CAMBRIDGE, Ohio (BP)–The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio lowered its budget by 8 percent and celebrated an 18 percent increase in baptisms when messengers gathered for their 57th annual meeting Nov. 3-4 in Cambridge.
The new budget, however, maintains the convention’s current 59.75/40.25 percent ratio of Cooperative Program funds between mission work in Ohio and national and international Southern Baptist causes.
The 18 percent increase in baptisms was reported by 700-plus Ohio congregations on the last Annual Church Profile, garnering recognition from the North American Mission Board with an Excellence in Evangelism award. Executive Director Jack Kwok challenged messengers and guests to seek spiritual renewal in order to realize the Mission Ohio Vision of 1 million believers in 2,020 congregations by the end of 2020.
A theme of “Penetrating the Lostness” guided each of the annual meeting’s four sessions by concentrating on a crucial aspect of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando last June. Messengers and guests were challenged to make specific commitments during the sessions to increased witness and obedience to the Great Commission.
Susie Emery, Woman’s Missionary Union leader from Woodsfield First Baptist Church, led the session themed Spiritual Renewal by highlighting prayer walking and driving initiatives across Ohio. Tom Pendergrass, pastor of Urbancrest Baptist Church in Lebanon, focused on Penetrating the Lostness through the Cooperative Program by celebrating Ohio Southern Baptists’ faithful and sacrificial support of the Cooperative Program and challenging churches giving little or nothing to become full partners in cooperative missions. Pendergrass confessed he hadn’t led his church to support the Cooperative Program as strongly as they could and pledged to lead his church to do so.
The session on Penetrating the Lostness through church planting celebrated 27 new starts and three additions during the past year and challenged every Ohio Southern Baptist church to sponsor a new start next year. James Edwards, pastor of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Cleveland, Billy Barbo, pastor of Circleville First Baptist Church, and Tim Carr, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Newark, stepped forward to announce their churches will sponsor a new work.
Led by Travis Smalley, pastor of Lakota Hills Baptist Church in West Chester, the final session — Penetrating the Lostness through evangelism — employed a humorous skit emphasizing the main thing is to share Jesus with lost people.
“Messengers and guests responded enthusiastically to the challenges from each session,” Kwok said. “They submitted their decision cards, and many came forward during the public invitation.
“Several messengers commented on the moving of the Holy Spirit and how He used the speakers and musicians for each session to speak to messengers and guests,” Kwok added.
Frank Page, the new president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, preached in the convention’s second session from Philippians 1:12-20 and challenged the audience to check their mindset, motives and methodology. Page urged messengers and guests to give first-rate loyalty to the first-rate cause of Christ, saying Cooperative Program missions will grow where there is Christ-like selflessness.
Phil Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., preached in session three from Matthew 16:13-20. He quoted his father, the late Ray Roberts who was a longtime leader of the Ohio convention, as saying a church is backslidden that doesn’t start a church every year and give 10 percent through the Cooperative Program. Roberts emphasized that a church of the Lord Jesus Christ must have converted members and a confessing membership.
During the final session, Steve Spurgin, pastor of Miamisburg First Baptist Church, preached the annual sermon from Romans 1:16. He urged Ohio Southern Baptists “Don’t Be Ashamed of the Gospel” because of its divine source, dynamic strength and distinguishing superiority.
Ron Hopkins closed the session with his president’s address, preaching from Matthew 28:29-20 and Matthew 9:37. He used his personal testimony to champion Ohio missions and pleaded for messengers and guests to move from “the Great Omission” to the Great Commission in every area of life.
Messengers approved without opposition an amendment to the convention’s constitution and by-laws that permits a constitutional change by a two-thirds majority of ballots cast by registered messengers present when the vote is taken.
Messengers also heard a report on the IMPACT — Intensive Mission Projects to Affect Community Transformation — and its focus association this past year, the Muskingum Valley Baptist Association in Cambridge. Bob Beike, the Muskingum associational missionary, said conducting the annual meeting in the Muskingum Valley association for the first time “provided an opportunity for MVBA to participate at unprecedented levels. It also provided a sense of inclusion and connection with the state convention as a whole.” Beike noted IMPACT contributed to three new church starts, the training of 140 laypeople to live like missionaries, churches engaging their communities more effectively and spiritual renewal in several churches.
Messengers also witnessed as Georgetown College presented James Edwards, pastor of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in the Cleveland area, with the 2010 Darty and Dot Stowe Award, which is named after early leaders in Ohio Southern Baptist mission work.
Messengers re-elected Hopkins for a second term as president and elected Mike Wilson, pastor of Lincoln Heights Baptist Church in Mansfield, as first vice president and Mark Stinson, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Cambridge, as second vice president.
Messengers also chose Mark Wilson, pastor of North Fairfield Baptist Church in Hamilton, to preach the 2011 annual sermon and David Dye, pastor of The Bridge in Little Hocking, as his alternate.
The 2011 annual meeting will be Nov. 2-3 at Lima Baptist Temple.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly from information submitted by the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (www.scbo.org).