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Oklahoma Baptists, NAMB announce new church planting network

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) — Leaders with Oklahoma Baptists and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) have announced a new church planting partnership that will enhance church planting across Oklahoma. “Send Network Oklahoma” was approved by Oklahoma Baptists’ board members during a recent board meeting.

“This partnership will fully leverage our Cooperative Program commitment,” said Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer for Oklahoma Baptists. “I believe we will continue to advance the Gospel together by planting healthy churches and do so even more efficiently.”

Dilbeck emphasized that Send Network Oklahoma will work alongside churches and associations to find strategic opportunities to plant churches, adding: “We are pastor-focused, church-centered and associational-partnered through all of this process.”

Dilbeck and NAMB announced that three Oklahoma pastors have been selected to lead the new network. All three will also continue to serve in their current churches.

Pastor Doug Melton of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City will serve as the Send Network Oklahoma director. Melton will serve as the primary advocate with pastors for church planting in Oklahoma, as well as help Oklahoma pastors and potential planters connect with church planting throughout the convention.

Pastor Rusty Gunn of Church that Matters in Sand Springs will serve as the network’s church planting catalyst in the Tulsa area, and Pastor Ray Strauss of Edmond Community Church in Edmond was named church planting catalyst for the Oklahoma City area. The two will partner with pastors and church planters in their areas and around the state, performing assessment, orientation, training/coaching and care.

NAMB President Kevin Ezell expressed his enthusiasm for the effort.

“We are incredibly excited to be entering this new partnership with Oklahoma Baptists,” Ezell said. “The Send Network Oklahoma will combine all of the strengths Oklahoma Baptists are known for with the resources, training, coaching and care we have utilized nationally with hundreds of new church plants our Send Network helps launch each year. I am grateful for Hance Dilbeck’s strong leadership and for this opportunity to join arms in such an important effort.”

The Send Network Oklahoma’s stated vision is “to see a multiplying church in every community within our state.”

Alan Quigley, associate executive director with Oklahoma Baptists, said, “These multiplying churches will assist in discovering, developing and deploying church planting teams from within their congregations. Send Oklahoma desires to plant churches everywhere in our state, so that everyone has an opportunity to be a part of a local congregation.”

For more information, visit oklahomabaptists.org and click on the “Send Oklahoma” tab.