Starry, Kwok and Connie Hancock, pastor of Springboro Baptist Church in Springboro, preached emphasizing the theme Mission Ohio: Moving Forward with Our Heads Up.

Starry, preaching on “Living Life with Our Heads Up” from Luke 21:20-28, noted the need to face reality with the assurance that Jesus is coming again and to be ready at all times. With believers living in difficult and challenging days, Starry said Jesus is coming again and will defeat Satan and sin. The imminent return of Christ, he said, must motivate Ohio believers to reach the state for Jesus while being on guard watching for Jesus’ return.

Hancock, preaching from Exodus 25 in the annual sermon, targeted primarily pastors but also making applications for church staff and church members. He exhorted the attendees to be content in the ministry to which God has called them, acknowledging that ministry is hard. He encouraged leaders not only to avoid neglecting their families, but to protect them and include them as partners in ministry. Hancock emphasized protecting oneself as the leader by setting boundaries in time, responsibilities and interpersonal relationships and concluded by affirming that ministry is worth it all.

Kwok spoke from Acts 1:8, noting that Christ’s disciples must provide evidence of their witness to Jesus and His life-changing Gospel message in faithful communication and conduct.

He also spoke from the context of Southern Baptists’ witness, later noting to Baptist Press, “Through the local witness/ministries of churches who cooperative with local associations and the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists can obey the Great Commission simultaneously rather than sequentially.

“Going to a 50-50 ratio for the distribution of Cooperative Program receipts from SCBO churches has severely impacted the resources and personnel of the Mission Ohio resource team,” Kwok said. “However, we are called to keep moving forward. Moving forward as a good witness to Jesus requires that we keep our heads up by looking to Jesus who is with us all the way. This is Mission Ohio: Moving Forward with Heads Up from Ohio to the ends of the earth.”

Starry gaveled the annual meeting to a close. Registered messengers numbered 231 from 108 churches which included all 15 associations. While Annual Church Profile numbers have become less dependable due to declines in reporting, the best reports available indicate that about 745 congregations with approximately 100,000 members cooperate with the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.

Auxiliary meetings included a Pastor’s Conference and Luncheon, New Beginnings Banquet for Church Planters and Sponsors, Mission Support and Mobilization Breakfast and Women in Ministry Luncheon. The SCBO Disaster Relief Child Care Unit provided nursery and child care for registered messengers.