OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–Affirming the cooperation of the past and looking to the challenges of the future, messengers to the 98th annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma passed resolutions endorsing the Cooperative Program and opposing a “New Tolerance” worldview.
As they met on Veteran’s Day, messengers also passed a resolution in support of the U.S. military, urging Oklahoma Baptists to pray for service men and women, their families, “innocent victims who find themselves in harm’s way” and for President Bush and other world leaders.
In another resolution, messengers took a stance against same-sex “marriage.”
Convening at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, 1,047 messengers were told by Executive Director-Treasurer Anthony Jordan that “Oklahoma Baptists stand in the face of defining moments in 2004 that will determine who we will become. None are new, but all are significant.
“Without over-dramatizing this present moment, I do believe Oklahoma Baptists are facing a year of defining moments,” Jordan said. “God has set before us monumental decisions. Some of them will pass imperceptibly, and the moment will be lost. But I pray we will rise to the occasion. Every defining moment requires us to decide between the answers of two opposing questions: Will we trust God and obey Him, or will we trust our ways and ourselves and therefore suffer the consequences of inaction or wrong action?
“In the words of Winston Churchill, this can be our finest hour. Oklahoma Baptists can unite in the power of God and remain a major contributor to the advancement of the work of the Kingdom of God, or we can lose our influence and become unheard voices and powerless influencers in our world.” Jordan said the defining moments the convention faces include family life, evangelism, missions support and the battle for the moral soul of the state.
“We are faced with several issues that will bring us to defining moments in 2004,” Jordan said. “In the past Oklahoma Baptists have answered the call to trust and obey. We have taken bold steps and decisive action based upon the truth of Scripture, the leading of the Holy Spirit and faith in a God who provides.
“I leave you with a promise given to the leader of God’s people when faced with a defining moment. It is truth of this promise that gives me incredible hope. Referencing Joshua 1:1-11, where Joshua succeeds Moses as the leader of the children of Israel and God instructs him to lead them to take the promised land, Jordan issued this challenge: “Oklahoma Baptists, rise up and claim the land to the glory of the Lord in 2004. It will be our defining moment in history.”
Messengers passed a resolution outlining “support of the Cooperative Program and resisting societal/direct appeal mission funding methods.” The resolution describes the Cooperative Program, or CP, which was created in 1925 by Southern Baptists across the United States, as “a financial channel of cooperation between state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention which makes it possible for all persons making undesignated gifts through their church to support the ministry, education and benevolent work in their state convention and also the work of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Ron Fannin, BGCO senior associate executive director, in presenting the findings of a CP task force during the meeting’s opening session, said the 14-member group compiled information about the CP and conducted focus group meetings with lay leaders. Matt Seward, a layman from Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, said the task force found that the Cooperative Program is “invisible.”
“Senior adults and people heavily involved in missions are the only ones who know much about the Cooperative Program,” Seward said. “The Cooperative Program is sort of on autopilot, and just happens without anyone having to do anything. But the danger of letting it be on autopilot is, when we aren’t paying attention it will crash.”
“Cooperative Program support gets less and less,” Jordan said. “In fact, there has been a 30 percent drop in CP giving since 1986. [But] there is more done through the Cooperative Program than any other organization, and it impacts more people. The foundation will be laid between now and next year’s convention to launch an aggressive re-education plan to challenge churches to Kingdom giving.”
The resolution commended churches for giving “a percentage of sacrifice to the Cooperative Program for the purpose of reaching the world, our nation and our state for Christ.”
After considerable discussion, messengers amended the resolution to strike a statement that rebuked “any generation of Baptist leaders who focus more on building their own empire rather than cooperatively working for the sake of the kingdom and who promote direct appeal mission support.” The resolution also included a paragraph that encouraged Cooperative Program-supported ministries to “resist the temptation of making direct appeals to our churches for operational funding.”
The resolution on “Classical Tolerance Vs. New Tolerance” opposes the cultural trend of the New Tolerance worldview that “has created a new civil right, which includes the right not to be offended.” Messengers affirmed in the resolution that “absolute truth is unchanging and decided by God and the essential standard of absolute truth is based on the nature and character of God as we find it declared in God’s Word (1 Peter 1:15-16, Isaiah 40:8, Hebrews 13:8).”
The resolution on same-sex “marriage” was based on a resolution adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2003. The resolution articulates the convention’s opposition to same-sex unions or any other efforts by media or institutions to mainstream the homosexual lifestyle.
In other resolutions, messengers registered opposition to any expansion of gambling and commended Baptist Collegiate Ministries specialist Bob Lee upon his pending retirement next year.
In other business, messengers approved a 2004 Oklahoma Program Ministries Budget of $21.75 million, $650,000 less than the 2003 budget, and re-elected Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, to a second term as convention president. Other officers include Buddy Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Perry, first vice president; Doyle Pryor, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sapulpa, second vice president; Lonnie Latham, pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church, recording secretary.