LIMA, Ohio (BP) — Messengers to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio passed nine resolutions during their annual meeting.
Two resolutions dealt with recent changes at the North American Mission Board. One primarily affirmed NAMB missionaries serving in Ohio while the other requested that NAMB leadership reconsider decisions that would significantly impact their partnership with Southern Baptists in Ohio.
Among the other resolutions, messengers affirmed the Cooperative Program; emphasized the continued need for strong churches; encouraged Christian citizenship and prayer for elected leaders; and affirmed the armed forces personnel.
The resolution on the NAMB partnership with Ohio Baptists noted that they have “enjoyed a fruitful partnership” since the 1950s which has contributed to the ministry of 699 Ohio Baptist congregations.
The resolution said NAMB’s decision to alter its budget to use half of its funds for church planting would create a financial challenge and a loss of retirement benefits for missionaries in Ohio. It also said 60 percent of NAMB funds used in Ohio currently support church planting.
“NAMB has communicated that they want to change the percentage of funding for Mission Ohio from 62 percent NAMB and 38 percent SCBO to 50-50,” the resolution said, referring to Ohio Baptists’ initiative aimed at reaching 1 million people for Christ in 2,020 churches by the end of 2020.
“For the SBCO to replace all of this financial defunding from NAMB will require an estimated $3 million be added to the budget of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio,” the resolution said.
Messengers further noted that the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report approved by the Southern Baptist Convention “promised more resources to the under-reached and underserved areas of North America” and, according to the resolution, “the millions of lost people in Ohio qualify as an under-reached and underserved area.”
The resolution concluded by expressing appreciation and gratitude to NAMB and respectfully requesting NAMB leadership and trustees “to reconsider their decisions which threaten a potentially disastrous impact upon the unified mission effort of Southern Baptist churches and associations” in Ohio.
A second NAMB-related resolution expressed appreciation to NAMB missionaries in Ohio for their “continuing labor in their respective ministries,” conveyed messengers’ commitment to pray for and support such missionaries and requested that NAMB trustees “continue their financial support of their missionaries in Ohio.”
“Missionaries,” as defined by the resolution, include associational directors of missions, Baptist Collegiate Ministry directors, employees of Ohio’s eight mission centers as well as church planters.
In response to the Ohio convention’s two resolutions regarding the North American Mission Board, Mike Ebert, vice president of NAMB’s communications group, told Baptist Press, “NAMB is working with all state conventions to get more of their cooperative budgets shifted toward church plants and church planters.
“We continue to be involved and very active in Ohio and every state assisting with missions and evangelism resources and missionary personnel,” Ebert said. “In Ohio, considerable money and many other resources will flow into the state through Send North America efforts in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.”
NAMB also assists Ohio with several jointly funded missionary positions including 16 church planting catalyst positions, which formerly were directors of missions.
“Ohio’s population is 11 million. This compares to the entire nation of Canada with 35 million people and seven regional church planting catalysts,” Ebert said. “Our trustees and leadership will have a more specific response to the resolutions after they have had an opportunity to review and discuss them.”
Jack Kwok, executive director of the Ohio convention, told Baptist Press, “Mission Ohio is very grateful for the past mission partnership with the North American Mission Board…. NAMB [has] nurtured an effective and fruitful mission tree in Ohio. We deeply appreciate the mission support from NAMB. Our request is for NAMB to continue to help us penetrate the lostness in Ohio, an under-reached and underserved mission field.”
Ohio Baptists’ resolution on the Cooperative Program acknowledged that the state convention has continued to grow in the number of congregations through CP support and other missions offerings.
It expressed appreciation to Southern Baptists who have “faithfully and generously” supported CP and encouraged churches giving less than 10 percent of undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program to increase their gifts by 1 percent of their budgets. The resolution also affirmed CP as “the most effective, accountable, efficient and compelling method for mission partnership to reach the unreached and to make disciples.”
The resolution on starting and strengthening churches affirmed that “the local church is the most effective way of completing the Great Commission and has been established by God” and called on churches to “continue to strengthen themselves, availing themselves to the resources that God has provided through our state convention, and remain committed to the commission that Christ has given His church.”
Messengers approved a resolution on public elections and elected leaders calling on Ohio Baptists to participate in the election process, voting as Christians and as good citizens. They resolved to pray for elected leaders’ salvation and that leaders would “seek godly wisdom and counsel that will impact all their decisions, both private and public.” Messengers committed to pray for civility in public discourse and for an uncompromised Christian witness in the public arena.
The resolution on armed forces personnel expressed affirmation and appreciation for the “commitment and sacrifice of the members of the armed forces and their families” and expressed concern for the wounded and condolences to the families of those “lost in battles for freedom.”
Among Ohio’s other resolutions, one expressed appreciation for the convention’s officers and state staff, one expressed appreciation for outgoing president Ron Hopkins and one expressed appreciation for the host church and host association.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach.