Oklahoma Baptist University launches Tom Elliff Center for Missions
SHAWNEE, Okla. (BP) – OBU announced the launch of the Tom Elliff Center for Missions Monday (Jan. 24). The university likewise announced the appointment of Elbert Smith as director of the center and assistant professor of missions; Mike Hand as special assistant to the president for great commission initiatives; and Elliff as lecturer, mentor and facilitator in missions.
“It brings me no greater joy than to announce the creation of the Tom Elliff Center for Missions,” said OBU President Heath A. Thomas. “This center will enhance our missions education at OBU through forums and mentorship, facilitate growth through scholarships, recruit students and partners, and connect churches to OBU and the world. Tom is a passionate advocate for advancing the Gospel and this center in his name carries that same passion for Gospel advance in our day.”
After pastoring for 42 years, Elliff served as the International Mission Board’s president from 2011-2014, as IMB senior vice president for spiritual nurture and church relations from 2005-2009, and as a missionary in Zimbabwe from 1981-1983. He has pastored churches in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, including his service as pastor of First Southern, Del City, Okla., from 1985 to 2005. He has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference as well as two terms as president of the SBC. Elliff earned a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University, a master of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Mission:Dignity recipients in Mississippi to receive extra check in 2022
By Roy Hayhurst
DALLAS (BP) – Mission:Dignity recipients in the state of Mississippi will be receiving an extra check – a 13th check – in 2022 and annually after thanks to the efforts of the Mississippi Baptist Foundation, the Mississippi Baptist Convention and GuideStone.
Mississippi marks the third state to offer such a partnership between Mission:Dignity/GuideStone and state conventions. Similar programs are underway in South Carolina and Arkansas.
“At GuideStone, we’re on a mission to provide dignity to retired pastors, and in most cases their widows,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “As we work alongside our state convention partners, it is rewarding and humbling to see them continue to catch the vision for providing financial assistance – a double honor – to those who have served so faithfully.”
In 2022, Mission:Dignity helped more than 2,500 individuals with extra money needed for housing, food and vital medications. It also ensures a well-deserved dignity, independence and, often, the ability to continue serving the Lord. In Mississippi, 107 recipients will receive a 13th check, which will be the same amount as their regular monthly benefit.
The genesis for this partnership was a meeting with Aaron Meraz, director of Mission:Dignity, and Shawn Parker, executive director-treasurer of Mississippi Baptists. Parker met with the board, which voted to establish a Mission:Dignity 13th Check Fund through the Mississippi Baptist Foundation. Thanks to the generous gifts of Mississippi Baptists, $360,000 of Cooperative Program surplus dollars was provided to the Foundation for the 13th check Fund.
“Mississippi Baptists are incredibly thankful for the ministry to retirees provided through GuideStone’s Mission Dignity program,” Parker said. “The opportunity we have to partner with them to provide additional support for those who served our churches so faithfully is a rich blessing.”
The Mississippi Baptist Convention Board of Trustees enthusiastically embraced the idea.
“When the recommendation was made to our board to begin a fund to offer a 13th check to these recipients, the board’s response was spontaneous applause,” Parker said. “I think that reflects Mississippi Baptists’ heart for helping those who have helped so many others in the name of our Lord. I’m thankful to Mississippi Baptists for their generosity to make this happen, and I’m deeply appreciative for our partnership with GuideStone to make it a reality.”
Mission:Dignity recipients in Mississippi should receive the extra payment in February.
“This partnership shows the strength of working together among local churches, state conventions, the state foundations and through GuideStone,” said Hance Dilbeck, GuideStone president-elect. “We are so thankful for the leadership of Shawn Parker, for the commitment of the Mississippi Baptists’ Board, and the generosity of so many in the Magnolia State for making this a reality.”
For more information on Mission:Dignity, to give, to apply for assistance or to refer someone in need, visit MissionDignity.org.